May Those Who Deny the Holocaust Rot in Prison, for They Defame Its Victims
Jacobson, Howard, The Independent (London, England)
There's a dangerous misapprehension abroad that David Irving has been incarcerated for a "thought-crime". We're on the slippery- slope, critics of laws criminalising Holocaust Denial warn, meaning the slippery-slope to governments determining what we can and cannot think. I have never liked the slippery-slope argument. We're always on a slippery-slope. Life is a slippery-slope to death. Law is a slippery-slope to its misuse. Thursday cannot be held responsible for Friday. But that's not the dangerous misapprehension I speak of. What's dangerous is supposing that David Irving is simply putting forward a point of view, making his own contribution, however cranky, to history. This is to misunderstand the nature of the errand Irving and other Holocaust deniers are on. Let's be plain - Holocaust Denial is Nazism in another guise.
The paradox at the heart of Holocaust Denial - an unacceptable paradox if we are to think of it as scholarship - is that it sets out to refute what it wished had happened. Search the literature and you will not discover a Holocaust denier who is troubled by the idea of extermination itself, who finds Auschwitz inconceivable morally rather than mathematically, who is not at least half in love with Hitler, and who does not believe that however much we scale down the numbers the cause of whatever took place was the inherent odiousness of Jews. Common to them is the conviction that the Auschwitz-Lie is a fabrication by the Jews themselves to extort guilt and reparation, to justify the crimes of Zionism, and to further their ambition of world domination. The Holocaust denier, in other words, repeats the identical slander which fuelled the crime he maintains never happened. The Holocaust denier does not reframe the Holocaust to spare the Jews but to give himself the satisfaction of killing them all over again in his imagination.
Brooded over in the quiet of the study and the heated privacy of the mind, the word for this is paranoia, and its characteristics, above the usual delusional ones, are emotional violence and hate. Proclaimed in public, at neo-Nazi rallies and the like, the word for it is rabble-rousing: an incitement to emotional, and ultimately to actual, violence and hate.
The one word which does not describe it is History.
Holocaust Denial is hate ideology in action' its aim is not the propagation of a truth but the propagandising of that ideology. How far, then, we should accord it the respect owing to free-speech is moot. I am not deaf to the concerns of those who regret Irving's sentence. The last time Irving was taken to the cleaners I wrote of the emptiness I was surprised to feel. Not because his humiliation upset me on a personal level - reduced to living in a rented flat in Kensington was how the newspapers trumpeted his fall, as though a rented flat in Kensington were the nadir of human habitation - but because it is not good when the field of conflict falls silent. You need to keep argument alive' you need an interlocutor of mettle.
Naive of me. Far from hardening into unquestionable official truth with his disgrace, the Holocaust is now more subject to scepticism and fatigue than ever. Those British Muslims who boycott Holocaust Memorial Day on the grounds that it is "exclusivist", and the elected President of Iran who proposes turning his …
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Publication information: Article title: May Those Who Deny the Holocaust Rot in Prison, for They Defame Its Victims. Contributors: Jacobson, Howard - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: February 25, 2006. Page number: 35. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.