February 21st, 2006

We didn’t start the fire: should Holocaust Denial be criminalized?

The controversy over yesterday’s David Irving conviction, and the more general question of whether Holocaust denial should be a criminal offense, seem on the surface to be no-brainers, easily resolvable by saying that the principle of free speech dictates that Irving should be given a get out of jail free card, and that the crime itself be wiped off the books.

That’s my knee-jerk answer, and the answer of most of those who wrote in the comments section here.

But, as with almost everything on earth, the actual situation is a bit more complicated than that. First, a little background.

When I started doing the research for this post, I was surprised to find that Holocaust Denial is not a crime in just Germany and Austria, as I’d previously thought. Ten European countries, plus Israel, have established criminal penalties for it:

There are laws against public espousal of Holocaust denial in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland.

The first thing I noticed is that Holocaust Denial itself is not a crime; it’s the public pronouncement of it that is penalized. The speech itself is allowed; what is not allowed is to say it publicly in front of groups–that is, to preach it. It may seem a small distinction, but it’s an interesting one.

The second thing I noticed was that, with the exception of Switzerland (and of course Israel, which represents an obvious special case), the countries involved have characteristics that Great Britain, the US, and Canada do not share: their experience of Nazism or of Nazi occupation in WWII.

To Germans and Austrians the danger of public promulgation of Holocaust denial may indeed (especially when the laws were first passed) have seemed like the danger of yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Likewise–although to a lesser extant–to countries such as Poland, who have reason to know the Holocaust in a way that countries such as Britain and the US never can, Holocaust denial may seem a particular affront and a special danger. “He jests at scars that never felt a wound;” and so it is much easier for countries who have not experienced such a cataclysmic upheaval to be absolutist about protecting freedom of speech.

Author D.D. Guttenplan has some insight on these points, as well as a discussion of the differing legal history of the Anglosphere vs. the continent:

In Britain and the United States we regard Free Speech as sacred. Americans venerate the First Amendment, while Britons cite Milton, who in Areopagitica said true Liberty only exists “when free born men / Having to advise the public may speak free”. Holocaust denial is currently a crime in Austria, France, Germany, Israel, Belgium, Poland, Lithuania and Switzerland. Do the citizens of those countries value freedom less than we do? Or might other factors be involved?

Robert Kahn, author of Holocaust Denial and the Law, points to a ‘fault time’ separating the ‘common law countries’ of the US, Britain, and former British colonies from the ‘civil law countries of continental Europe’. In civil law countries the law is generally more prescriptive. Also under the civil law regime the judge acts more as an inquisitor, gathering and presenting evidence as well as interpreting it.

Unlike the Anglo-American adversarial system, where fairness is the primary attribute of justice, and the judge functions as a referee, trials under the continental system aim at arriving at the truth…

Ultimately, though, it is the difference in historical experience that ought to constrain our attitude to other countries. In Germany and Austria Holocaust denial is not ‘mere’ Jew-baiting but also a channel for Nazi resurgence much like the Hitler salute and the display of the swastika, which are also banned.

The case for a ban in Israel should also be obvious, if not beyond argument. Similarly, countries where the experience of occupation and the shame of collaboration still rankle ought to be able to make their own decisions…

Guttenplan believes, in the end, that countries such as Britain, with its combination of the adversarial legal system and a history free of the Holocaust collaboration shared by much of continental Europe, should never outlaw Holocaust denial, because the danger it represents here is very small compared to the larger negatives of restricting freedom of speech. But he refuses to say the same for countries such as Germany.

Professor Hajo Funke, a German historian, agrees:

“In Germany and in Austria there is a moral obligation to fight the kind of propaganda peddled by Irving. We can’t afford the luxury of the Anglo-Saxon freedom of speech argument in this regard,” he says.

“It’s not that I don’t understand it, it’s just not for us. Not yet. Not for a long time.”

It was about sixty years ago that WWII ended. To those who are young, it may seem to be ancient history. But it really was not so long ago. Countries that know, through bitter and personal experience, the dangers to which anti-Semitism led a mere sixty years ago do consider it (and other hate speech) to be the equivalent of yelling “Fire!” in that proverbial crowded theater.

I can’t find the quote right now, but I remember reading (I believe it was in Primo Levi’s fine and highly recommended Survival in Auschwitz) that one of the ways in which the guards taunted prisoners in the concentration camps–those prisoners who were “lucky” enough to have escaped the ovens, at least for a little while–was by saying to them that they would never live to tell their tale, and that the world would never know or care what they had suffered. What’s more, the guards said, if by some slim chance some of them did somehow survive and report to the world what had happened, the world would never believe them. And in fact the Nazis worked hard to cover their traces, in hopes that the evidence would remain hidden.

Holocaust denial, seen in this light, is a continuation of Nazi thought, and was in fact part of the Nazi plan–and, if allowed to grow and spread, might represent their final triumph. And so (to continue to use the fire metaphor) the who espouse criminalizing it want to snuff it out while it’s still a harmless little brush fire. Because they know that brush fires can grow into–well, into Holocausts.

The Anglosphere has no direct experience of that, fortunately for us. And it has a stronger tradition of freedom of speech.

My personal opinion on Holocaust denial is aligned with that tradition: I believe that it should not be criminalized. I believe it shouldn’t be a crime in the Anglosphere, nor should it (at this late date) be one in Europe.

But I also see Guttenplan’s point about why Europeans are particularly sensitive to this issue, and why they come down harder on Holocaust deniers: these European countries (and Israel) are the ones who’ve been burned.

As for David Irving (remember him?), the Wikipedia article has some interesting background information:

The Holocaust denial movement grew into full strength in the 1970s with the publication of Arthur Butz’ The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The case against the presumed extermination of European Jewry in 1976 and David Irving’s Hitler’s War in 1977. These books, seen as the basis of much of the deniers’ arguments, brought other similarly inclined individuals into the fold.

So, far from being a peripheral figure in the movement, Irving has been instrumental in fanning the flames for quite some time.

In addition, the Austrian government has a special reason for wanting him in jail–and that is that he has openly defied its warnings. Austria issued the warrant against him in 1989, and informed him that if he returned he’d be arrested. And so he did, and so he was:

He was arrested in Austria on 11 November last year when he arrived to give a lecture. He was detained on a warrant issued in 1989 under Austrian laws that make Holocaust denial a crime.

During the trial the judge, Peter Liebtreu, compared him to a “prostitute who has not changed her ways for decades”.

Mr Liebtreu told the court: “He showed no signs that he attempted to change his views after the arrest warrant was issued 16 years ago in Austria. Although he tried to persuade the court, he failed.

“He is not just someone who sold Hitler statues or who made people do Hitler salutes. He served as an example for the right wing for decades.”

So, what about the argument that arresting Irving only gives him publicity, and sympathy for his new status as a free speech martyr? A good point, in my opinion. But here’s a differing one that broadens the geographic context of Irving’s influence:

The fact is, however, that Irving and his ilk have become dangerous. The interests of the European and North American Holocaust deniers – from Ernst Zundel (on trial in Germany) to the French “scholar” Robert Faurisson – are merging with those of the anti-Semitic ideologists of Arab nationalism and Iranian theocratic rule. If Irving walks free from the Wien-Josefstadt Prison next week he will soon be packing his suitcase for the Holocaust conference in Tehran.

The German authorities have already sensibly confiscated the passport of Horst Mahler – a neo-Nazi who has been advising Zundel on his courtroom defence – to prevent him travelling to Iran. Will we do the same for Irving? Of course not. Suspected English football hooligans will be under virtual house arrest during the World Cup, but Irving, as usual, will be free to travel anywhere. You know: freedom of speech.

The Irving-is-a-chump school describes him as a “fringe academic addressing a group of loopy far-right radicals wearing silly hats in a basement in Vienna”. Jailing the man is supposed to award him an undeserved importance. This is a truly parochial view, given that the problem is not strange, skinheaded Austrians in lederhosen (though I worry a bit about them, too) but bearded men in turbans who have never made their peace with Israel. The European input has always been important to the development of anti-Semitism in the Middle East. The widespread Arab hatred of Jews does not derive from the Koran: it stems from the need of national liberation movements for hate figures.

European anti-Semites have fed them from the start. Palestinian nationalists aligned themselves with Nazi Germany, identifying Zionism as the enemy. As the state of Israel took shape, Arab writers (borrowing heavily from European deniers) presented the Nazi gas chambers as a flimsy myth designed to justify a land-grab.

An interesting point. But, in the end, an irrelevant one. Because the sad truth is that the damage has already been done. The horse is out of the barn, the cat is out of the bag, Humpty Dumpty has fallen off his wall and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men and all the jailers in Austria will not undo the influence of the European anti-Semitism that has been tainting the Arab world for much of this century.

So it seems to me that the only remedy is free speech in the theater of ideas. We must believe in the ability of truth to ultimately triumph, and in our ability to wage war against those who would preach hate and follow through on it with destruction. If Irving and his ilk have influenced Iran, the damage is long done, and the remedies lie elsewhere–unfortunately.

[ADDENDUM: Sigmund, Carl, & Alfred has related thoughts. In addition, thought-provoking posts on the subject are provided by fellow psychobloggers Shrinkwrapped and Dr. Sanity.]

52 Responses to “We didn’t start the fire: should Holocaust Denial be criminalized?”

  1. Youssef Says:

    “it is an established fact that all the Prophets and Messengers of God were sent as light bearers to humanity; they all came with the purpose of upholding the truth, maintaining justice and bringing man closer to his Lord. In accomplishing this task, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), as well as other Prophets of God, had to undergo a series of difficulties, hardships and torment to make people grasp and believe in the message brought to them. But none of these Prophets initiated attack or aggression against their people. On the contrary, they tasted all kinds of torture and persecution in the course of their mission. So the main feature of all these Prophets was showing mercy and praying for their people’s guidance. “(source: http://www.islam-online.net)

    ““Almighty Allah says: “Say ye: we believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord: we make no difference between one and another of them: and we bow to Allah (in Islam).” (Al-Baqarah: 136)

    “Behold! the angels said: ‘O Mary! Allah giveth Thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah.” (Al `Imran: 45)

    We believe in all the Prophets and Messengers of Allah. We respect and honor all of them without any discrimination. We believe that all Prophets preached the message of tawhid (monotheism) and all of them invited human beings to worship Allah alone and live a righteous life. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was not the only Prophet of God, but he was the last and final Prophet of God. Prophet Muhammad is not the founder of Islam; all Prophets were Muslims and they followed the way of Islam. “(source: http://www.islam-online.net)

    “It may be a surprise to many people in America that we Muslims also believe in Jesus. Although we do not celebrate Christmas, but we do respect and honor the person in whose name this festival is observed. We believe that Jesus was one of the great Prophets of God. In the Qur’an he is called ‘Isa. He is also known as al-Masih (the Christ) and Ibn Maryam (Son of Mary). He has many other beautiful names and titles in the Qur’an. He is a highly respected religious figure. Every Muslim honors him, respects him and loves him. His mother is also highly respected, loved and honored. There are hundreds of thousands of Muslim men all over the world who feel proud and blessed to have the name `Isa; as there are thousands of Muslim women who feel honored and blessed to be called Maryam.

    Unlike the Gospels or the New Testament in general, the subject matter of the Qur’an is not Jesus. The Qur’an speaks in detail about God, God’s will for human beings and about many of God’s Prophets and Messengers. Yet, all the basic facts about Jesus’ life are mentioned in the Qur’an. The Qur’an says in several places that Mary was a pious virgin who devoted her life in prayer and divine service. The angel of God one day visited her and gave her the good news of the birth of a blessed child. This was a miraculous birth as Mary was not a married woman. The virgin birth is clearly mentioned in the Qur’an and no recognized Muslim authority has ever disputed this claim. However, Muslim and Christian interpretations differ on the meaning of virgin birth. For Christians it was the sign of incarnation, the coming to earth of the Son of God. For Muslims it was a special miracle. For every Prophet a particular miracle was given according to the needs and challenges of his time. Since Jesus’ contemporaries used to deny the existence of spirit, they were shown the presence and the power of divine spirit by this unique birth. Jesus also performed many other miracles, such as raising of the dead to life, healing the blind and lepers, speaking about the hidden things. All these miracles show that material is not the only thing; there is something beyond the material that must be recognized. Jesus reminds us about the power of Divine Spirit. The Qur’an emphasizes that Jesus performed all his miracles only by the permission of God.”
    (source: http://www.islam-online.net)

    “Muslims and Christians differ in their Theology (views about God) and their Christology (views about Christ), but they both believe in the same God and in the same Jesus. There should be better understanding and better relations among them.” (source: http://www.islam-online.net

  2. Youssef Says:

    “Prophet “Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was a matchless leader, a veteran statesman in the full sense of the word, a father to the fatherless, a source of solace to the hopeless, a beaming light to the oppressed, an illumination to those who lost their way inside the dark tunnel of ignorance.

    With matchless mercy, he treated his enemies. With astounding justice he instructed his companions (may Allah be pleased with them all) to treat all and sundry with due respect and fairness irrespective of geographical boundaries and religious inclinations. It was the character of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) to meet the persecution and torture of his enemies with pardon and tolerance. He was the most merciful person. Allah called him as “a mercy to the worlds” (Al-Anbiya’: 107). He was merciful to his family, followers, friends, even enemies. He was merciful to young and old, to humans and to animals. Those who persecuted him in Makkah and killed his relatives and his followers, when they were defeated in the battles and brought as captives, were forgiven by him. He did not ever take revenge or retaliated. He was the most forgiving person.

    Here, we would like to cite for you the following:

    “Bleeding from head to toe, battered and exhausted, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was faced with a choice. Should he or should he not seek to destroy the people who had just humiliated him by having their children chase him out of town while throwing stones at him? And what was his crime? All he wanted to do was to share his message and seek to benefit his people.

    Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was in At-Ta’if, a lush town of green palm trees, fruit and vegetables, about 50 miles southeast of his arid hometown Makkah. He was hoping that perhaps the people of this town would be receptive to his message, which had been rejected by most of the Makkans for more than a decade.

    However, the people of At-Ta’if proved just as cruel and intolerant as his own people. Not only did they scorn his message of Allah’s Oneness, but they turned their youth against him as well. In the face of this misery, the Angel Gabriel was sent and presented him with an option: the whole town could be destroyed, by Allah’s Will, for their arrogance and hatefulness.

    He (peace and blessings be upon him) could have done it. He could have asked that those children who pelted him with stones be finished off along with their intolerant parents, but he didn’t!

    No, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told the Angel not to destroy the people of At-Ta’if. Instead of cursing the children of this town, he prayed for their salvation. That is just one example of how this man, whom Allah describes as a “mercy to mankind” (Al-Anbiya’:107) dealt with those who opposed him. It is just one of the many examples in the life of a person who faced constant death threats, actual attempts on his life, and abuse and humiliation at the hands of those threatened by his simple yet profound message: there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger. The people of At-Ta’if were not the only ones who tasted this mercy. It was his habit to pray for his enemies all the time. Two of his most bitter enemies, Abu Jahl and `Umar were also the objects of his prayers.

    The Prophet made similar supplications for his people on a regular basis: “O Allah! Guide my people, for they know not,” he would pray, as he and his followers were beaten, humiliated, scorned and ridiculed.

    On another occasion, some Companions came to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and said: “O Messenger of Allah! The tribe of Daws have committed disbelief and disobeyed (your commands). Supplicate Allah against them!” Contrary to the people’s expectations, the Prophet said: “O Allah! Guide Daws and let them come to us.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari).

    These are just a few glimpses at how the Prophet dealt with those who opposed him. His opponents were not just people who fought his message on an intellectual level, they were individuals bent on destroying him, his family, his followers and Islam itself.

    Contrast this nobility with some ignorant believers today who are found cursing others and praying for the destruction of the world. We do not know the aims of individuals. We do not even know ourselves. So let’s keep making Du`a’ that we stay on the right path and that Allah will guide others to it as well.”(http://www.islam-online.net)

  3. Youssef Says:

    “The Prophet Muhammad is introduced in the Qur’an in these words:
    [And We have not sent you forth but as a mercy to mankind.] (Al-Anbiyaa’: 107)
    This shows that his distinctive quality was that he was a blessing incarnate in word and deed.
    According to a tradition recorded in the Sahih of Imam Muslim, when the Prophet’s opponents greatly increased their persecution, his Companions asked him to curse them. At this the Prophet replied, “I have not been sent to lay a curse upon men but to be a blessing to them.” His opponents continued to treat him and his Companions unjustly and cruelly, but he always prayed for them.
    Once he was so badly stoned by his enemies that the blood began to spurt from all over his body. This happened when he went to Ta’if, where the Hijaz aristocracy used to while away their summer days. When he attempted to call them to Islam, instead of listening to his words of wisdom, they set the street urchins upon him, who kept chasing him till nightfall. Even at that point, when he was utterly exhausted and bleeding from head to foot, all he said was, “O my Lord, guide my people along the true path, as they are ignorant of the truth.”
    His heart was filled with intense love for all human kind irrespective of caste, creed, or color. Once he advised his Companions to regard all people as their brothers and sisters. He added, “You are all Adam’s offspring and Adam was born of clay.”
    All this tells us what kind of awareness he wanted to bring about in man. His mission was to bring people abreast of the reality that all men and women, although inhabiting different regions of the world, and seemingly different from one another as regards their color, language, dress, culture, etc., were each other’s blood brothers. Hence a proper relationship will be established between all human beings only if they regard one another as sisters and brothers. Only then will proper feelings of love and respect prevail throughout the world.
    According to a hadith, the Prophet once said, “A true believer is one with whom others feel secure. One who returns love for hatred.” The Prophet made it clear that one who would only return love for love was on a lower ethical plane. We should never think that we should treat people well only if they treat us well. We should, rather, be accustomed to being good to those who are not good to us and to not wronging those who harm us.”(source:http://www.islam-online.net)

  4. Youssef Says:

    “Islam is indeed a religion of love and peace. Islam does not teach people to kill all those who disagree with them simply because they disagree with them. If certain bigoted Muslims did so that is not the fault of Islam. How unjust would it be to say that Christianity is a religion that teaches violence and blood shed by looking at the historical performance of some so-called Christians: After all, Hitler who committed genocide against the Jews, the white supremacists in South America who practiced barbarities against the blacks, the Serbs who committed genocide against the Muslims in Bosnia, those who systematically practiced mass slaughter of Muslims and Jews in Spain, and burned heretics, etc. all claimed to be Christians. What about the Christians still killing each other in Ireland? So why use double standards in judging Islam? Stereotyping is wrong regardless of against whom we use it.

    Vast majority of Muslims have nothing to do with such violence or bloodshed that may or may not have been committed by those who claim to be Muslims. According to the strict verdict of the Qur’an, taking life of a single human being unjustly is akin to taking the life of all humanity. A good Muslim, therefore, is one who believes in sanctity of all life. The Prophet, peace be upon him, taught us that if a person were to kill even a single little sparrow, it would appear before the Lord of the worlds seeking God’s justice against the person!” (Source: http://www.islam.ca)

    “First of all, it should be clear that Islam maintains the protection of life and does not sanction any violation against it, irrespective of the people’s religion, race, sect, etc.. The Qur’an says about the prohibition of murder, “…Take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus does He command you, that ye may learn wisdom.” (Al-An`am: 151) “Nor take life, which Allah has made sacred, except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, We have given his heir authority (to demand Qisas or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life; for he is helped (by the law)” (Al-Isra’: 33)

    According to the Qur’an, killing any person without a just cause is as big a sin as killing the whole humanity and saving the life of one person is as good deed as saving the whole humanity. (See Al-Ma’idah: 32) Muslims do not hate – let alone kill – non-Muslims, be they Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhist or followers of any religion or no religion. Our religion does not allow killing any innocent person regardless of his or her religion. The life of all human beings is sacrosanct according to the teachings of the Qur’an and the guidance of our blessed Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and upon all the Prophets and Messengers of Allah.

    When we Muslims state that Islam is a religion of peace, we are not trying to prove something unreasonable or solve a crossword puzzle. Rather, we are just stating a fact backed by clear-cut evidence and unquestionable proofs. Even we don’t need to state this fact, for Islam, in itself, is self-explanatory, in terms of its meaning, its noble teachings and the core of its message conveyed by the Prophets Allah sent to mankind.

    With that statement, we don’t intend to sound apologetic, for Islamic concept of peace is very clear. It does not mean weakness, slavishness or surrendering to aggression and injustice. The Islamic concept of peace aims at securing security and harmony for the whole world, without any discrimination as to religion, race or color. Thus, Islam, right from its inception, waged a total war against injustice and oppression. It has made it clear that people should not be deprived of having access to the light of guidance. But throughout its history you can never find any trace of infringing upon people’s right to self expression, even at times that such right was misused. The cogent example to be mentioned here is the way the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, received the two envoys sent by Musailamah Al-Kazzab (the Liar). His fine remarks always ring in mind whenever the issue of diplomatic immunity comes to fore. He, peace and blessings be upon him, told the envoys when they addressed him in a very provocative way: “If not that the envoys should not be killed, I’d have ordered for you to be beheaded”, thus laying down the rule that was later codified as one of the principles of the modern international law.

    The point here is, it’s not of the Islamic teachings to kill people just because they happen to be non-Muslims or happen to disagree with Muslims on some points. What attests to this is the fact that the first war in the Islamic history would have never occurred if not that the enemies of Islam could not be satisfied with expelling Muslims from their home (Makkah), rather they planned to carry the aggression to Madinah in order to exterminate Muslims once and for all. So the question that should have been asked is: why do opponents are always on the trail of Muslims?”(source: http://www.islam-online.net)

  5. Youssef Says:

    Concerning this fabricated incorrect quote previously mentioned:
    “While Muhammad had hoped that the Jews of Medina, as monotheists with a scripture,would recognize his prophetic claims, most of them opposed him with ridicule and rebellion….In the ensuing struggle, most of the Jews were killed or banished. The direction of prayer for the muslims was changed from Jerusalem to Mecca….”

    This is not True and nonesense and clearly fabricated. I would have hoped this person to have stated his source intead of picking out INCOMPLETE phrases to make a completely wrong image about Islam
    No ISLAM DOES NOT OPPOSE OR HATE THE JEWS OR ANY OTHER RELIGION OR RACE . ANYONE WHO CLAIMS THAT ISLAM HATES JEWS CLEARLY DOES NOT UNDERSTAND ANYTHING ABOUT ISLAM. arabs do not hate Jews in fact there are jewish arabs and arabs respect freedom of religion. Most of the above comments manifest a BIG misunderstanding to Islam or the reality.
    Im sure visiting RELIABLE websites like (www.islamonline.net) at least once would help alot in understanding this world wide spreading peacefull religion.
    Or please reply to me at (yo_bek@hotmail.com) for any questions or comments and I would be happy to help.
    Thank you

  6. Youssef Says:

    Many of the comments seem to think that arabs are terrorist. I don’t blame you cause its the Media that’s making you think this by brainwashing the west to think that arabs are terrorist so everyone would hate them and go against them, making it easy for Bush to invade Iraq or Israel to continue its bloodshed killing and raping of weaponless-palestenian civilians robbing of their homeland…Ive watched BBC and know what you guys think because mainly it is biased showing arabs as being related to Ben ladin, while It is clear that Arabs hate Benladin and any violence. Saudi Arabia for example is not like what some say to be the home country of people living in the desert planning crazy ways to bomb people. On the contrary If you’ve ever been there you’d discover that Saudi Arabian people are mainly highly educated civilised, kind people who are totally against killing of innocents or even harming anyone and thats why they banned Ben ladin from living in Saudia Arabia in the first place and kicked him out. I understand all the negative erroneous views that many media sources attempt to ruin the arab Image for political interests, but don’t fall for that prejudice. If I ask most westerners “Do you know any Arabic names?” almost everyone would say Ben ladin and Saddam Hussein!!!.. (like the arabs haven’t suffered enough from these two)If you want to see what media like the BBC and Fox are really hiding open Aljazeera and see the truths behind the American killing and torturing of hundreds of innocent at Goantanamo Bay, lacking any sound justice at all …or the massacres and ruining by the Savage Israely occupants and their tanks on the poor Palestenian women and young children who own nothing but sticks and stones?! How come you don’t see these pictures in BBC/Fox which you see at AlJazeera. Then they say ALjazeera reporters and juoranalist are all “terrorists” and continue to have their Media sources aid them in their war against the Arabs by hiding whats really in the war scene. And create this PHOBIA over the world against arabic countries. Open your eyes to the truths and try to learn the true nature of the arabic people instead of justing them based on what some people say.. It would help you alot if you visit (www.islamonline.net) at least once.
    THANK YOU and I hope you would reply back to me for any comments at (yo_bek@hotmail.com) and I would be more than happy to discuss it with you.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Can anyone tell me three reasons why holocaust denial should not be criminalized and explain each briefly….thanks alot :)

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  12. Anonymous Says:

    Do not investigate the Holocaust. If you have any desire and ability to find the truth, you will become a Revisionist, and it will ruin your life. You will be branded an anti-semitic Nazi.

    Do not read further unless you’re a brave soul, for here, there be monsters. ;)

  13. Fern Sidman Says:

    ANTI-SEMITIC JEW SPEAKS AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

    BY: FERN SIDMAN

    Columbia University students including the College Conservatives and campus Democrats plan to protest a speech Wednesday by a professor who has written that Jewish organizations exploit the Holocaust to deflect criticism of Israel and to extort European banks and governments for compensation.

    Norman Finkelstein, an assistant professor of political science at DePaul University in Chicago, wrote in his 2000 book “The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering” that some Jews have used the Holocaust as an “extortion racket” to get compensation payments, and he has referred to Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel as the “resident clown” of the “Holocaust circus.”

    His most recent book, “Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History,” is largely an attack on lawyer Alan Dershowitz’s “The Case for Israel.” In it he argues that Israel uses the outcry over perceived anti-Semitism as a bully weapon to stifle criticism.

    In an editorial in Columbia University’s student newspaper, The Columbia Spectator, Columbia sophomores, Chris Kulawik and Josh Lipsky write the following: “Those who assume that Finkelstein is just another “controversial” speaker, one of many in Columbia’s recent past, fail to grasp the absurdity that is Finkelstein. Taking a job at DePaul University after being fired by New York University for his ludicrous and factually inaccurate book, The Holocaust Industry, this “scholar” makes his living off of absurd statements that garner comfortable speaking engagements. At a recent speech delivered at Yale University, Finkelstein equated the Jewish concern over Holocaust denial with a “level of mental hysteria.” Clearly, we must first question his very “professorship.” Anyone who so blatantly disregards facts and vehemently supports the murder of innocent children is worthy neither of academia nor of the title of professor.

    Well, what precisely is Mr. Finkelstein’s crime? It is not that he is a Holocaust revisionist. It is not that he denies the right of the Jewish state to exist. It is not that he cheapened the lives of the millions of innocents lost to the concentration camps by equating their systematic murder to any other large disaster. No, his crime both includes and transcends these radical, depraved stances. Only months after Sept. 11, 2001, Finkelstein asserted his support of terrorism. In that 2001 interview, Finkelstein exclaimed, “Frankly, part of me says—even though everything since Sept. 11 has been a nightmare—’You know what, we deserve the problem on our hands because some things [Osama] bin Laden says are true.’”

    It is this sentiment that forces students to take a stand against Finkelstein’s unique blend of pure idiocy and potent evil. Columbia attempts to teach its students to respect all opinions, listen to all viewpoints, and embrace the free exchange of ideas. We will listen, but we will not let a petty ploy to incite tension and turmoil go unnoticed.”

    In defense of Professor Finkelstein, the Columbia Spectator also published the views of Arab students. Maryum Saifee and Athar Abdul-Quader who write, “Finkelstein’s critics, most notably Alan Dershowitz, charge Finkelstein with anti-Semitism precisely because of his criticism of Zionism, i.e. criticism of the Israeli occupation and Israeli state-sponsored human rights abuses committed against Palestinians. This isn’t the first time that a reputable scholar has been typecast as anti-Semitic for critical views against Israeli policies (see David Horowitz’s The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America). Undoubtedly, anti-Semitism is an ugly, appalling form of bigotry that deserves universal condemnation. However, Zionism is a political ideology and must never be confused with the Jewish religion, culture, or population. Contrary to the anti-American label commonly placed on Finkelstein, his critique of political Zionism is precisely the type of controversial political discourse that is characteristically American and is analogous to the College Democrats’ stimulating debate on the Bush administration.

    Finkelstein is often met with accusations of Holocaust revisionism, generally associated with Holocaust denial. Finkelstein’s book The Holocaust Industry is actually a critique of Holocaust revisionist arguments that privilege the Holocaust as exceptional in the historiography of genocide. Far from the Anti-Defamation League’s claims that Finkelstein is a Holocaust denier, his proof is an unambiguous affirmation that the Holocaust did occur — his parents are living proof of its horrors! — noting that the tragedy of the Holocaust has since been ruthlessly exploited and commercialized into what Finkelstein outlines as an industry to promote Zionist interests.”

    In Norman Finkelstein’s own words, he states, “The problem is when you get to the United States. In the United States among those people who call themselves supporters of Israel, we enter the area of unreason. We enter a twilight zone. American Jewish organizations, they’re not only not up to speed yet with Steven Spielberg, they’re still in the Leon Uris exodus version of history: the “this land is mine, God gave this land to me,” and anybody who dissents from this, you can call it, lunatic version of history is then immediately branded an anti-Semite, and whenever Israel comes under international pressure to settle the conflict diplomatically, or when it is subjected to a public relations debacle, such as it was with the Second Intifada, a campaign is launched claiming there is a new anti-Semitism afoot in the world.”

    There is no question that Professor Norman G. Finkelstein is a self hating, viciously anti-Semitic Jew. One of his biggest supporters is David Irving, the Holocaust denier who was recently sentenced to three years in prison by an Austrian court for statements he made denying the veracity of the Holocaust. Despite the fact that Finkelstein in the son of Holocaust survivors, his vituperative and twisted and patently distorted logic is being embraced the world over by legions of devoted Jew haters.

    We are told that a person can be honest, decent, moral and ethical without belief in G-d. We know that at the beginning of the 20th century, the false gods of education and culture began to replace the One true G-d of Israel. Jews began to believe that a moral and ethical person was one who was highly educated, one who attended the best of most prestigious universities and institutions of higher learning. We believed that an educated and cultured person was a moral person, who would never even entertain the notion of murder, of dishonesty and engaging in unethical practices.

    At the beginning of World War II, that fallacy fell apart at the seams. For it was highly educated and extremely cultured German scientists who invented the gas chambers, who invented techniques to transform Jewish fat into soap and who discovered ways of making Jewish skin into lampshades. It was highly educated and cultured lawyers who devised and created laws that developed a society predicated on racism, fascism and xenophobia.

    Let us never be fooled. “Reishis Chochma Yiras AdoShem”. The beginning of wisdom is the fear and knowledge of G-d. Without that we have nothing. Without that, even highly educated and cultured people can and do engage in immorality, unethical conduct and become purveyors of lies, hatred, distortions, bigotry and Jew hatred. Professor Finkelstein is the personification of such evil.

  14. Ymarsakar Says:

    VDH weighs in.

  15. Ymarsakar Says:

    The cartoons were meant to satirize the fact that a children’s book author lived under such a culture of fear, that he couldn’t get any artists to draw certain things for him.

    It’s not a hypocrisy exactly, unless the Islamics are saying they don’t terrorize people like the children’s book author and artists.

  16. jng Says:

    Brad, you said “Once we wade into the waters of thought/speech crimes we’re done for”

    It’s a tsunami in most of Academia.
    And in the MSM (which is why we’re talking in the blogosphere.)

    Have you seen the speech codes on University campuses? Tried to argue the Bush Doctrine at Harvard?
    Challenged CBS/NBC/ABC or the NYT about deliberate misreporting of terrorism? Or accepted the fact that YOU are guilty of a hate crime for resisting daily Leftist rant?

    WE live under speech restriction, controlled and manipulated. It is a refusal to allow real discussion. Who occupies the American public square?

  17. Brad Says:

    Holocaust denial absolutely should not be considered a criminal act. Once we wade into the waters of thought/speech crimes we’re done for.

  18. grackle Says:

    Callimachus: It’s an unfortunate side-effect of this trial that Islamists have been able to call attention to this case as an example of hypocrisy in the Western commitment to freedom of speech as invoked in the case of the Danish cartoon drawings of Muhammad.

    Another unfortunate thing is that anyone would consider that the Islamists have a case for Western hypocrisy merely because a few countries in the West have anti-Holocaust denial laws & occasionally jail a violator. It’s not like anti-Holocaust denial laws are ubiquitous throughout the Western nations.

    The real hypocrisy is that one article with illustrations in one Danish newspaper could be considered excuse for the Islamists to stir up all the hate & mayhem, especially when it is a fact that much more reprehensible cartoons than the relatively mild examples published in Denmark are published all the time in Islamic sources.

  19. Ymarsakar Says:

    If Muslims would stop confusing their political ideology, Islam, with their religion, Islam, things would be much better.

    Islam cannot have it both ways: pretend to be a religion and demand special respect while operating as a political ideology which, by definition, must be open to criticism and even denigration.

    [...]

    It is a sad fact that such terms as spirituality (ruhaniyat), theology (kalam), theologian (mutukallim), and philosopher (failasuf) have disappeared from the Islamic lexicon. Excessive politicisation is killing Islam as a religion and, at the same time, destroying Muslim literature, art and culture. More importantly, as far as Britain is concerned it is also mobilising negative energies that could threaten our democracy.

    Link

  20. Anonymous Says:

    Neo: This is Anon 1017. I am perfectly well aware that Jerusalem is more important to relgious Jews than it is to religious Muslims, for obvious reasons. But that is not the same thing as saying it is not important to Muslims. It clearly is, and the Dome of the Rock is an example. Yes, I also know that one can belittle the whole Muslim thing by the way they co-opted other people’s religious sites and made them their own, etc. etc. But that wouldn’t stop anyone from belittling Jewish claims either, when you come right down to it.

    I remember when Jews could not worship at the “Wailing Wall” and I thought that was outrageous. So long as Israel guarantees Muslim access, then they deserve props for that. The dilemma, however, as to “who” Jerusalem belongs to will remain.

    You can go round and round on this, but I have to make a couple things clear:

    I am not a practising religious person. I was not raised or confirmed in any faith. I think religion is an ideology that can do much good — from an ethical POV — but I think it’s mostly just untrue.

    Therefore I can’t be too persuaded by what is basically a Jewish defense of the centrality of Jerusalem. I mean, the argument can be made, but I’m not the one who needs persuading. Either one respects the fact that Muslims have lived in “Al Aqsa” for centuries, and feel some profound connection to it, or you don’t. The consequences of that have nothing to do with me. Cheers.

  21. neo-neocon Says:

    Actually, anonymous 10:17, Jerusalem was not a particularly holy city to Moslems (especially as compared to its importance in Jewish history), and their antipathy to Israel certainly is not based on that. See this.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    I think it’s really naive to think that Muslims hate Jews because of the Holocaust. It’s more likely they hate them because they consider them illegitimate controllers of Jerusalem, which is also a holy city to Muslims.

    In the same way it’s “denial” to pretend that hundreds of thousands of Arabs were not displaced when Israel became independent, and were not allowed back, and will not be allowed back. Everyone knows this.

    Personally I think the Palestinians and the Muslims should get over it, and move on, but they aren’t holding on because of the Holocaust. Please.

    PS: It would help if the Israelis just got out of as much of the West Bank as practicable, as they did in Gaza, and just increased the fence. Then the Palestinians would become just irrelevant.

  23. Callimachus Says:

    Excellent post. I fully agree that Irving should not be in jail; he should be out in the public arena trying to prove his case and seeing it shreded by the historical record. Like Jefferson, I’m willing to “tolerate error as long as reason is free to combat it.”

    It’s an unfortunate side-effect of this trial that Islamists have been able to call attention to this case as an example of hypocrisy in the Western commitment to freedom of speech as invoked in the case of the Danish cartoon drawings of Muhammad.

  24. Ymarsakar Says:

    Go here and read this guy’s articles on weapons.

    Link

  25. Goesh Says:

    1.)Get training from a qualified professional and know well the Laws of the state regarding firearms in which you reside. Do not even handle the gun until you have had such training 2.)Regard all guns as loaded at all times, even when you know they are unloaded 3.) If at any time children are present, the gun must be unloaded and the ammo kept away from the gun and both well secured. If you have children in the home, you have a problem, because an unloaded gun or one that is locked away is of no use in an extreme, immediate emergency.
    4.) If ever forced to use a gun, your soul will be ‘marked’ and you will relive it every day. 5.) Once purchased, a gun can always be pawned.

  26. Terry A. Hoover Says:

    To Arm Chair Pessimist

    If you are talking about home defense or self defense in general, get a shot gun.

    If you just want to learn how to handle a rifle start with a twenty two. You can always work your way up in calibers later, but nearly every one I know who owns a rifle started with a twenty two.

    As for pistols (and most folks here will think I’m nuts) my favorite is a replica of a cap and ball Navy thirty six, closely followed by the Army forty four. They are surprisingly easy to control and (pardon the pun) a blast to fire. What can I say? I’m old fashioned. Heck, I shave with my great grandfather’s straight razor. Again, if you are thinking about home or self defense well, if you’re within pistol range and in a situation where six shots isn’t going to get you out of it you aren’t going to get out of it anyway.

    Good luck

  27. armchair pessimist Says:

    Goesh,
    I’ll go even further. To possess arms is not only the citizens’ right, it’s their duty. This is a very new thought to me, so I am only now starting to fulfill this duty.
    Any suggestions to this newbie as to rifle? Shotgun? Pistol?

  28. Goesh Says:

    It’s been a few years now, maybe 6, since I was a heckler at a kkk rally. To the best of my recollection, there were 6-8 klansmen and several hundred hecklers, mostly White. You could see cops in civilian clothes dispersed in the crowd – they wore sunglasses and kept looking around at the crowd, not paying any attention to the klansmen. We hooted and hollered and heckled and chanted but there was no violence at all. We shouted down the head sheet of the bunch and they left early. When they concluded, cops swarmed around them, like a shield, a whole bunch of them and escorted them out of town. It is the simple things that often speak the loudest, but what comes to my mind is the fact that of that crowd of hecklers, I would bet heavily that at least half, if not significantly more, had weapons at home – pistols, shotguns, rifles. Somehow I think this this in part accounts for our total lack of fear and concern and reservation over heckling some large racist men with a known propensity for violence. We were truly a free people on that afternoon as we heckled and hooted at known racists. Europe does not have an armed civilian population and that may account for the difference in attitude towards this whole affair of holocaust denial and potential consequences of allowing it to spread and organize. On the other hand, Europe is about powerless over islamofacists that take to the streets and become violent. I simply cannot relate to anyone who feels they must and can only rely on the police/military for their security and protection. I find this more troubling than the advocacy of holocaust denial or the suppression of it.

  29. Ymarsakar Says:

    If Europe thinks that by outlawing Holocaust denial, that they are somehow the “Good guys”, then they should read this.

    Link

    Anyone going to arrest this guy?

    No.

    Not only can Holocaust denial laws be used against the Jews and other innocents, but the exterminators don’t even have to deny the Holocaust to DO IT!!!

    I don’t think the author wrote martial nobility to refer to knights and princes, but to a set of ideals that allow force to liberate instead of oppress. A group that uses martial skills to protect, instead of destroy. The Marine Corps, no better friend, no worse enemy.

  30. markus Says:

    I think this is fighting the last war. The threat to Jewish security doesn’t really come from skinheads, crackpots and eccentrics in Austria. It comes from Zionist-hating Muslims living in the Middle East, as well as in Europe, were they are threatening and drawing the emnity of those same skinheads, crackpots and eccentrics.

    The problem is that banning speech considered by Jews to be defamatory forces one to also ban speech that Muslims consider defamatory. At any rate, I’m not aware of anyone drawing a credibile distinction between the two.

  31. Anonymous Says:

    “A martial nobility and stubborn commons, possessed of arms, tenacious of property, and collected into constitutional assemblies form the only balance capable of preserving a free constitution against the enterprise of an aspiring prince”

    Well, nowadays we of the stubborn commons have to be our own martial nobility. Still, this remark of Gibbon nails why the USA is still free and the European Union is not, even if their princes are very reasonable bureaucrats who simply want to make sure nobody gets hurt.

  32. Ymarsakar Says:

    Refuting holocaust deniers isn’t hard; why put ourselves to so much trouble?

    We’ve already told Europe to follow the American lead, and their refusal to is not an AMerican problem at all.

    Nazis are not a threat to Europe’s political system.

    It was always socialism, and that hasn’t changed.

    The problem with the Euros is that they can’t differentiate between a person’s right to free speech and a person’s right not to be forced to listen. They can’t and won’t stop people from being intimidated into listening by thugs and criminals. So instead of doing the right thing and killing the thugs, they outlaw the speech.

    Which doesn’t make a lot of sense in the US because we can protect ourselves from violence of the political kind through lots of personal weapons and police. So we don’t need to outlaw hate speech in fear that it will produce violence, since we already made sure that free speech would be available without fear.

    The Founding Fathers recognized that even if there were no laws against a certain kind of speech, if the people self-censure themselves as the French and British do, then whatever the law says, the reality is totally different.

    There is indeed no free speech in a climate of fear. Hence, you must make sure that citizens not only are protected by the police and the army, but that citizens know how to protect themselves against mob violence and home invasion.

    Without that safety net, there is no such thing as the First Ammendment, regardless of how much paper it takes up in lawyer’s offices. Just as there is no such thing as private property given the Kelo Act.

    There is no merit to this guy being locked up, regardless of whose country you are from or how violent your group affiliations are.

    It’s like one of those last gasps from Europe, before they die, and they want to call out for help but something is stopping them. Quite pathetic really.

    Oh, well, if they don’t want to move to the US from Europe, I guess they’ll have to endure the violence because America ain’t exactly the World Imperial Master. We can’t reach into the far corners of the globe and save people from the consequences of their own actions. We don’t even get paid for the interventions we do do.

    Perhaps if Europe had been wise in 2001 and promoted American Imperialism and gave us the support we needed, we might have been in a position of wealth and power to give some protection to our “allies”, but at the moment we’re kind of busy. I think they can subconsciously understand the ramifications of opposing and “balancing” the United States now.

    We told France awhile ago that we won’t be there when they needed us anymore. It’s time Europe grew up and stopped yelling like little kids.

    Cause if they don’t grow up, it ain’t going to be the Irvings that blow up their cities and kill their women and children.

  33. Goesh Says:

    What a tough issue – here in the US we have a different type of neo-nazi, and not nearly the threat seen in Europe. I saw a documentary on a skinhead group in Mississippi the other night. Good grief, it was a bunch of homeless teens strutting around pretending to be storm troopers, under the sway of a real nazi-type who later had his parole revoked. I feel more menaced by my neighbors dog than these waifs. Our nazis are more like common thugs and criminals and perhaps the nazi ideology that still lives in Europe is indeed a political threat that I don’t see and appreciate. I suppose there is then some merit to this guy being locked up. Tough times and tough issues.

  34. Mark Melb Says:

    Thankyou for your Blog and the opportunity to particiate in this discussion.

    I have two points to make:

    First, to add my skepticism about the benefits of jailing David Irving: When we look at the historical development of fascism in the late 1920s and 1930s, one of the common threads of fascist ideology was an appeal to a disaffected middle-class who were frustrated with big government and big business. Although fascism becomes the exact opposite, one of the ways it gathers support is in feeding a certain ‘libertarian’ sentiment against the interference of authority. In the current political climate, many people feel no power over their lives. Sadly, the people who feel the sharp end of international recession and economic restructuring are usually the least able to get a handle on exactly what forces are re-shaping their lives. They want to blame somebody, so when neo-nazis come along sharing an (often quite reasonable) hostility to government abuse of civil liberties, the conrtol of big business etc. they find a willing audience. Add to that the fascists’ ability to offer a black-and-white solution and a racist/anti-semitic scapegoat and it’s easy to see how neo-nazis target their ‘recruits’.

    In that light, I think there are serious dangers in feeding into the fascists’ own agenda by appearing to run over civil liberties.

    But now to my second point, in which I’d like to put the other side of the coin:

    Many years ago in my home town of Melbourne, Australia, a group of neo-nazis managed for a short while to build a local base of support -mostly amongst troubled youth, unemployed, homeless and generally fringe-dwelling young people. For a while you could find aggressive skinheads hanging around our city square and other key locations most Friday or Saturday evenings. Reports of assaults against asians, gays and others became alarmingly common.

    I was part of a mobilisation to get the Nazis off our streets(even leading to physical confrontations at times). Local police became involved

    Finally a kind of ‘coalition’ formed to kick the neo-nazis out of town. Over the course of several months, a concerted campaign was carried out, including demonstrations, sometimes even physical confrontations.

    The nazis were eventually driven underground and many of the hangers-on who just thought it was cool or tough to hang out with skinheads realised it was just plain bad for their health.

    Intimidating the fascists’ supporters was important because their “muscle” was really a group of apolitical goons who had no real understanding of the issues.

    Here’s the point: only the nazis themselves complained about civil liberties. Of the locals who were becoming afraid to

    I can assure you that none of us gave a second thought to the fascists’ right to free speech; these were dangerous, violent extremists who were trying to gain a foothold in one of the most peacefully multi-cultural cities in the world, and they had to be stopped.

    Nobody I know who participated in that campaign regrets the actions – in fact if anything, it created a greater bond with the ethnic communities the fascists were targetting -because they saw that there were some in the community who were prepared to fight against bigotry.

    food for thought

  35. LTEC Says:

    Canada also has laws against “hate speech”, including holocaust-denial (see here and here).

  36. Joshua Says:

    Lipstadt said it best: for Irving, obscurity, not jail.

    Better still, unceasing scorn and ridicule until the day he dies, if not beyond.

    Come to think of it, since Irving’s Holocaust denial objectively helps Islamic supremacists, does that not also make him a dhimmi?

  37. Loyal Achates Says:

    But I have to ask: why should it be illegal to deny only the holocaust of the Jews, and not of the Gypsies, homosexuals, Communists, and other religious, political, and ethnic minorities? In fact, why stop there. If the gravity of Holocaust comes from the fact that we assume (and I see no reason not to) that 6 million Jews were systematically murdered by the Nazi regime, why is it allowed to deny other holocausts throughout history?

    The Belgians in Africa, the British in India, the Japanese in China, the Turks in Armenia, and the Americans in Vietnam all killed millions of people, not to mention equally horrific incidents in which the people of one nation turned on each other (Rwanda, Cambodia, China, and now Sudan, to name a few). Saying that these events are exaggerated will at worst get you some dirty looks. But you certainly won’t end up in jail.

    People like David Irving might be evil, but we should avoid turning them into symbols. When the government imprisons you for saying something, it tends to lend your statements (true or false) an air of forbidden truth. Refuting holocaust deniers isn’t hard; why put ourselves to so much trouble?

  38. Anonymous Says:

    Jew-hatred has been and still is integral to European culture.
    The Austrians could have arrested Irving 17 years ago, when he made the denial speeches. Police sat in on his talk(s) and took notes. Why not? What was going on in Austria then? Clue: can you say Waldheim?

    Lipstadt said it best: for Irving, obscurity, not jail.

  39. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    An excellent post, Neo.

    I find myself seriously conflicted about this issue, just as you seem to be. I believe strongly in freedom of speech and freedom of the press; I always have. Nonetheless, if the perpetrators of the worst Crime Against Humanity in history choose to take steps to prevent themselves from doing it again, I have a hard time arguing with them about it.

    By the way, Israel does not only prohibit public denial of the Holocaust. Proselytization is also against the law in Israel. (You may be a Christian in Israel, in other words, but not an active missionary.)

    I would argue that the reasoning behind this is similar. Israelis and their forebears, remembering a long, long history of forced conversions under threat of torture and death, chose to make sure that, in one place in the world, they would be safe from such things.

    And I have a difficult time arguing with that, too. This has not been a “slippery slope” in Israel; many Christians continue to live, peacefully and happily, in Israel. The prohibition against proselytization did not stop the Mormons from building a major center of religious study in Jerusalem. And so forth, and so on.

    No doubt there will come a time when denying the Holocaust, in Europe, will not be the equivalent of shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater. I look forward eagerly to that time. But we’re not there yet, not by a long shot.

    respectfully,
    Daniel in Brookline

  40. Knucklehead Says:

    Someone commenting above picked up on the comment by the German Professor (Funke) who testified in the Lipstadt trial…

    “In Germany and in Austria there is a moral obligation to fight the kind of propaganda peddled by Irving. We can’t afford the luxury of the Anglo-Saxon freedom of speech argument in this regard,” he says.

    “It’s not that I don’t understand it, it’s just not for us. Not yet. Not for a long time.”

    There are a number of things that bother me about that comment. I don’t know who Funke is or what he believes. My german is way too bad to even begin sifting through what is available on the web.

    But since he is making a comparison about the Anglo legal system vs. the continental one, does this imply that Prof. Funke believes that the anglo system is unconcerned with such moral duties as fighting against the likes of Irving? And is there any evidence that Germans in general find it a moral obligation to fight against the Islamofascists who make the likes of Irving sound like a purring kitten?

  41. ExPreacherMan Says:

    Interesting post, Neo…

    Notice the lead in the AP article. It starts out “Right-wing British historian David Irving.”

    In reading the article, we see AP links “Right Wing” with “anti-Semitic and racist.” Not that this is anything new, but does this disturb anyone?

    Then we see other nations passing their laws as they see fit. That is their business but we should not emulate them or allow the Supremes to look to foreign law to eviscerate our constitution. Our laws should be our own.

    “Hate Speech” laws should never be condoned in our free American Republic simply because we disagree with a person’s distasteful or rabid pronouncement.

    Likewise, as a side issue, I could never understand why a “Hate Crime” is any worse that a “Crime.” But such is the product of the liberal mind and is a law which, because of rampant PCness, will never be corrected.

    ExP

  42. Knucklehead Says:

    If you do, then are you denying the connections between the Mufti’s mentoring of Saddam and all the other Arab jihadists we see today? Mufti got his inspiration, along with the Baath party, from Hitler.

    The Mufti was just putting a modern veneer on the thousand+ year old nonsense. Just an attempt to keep the ancient hatreds alive and well with the newer generation. He admired, and used, the work of the Nazis because 1) it suited his already present hatreds and 2) it had the air of modernity about it that the new loons required.

    Arab/Moslem leadership is apparently always looking for somebody to hate enough to go kill. Bloody borders. If it isn’t the Jews who need killing its the Hindus, or the Buddhists or whatever infidel is closest at hand. The Mufti was no different than their leadership has always been.

  43. Knucklehead Says:

    Probligo,

    Charlatans such as Irving are not restricted to the field of historic studies, nor is their dishonesty limited to denial of the attempted extermination of the Jews in Germany.

    They rise to positions of prominence and power in many fields; science (who remembers cold fusion?),

    That is, of course, a very good observation. Cold fusion may be a bad choice of example though. I don’t think anyone has ever demonstrated that those two guys who created that last stir a while back were behaving as charlatans or denying anything. In fact the very odd thing about cold fusion is that the results have been reproduced but nobody can seem to figure out how to reproduce them in any reliable fashion or why it seems to work one time but not others. It remains a mystery worth exploring.

    The very BIG problem is that so many people can not see these charlatans, liars and cheats for what they really are.

    This hits the nail right between the eyes. The problem really isn’t the Irvings of the world but the idiots who believe them. Nobody should even have to counter the arguments of these dolts. The history of the holocaust isn’t the mystery of Atlantis. It happened, it is documented. There should be no crowds or conferences eager to hear what Irving has to say. He should be walking around talking to nobody but himself.

    Gringoman,

    Oh, really? So Arabs had to learn to hate like this from gentiles?

    I don’t think that is the argument anyone was making. The Islamists have not developed their philosophical thinking for centuries. Whenever they need to update their nonsense they have to reach out and borrow western nonsense. The “gentiles”, the nazis and the modern Left, didn’t teach them hate – they’ve had that in abundance since the beginning. What the likes of the Nazis (and the likes of Irving) have given them is the occasional refresh on their rhetoric.

  44. Ymarsakar Says:

    P.S.

    If it weren’t for the threat of force, the only people with free speech here in America would be the Democrats and the terroists.

    Link leading to an interview with a Marine that was called unAmerican

    Once these people have the guns and the determination, it’s all over for free speech. Europe needs to stop emulating stupidity and start emulating American traditions. But of course, that would be a social faux paw.

    Europe can in fact arrest as many people as they want, but since they won’t, the terroists are gaining support, converts, and weapons.

    Europe will not exterminate the terroists, and without that order, there is no free speech in the culture of intimidation.

    Just as there would be no liberty in the South once federal troops were removed, and blacks were left with the cut and run administration.

  45. Ymarsakar Says:

    The historical experience of these nations under Nazism doesn’t matter. Because their Hate Speech laws are not used solely to prosecute Nazis or whomever might incite Nazism, as the Patriot Act only prosecutes terroists, their laws in fact are used by the Muslims to destroy free speech.

    I don’t care about a nation’s prior experiences, it is what is going on now that matters in the formulation of policy.

    You can’t fight using moral obligations by using police powers, against ideas. It never works in the long term.

    The reason why they can’t afford our freedom of speech is because Americans come armed with tooth, nails, teeth, blades, and guns. Contrary to European perceptions, what is prized in AMerica isn’t free speech, it is self-protection through the 2nd Ammendment. The 1st Ammendment is more popular and popularized, but that is and has never been the backbone of American history and excellence.

    And therefore people should not be confused about comments that enshire American freedom of speech against European standards. Because I don’t do the comparison on a tunnel vision basis, but on a broad spectrum analysis.

    It is not and has never been a luxury. Free speech is protected by the blood of patriots and by the weapons of killers.

    Europe, whose free speech never was protected by an armed citizenry, may view things differently. And they do.

    Countries that know, through bitter and personal experience, the dangers to which anti-Semitism led a mere sixty years ago do consider it (and other hate speech) to be the equivalent of yelling “Fire!” in that proverbial crowded theater.

    If that is the argument, then the counter-argument is easy. Riots in France, suicide bombs in Britain, assassinations of politicians and film makers, intimidation through rape and violence of native citizens, and political threats of violence against nations are the counter-argument.

    Don’t fix what ain’t broken, but if something obviously ain’t working, then it should be replaced. They’re not protecting their people from Nazis with their hate speech, and Jihad Arabs are the descendents of Nazism.

    I would tend to believe that the Jewish-Palestine conflict was Nazism’s legacy to the world. Not Holocaust denial. In terms of prioritiy, current and future victims always trumps concerns over past victims.

    The Anglosphere has plenty of experience with KKK terroist tactics, lynchings, infiltration, and betrayals. The US, at least, put a stop to that with the federal army. We have a stronger tradition of free speech because we are willing and capable of killing anyone that tries to take it away from us, whether that is the KKK retards burning blacks so that they can vote in a Democratic government for their state or killing Al-Qaeda in Iraq to give freedom a chance.

    Freedom of speech was never based upon luck here in the United States, but on the blood and the vigilance of patriots. Europe, lacking such things, don’t have freedom of speech in as great proportions, obviously.

    Europe may be sensitive to such things, but their sensitivity is now known as asthma and allergies. Where the immune system has now overreacted, and is harming the host body more than the enemy. And they aren’t even killing the terroists, cause they have no death penalty. Not even with a 25 year attachement.

    3 year isn’t coming down hard on anyone, btw. That Vermont judge gave that rapist 3 years if I recall correctly, and I wouldn’t say that that judge was coming down hard on rapists. To which, supposedly, the Euros have these hate speech laws to prevent, rape, killings, and extermination. If they truly believe that such hate speech actually increases the return of Nazism or what not, then the sentence would have been a mandatory 20 years at least.

    There is a big inconsistency between the theory and the application here. And this smells like a broken and useless system to me.

    These European nations and Israel are still being burned. And has their hate speech laws helped to fight off the new Nazis? I don’t think so.

    The fact that Austria let him go obviously shows that they aren’t serious about the crime really being a crime so to speak. I don’t tend to take things seriously when the originators of the idea don’t even take it seriously.

    The fact is, however, that Irving and his ilk have become dangerous.

    You would think that they shouldhave already noticed this a year earlier.

    The logistics do not favor Austria or Europe. They don’t have enough resources to take advantage of this bridge called “hate crimes law”, so they should burn it so that the Muslims can’t use it.

    If Irving is dangerous, then you need a counter-propaganda counter-offensive. Arresting him is neither brutal nor decisive, nor cruel enough to have any worthwhile psychological impact. And there is no counter-propaganda with him arrested. 3 years is not something you give to a propagandist in a War on Terror, if you were ever serious about arresting anyone in the first place. Unserious people produce unserious law like the Kelo act.

    I don’t really believe that the truth will triumph in the end. I believe that if you have enough power and the willingness to use that power, that the truth of your power will eventually come out.

    So Arabs had to learn to hate like this from gentiles? The muslims, faithful to “the religion of peace,” had little or nothing to do with it, and needed European tutelage?

    Don’t you know the specifics in the history? If you do, then are you denying the connections between the Mufti’s mentoring of Saddam and all the other Arab jihadists we see today? Mufti got his inspiration, along with the Baath party, from Hitler. And Hitler was European.

    Islam didn’t know jack from propaganda, they were always best at the sword and not religious debates. It takes master propagandists to create the elegant Catch 22 that is known as the Zionist Conspiracy and Palestine. The collusion between the Soviet Empire and Nazi propaganda, has again created the circumstances for a whole new world war, this time in the Middle East. Soviet police and army tactics, along with Nazi ideology and propaganda. The perfect war, as it was once before.

  46. gringoman Says:

    The European input has always been important to the development of anti-Semitism in the Middle East. The widespread Arab hatred of Jews does not derive from the Koran: it stems from the need of national liberation movements for hate figures……..

    Oh, really? So Arabs had to learn to hate like this from gentiles? The muslims, faithful to “the religion of peace,” had little or nothing to do with it, and needed European tutelage? Unfortunately for this quaint belief, there’s an historical record. One example:

    While Muhammad had hoped that the Jews of Medina, as monotheists with a scripture,would recognize his prophetic claims, most of them opposed him with ridicule and rebellion….In the ensuing struggle, most of the Jews were killed or banished. The direction of prayer for the muslims was changed from Jerusalem to Mecca….

    from ISLAM, The Founding of the Community, edited by John Alden Williams.

  47. The probligo Says:

    I left an extensive comment on one of your earlier pieces on this topic. I won’t rehash here.

    There was an interesting comment made here in the past 24 hours to the effect that there was a direct correlation between anti-denial legislation and law that “prevents” inciting racial hatred and violence.

    There was a considerable amount of regret that Irving was NOT allowed into NZ some four years back. The regret was that it prevented the implementation of some fairly rough, and illegal, justice.

    But let’s be truthful about this.

    Charlatans such as Irving are not restricted to the field of historic studies, nor is their dishonesty limited to denial of the attempted extermination of the Jews in Germany.

    They rise to positions of prominence and power in many fields; science (who remembers cold fusion?), politics (start with Milosevic and Saddam, but don’t stop there…), religion (Hubbard and Moon if you like, or Falwell and Robertson), business (how about start with Enron?).

    The very BIG problem is that so many people can not see these charlatans, liars and cheats for what they really are. After listening to Bethany McLean last night previewing her documentary (Smartest Guys in the ROom) I think I am getting a glimmer of how it can happen.

  48. Alexandra Says:

    All Things Beautiful TrackBack We Have A Right To Be Wrong”

  49. Knucklehead Says:

    I don’t find the various arguments for criminalizing holocaust denial particularly persuasive.

    I’ll start by admitting that trying to get a full understanding of the fundamental differences between the continental “civil law” system (based upon Roman & Napoleanic law) vs. the Anglo “common law” system gives me a headache.

    Some would define the difference as “civil law” defines what is allowed and “common law” defines what is forbidden. I find that wholly unsatisfactory. The closest I’ve yet come to gaining some overall insight into the difference is that common law systems, essentially, go about protecting society by protecting the individual whereas civil law goes about protecting the individual by protecting society. Or, to try and put it another way, the best road to happiness and wellbeing as a society is for individual citizens to be happy vs. the best road to happiness and wellbeing for individuals is for society to be happy.

    Civil law structures are communitarian whereas common law structures are individualistic.

    If anyone who participates in this thread can enlighten me short of asking me to read some thousand page legal hitory tome I’d appreciate it.

    But back to the matter at hand.

    Regardless of legal system in effect in particular countries the holocaust is a well documented historical fact. Legitimate historians and students of history may be able to quibble about how many millions were slaughtered but the fact of the slaughter is beyond doubt. Which brings me to the one of the arguments I find unconvincing. The countries where the holocaust actually happened should be, in fact, the very places where denial of it is most obviously absurd. There should be no takers for denial nonsense on the very ground where the historical fact took place.

    To tie this back to legal systems, however, and how I can’t see how they really matter to this issue, consider the historical fact of slavery for a moment. There is no doubt that slavery is a historical fact of human existence and reached an industrial scale through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Undoubtedly there are people who would “deny” the historical fact of industrialized slavery in various ways. There is no need to criminalize such denial. Slavery existed in the history of the US, the Americas in general, and several European countries were complicit in making it a huge industry.

    And, in fact, social systems we can easily recognize as slave systems of various sorts existed throughout areas of both common and civil law. How, for example, does serfdom or feudalism fundamentally differ from slavery if one is the serf or the peasant. In reality it hardly mattered to the human whether they belonged to the human slave owner or to the land owned by lord. Yet nobody seems to have identified a need to criminalize “slavery denial”.

    There should be no need to criminalize words that all but the most ignorant bigots know to be untrue.

    There is a lot here to explore but I find the idea of throwing the likes of Irving in jail for being an idiot who sells books to idiots to be silly. Of course I wouldn’t lift a finger to help the idiot.

    First they came for the holocaust denying bigots but I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t a holocaust denying bigot.

    Then they came for the terrorist scum and I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t a terrorist scum.

    Then they came for the people who incited the bigots and terrorist scum but I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t inciting bigots and terrorist scum.

    It is an interesting news item but I just can’t marshal much sympathy for Irving.

  50. Motor 1560 Says:

    Great post on this issue, Neo. You always have such a good analytic framework to your arguments that; even when I see where you a are going with a post; I am obliged to read it all, in detail, to tick out the “agree/don’t agree/ not sure” boxes and then reflect on the points.

    Good point on Irving’s ignoring of the warrant, which is the equivalent of the diplomatic persona non grata order. On that basis and the further elucidation of the situation, I am finding that I have no problem with his arrest and imprisonment. It is not as if he did not have constructive notice of the consequences of his action.

  51. Anonymous Says:

    Unfortunately, the evidence remains strong that the criminalization of Nazi imagery has made it harder to put an end to institutionalized anti-semitism in Europe, not easier. Holocaust deniers like Irving revel in their persecution, and attract many of those who are too young to remember the horrors Hitler unleashed. These foolish children come to believe that the crazy old farts who persecute Holocaust deniers are the real danger, not the neo-Nazis that never hurt anybody in their lifetimes.

    The greatest hazard of our time, is that technological advancements really do make it easier to build personality cults among those too young to know where the beautiful illusions their dear leaders weave will actually lead them. We are expecting too much of our children, and it is destroying them.

  52. Jack Okie Says:

    Caught your link over at Roger’s -

    I have been trying to work through the various factors of this issue for the past several days. Your analysis really nails it.

    Great post.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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