Wednesday, February 22, 2006

David Irving

Controversy about David Irving’s jail sentence. I am loath to comment on someone whose writings I have not read (this is why I slogged my way through Windshuttle's alarming tome). I was mildly surprised by how often his writings were mentioned in the footnotes to Kershaw's Hitler, perhaps a more sympathetic attitude to Hitler enables a better understanding of him as a politician and a strategist. Reluctantly I would oppose the sentence, and agree with Norman Geras here and Andrew Leigh, although there is rather flip libertarianism in the comments of Jason Soon, any issue that touches on Nazism is hardly to be dismissed as 'government stupidity' although Jason's most recent comment is better. The Australian excels itself in confusion and its usual year 10 level prattishness (why can’t it make an argument without trying to score lazy points?) but supports the sentence:
Those who opportunistically[??] try to conflate the Danish cartoon controversy with Irving's case should recall that Austria's (and Germany's) anti-Holocaust denial laws are not so much about protecting the feelings of a religious minority as they are a keenly felt attempt to prevent history from repeating itself. As the saying goes, never again.
Charles Richardson is largely correct to argue that:
Austria's laws against Holocaust denial, like Germany's, were an emergency measure enacted shortly after World War II. The threat of a Nazi revival could then be reasonably regarded as a "clear and present danger" that would override concerns about free speech. But to make the same argument today is just nonsense.
The best argument for the laws, and one I feel sympathy for, is precisely the impact of denialism on a 'religious minority' (a rather strange description of European Jews) and in particular Holocaust survivors, could being a survivor of trauma could change the definition of assault?

For a description of comtemporary denialists see Jonathon Hari he describes the atomsphere at a denialist conference:
The audience reacts with whoops to waves of anti-Semitic
claims and libels. One guy brings up the old myth that
Jews were responsible for the slave-trade; another
claims that they “control the world.” Much of the
audience were brought to their feet cheering for one
smear after another. One little fat man yelled, when
the discussion was opened to the floor, “They think
they can screw anyone they damn well please! The Jews
are trying to show that they can fuck up whoever they
want and nobody’s going to stop ‘em!” He received
crushing applause, including from the conference


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