David Irving

14 Mar

The sentencing of David Irving to three years in an Austrian prision for denying the Holocaust have me stumped.  Aside from my obvious interest in the subject becasue of it takes place in Austria, I do not know how to react to this particular situation.  While I think Irving is the worst kind of psudeo-academic, he does have a right to say what he wants.  However, the law against denying the Holocaust exists for a specific reason that is  justified to a certain degree.  So whose side should I take?

Hans Rauscher in Austria's Der Standard writes (via BBC News):

Holocaust deniers like David Irving want to trivialise these inconceivable crimes and make them politically acceptable. That is the decisive point. Whoever wants to render National Socialism harmless wants to revive it as a political option. It's just too much to ask of democracy to tolerate this. And it is deplorable treatment of the victims.

On the other hand, an editorial in Spain's El Mundo explains (via BBC News):

It goes without saying that Irving's harebrained historical theories deserve none of our respect. But perhaps for that very reason, one cannot fail to wonder if, today, there is any point in keeping in force legislation conceived in a very different historical context. Fifty years after the end of Nazism, Holocaust denial – not, of course, incitement to or glorification of genocide – must stop being a crime in Europe. Can it be right that someone should go to prison for saying Auschwitz did not exist, when those who deny the crimes of Stalin or the tortures of the Inquisition go unpunished?

European laws against anti-Semitism have become a nefarious exception which various Islamic intellectuals have recently seized upon as an example of the West's double standards. Far from giving in to demands to establish new restrictions to combat 'Islamophobia', European governments must eliminate this obsolete legislation and reaffirm the West's support for freedom of expression.

Both sides have effective arguments, and I still don't know which side I'm on.

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