Living in Denial

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A prominent historian, David Irving, has been arrested in Austria. He’s an Englishman but they grabbed him as he happened to be passing through the Alps. His. crime? He denies the Holocaust.

This should be shocking to lovers of liberty like us Jews. I mean on both counts: the denial and the arrest.

Religion has nothing to do with this injustice. It is frightening that any state can prosecute a man for his views. We humans are fallible. There are not enough jails in Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Gulag to hold all the dumb, malicious, ideologically incorrect, and just plain mistaken historians.

Now, I consider the venom Irving spews hateful and certainly anti-Semitic. But, it’s no more criminal than believing that the Turks were justified in slaughtering a million Armenians, or that Stalin’s murderous show trials were on the up and up, or that the rape of Nanking was phony, or that 6 million Kulaks were not starved to death by Stalin in the ’20s – and so forth. A lot of warped people, many of whom we would call intellectuals, believed the above. Should we have jailed them, too? Mistaken beliefs should be addressed in the great free courtroom of ideas – not in criminal courtrooms.

Irving’s stupidity or malice, whichever is the proper description, has been addressed in that venue and we can leave any lingering pleas to his maker – who can read the criminality of beliefs, motives, and attitudes far better than any human judge or jury.

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