‘Not fit to have stood in her shadow’

Few weeks back I reviewed Richard Wilson’s Don’t Get Fooled Again, a kind of sceptic’s primer that deals with bullshit artists high and low.

A recent documentary on freedom of expression prompted Richard to consider this:

It’s becoming something of a modern media tradition that whenever freedom of expression is discussed on TV, the pseudo-historian David Irving needs to be wheeled out to talk about the trials he has faced over his denial of the holocaust.

Richard then poses the question: is David Irving a free speech defender?

He concludes, unsurprisingly, that Irving is not a free speech defender because he tried to use the courts to silence an academic who exposed his junk history. However, the fact that Irving went to jail for holocaust denial has had the effect of casting him as a symbol of free speech in practice – we don’t like his opinions but we must defend his right to express them. This is misguided because Irving couldn’t give a flying one about freedom of speech, apart from his own.

That’s Richard’s piece – reasonable and uncontroversial. He’s not cynical enough to mention the strong plausibility that Irving travelled to a country that had an outstanding warrant for his arrest in order to get loads of publicity for his incarceration, do a couple of years easy time in a European prison and sell a few more of his shitty self-published books. This is real cynic thinking, but the denial debunker Andrew E. Mathis agrees with me:

I’m going to preface these remarks by saying, once again, that I don’t believe in laws criminalizing Holocaust denial. That being said, I am becoming increasingly convinced that prominent Holocaust deniers are getting themselves arrested to gain attention from the public and the media.

He goes on to say that: ‘[M]ake no mistake: These men are not Rosa Parks. They’re not fit to have stood in her shadow.’ It’s this point that the documentary makers seem not to understand.

Richard Wilson seems like a gentle fellow who didn’t know what he let himself in for when he wrote about Irving. For the old bullshit artist seems to have made Richard the subject of one of his ‘Action Reports’ – and as a result Richard’s comments are filled with absolute fascist scumbags.

Read the thread if your stomach can take it – there’s talk of the ‘holohoax’, the ‘holocaust industry’, moral equivalence between Allied and Nazi powers, talk of Jewish/Zionist conspiracies, and the usual discredited bollocks.

Here’s a typical ‘criticism’ of Richard’s article.

hahaha….the comments section of this article just goes to show how many people can see through the lies of the Jewish invented holohoax. That’s why our traitors in Parliament are now funding yearly ‘guilt trips’ with taxpayers money to keep the lie alive in the next generation. That’s why we have a few more holohoax movies hitting the screens this year. How much are ‘those nice folks’ paying you to write this crap?

But there’s also a patient voice of sanity in the thread:

So much for free speech! Mr. Wilson dared to criticize David Irving, idol of the Really Wacky Right, so has received a string of nasty messages from his followers. (which HE prints). From listening to Irving’s speech here in Eugene sponsored by the local anti-Semitic ‘Pacifica Forum’ , I learned he is not at all the ‘holocaust denier’ he is portrayed in the media. Instead, he made clear he is a ‘holocaust sympathizer’. He smirked like a devil when he declared that the real horror of the holocaust, ‘The Great Jewish Tragedy’, as he called it, was not that masses of Jews were killed, but rather that they never understand why people hate them so and wanted to kill them.

Having lived through WII, been a soldier in Germany a few years after the war, married a German woman, and studied that era for years, I understand that the Nazis killed Jews for the same reason they killed Poles, Gypsies, socialists, gays, the disabled, etc. , because they themselves were evil. Irving, like all bullies is a coward– he won’t allow opposition in his meetings– I waved my arm in his ‘question’ period and he was afraid to call on me.

There are two basic lessons we can draw from this.

1) Just about any fraud, racist or madman can be taken seriously as long as they portray themselves as someone ‘speaking truth to power’.

2) Holocaust denial will grow more, not less, acceptable as time goes on and the survivors die.

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5 Responses to “‘Not fit to have stood in her shadow’”

  1. Andrew E. Mathis Says:

    Thanks for the acknowledgment. Good piece.

    a.m.

  2. Richard Wilson Says:

    I’m starting to think that I may have touched a raw nerve with that article – I never knew that neo-fascists could be so prickly!

    Personally I think that the attitude to take to those sorts of comments is to see them less as expressions of real-world opinions than as rather beautiful examples of surrealist poetry.

    Hardcore adherents of Holocaust Denial operate in an essentially fictional mental space, where people like me and you are in the pay of the all-powerful internationalist cabal of swindlers who secretly control the world, where David Irving is the world’s greatest living historian, and the Holocaust is on the point of being revealed for all to see as the hoax that they know it to be. I think it’s questionable whether the opinions of someone who inhabits such a fictionalised reality can actually succeed in referring to anything in the real world to any meaningful extent. Taking hostility from Irving’s followers seems a little bit like being harangued on the tube by a crazy lady who’s soundly convinced that you’re the one who’s been sending messages into her brain via her television and won’t leave you alone until you agree to stop doing it…

    Besides, the name-calling from Irving’s crew is positively mild compared to the searing outrage provoked a little while back by this article: http://www.newstatesman.com/ideas/2008/09/evidence-sceptic-hiv-bogus

    I tried to do a mix-and-match of these two themes here: http://richardwilsonauthor.wordpress.com/2008/12/16/the-parallels-between-aids-denial-and-holocaust-negationism/, but unfortunately the response hasn’t been anything like as colourful… I guess even denialists need to take a rest from time to time…

  3. maxdunbar Says:

    Good points. But like I say, this kind of denialism will become more respectable and mainstream as time goes on and it won’t be enough just to state that deniers are out of touch with reality – even though it’s true.

  4. Richard Wilson Says:

    Possibly – but one good thing about the kind of openly rabid hyperbole on display from Irving’s online followers, in my view, is that it only really helps to make the point against him (that and his habit of selling Hitler memorabilia on his website)!

  5. Andrew E. Mathis Says:

    Gotta say Richard hits the nail on the head with these people. They should be issued colanders for their heads.

    a.m.

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