Saturday, January 21, 2006

American Specator article comes to some very wrong conclusions

A recent article, "Drawing the Line," by Christopher Orlet in the American Spectator concludes that because I have called for Irving's release I am therefore a "Leftist." Regarding my comment "Let [David Irving] go and and let him fade from everyone's radar screens," the author says "Yes, but isn't that what many people said about a certain Austrian 70 years ago?"

Orlet seems to have forgotten -- or ignored because it was convenient to do so -- the fact that, when a lot of people were counseling me to ignore Irving, I answered his libel charge and fought him.

He also makes a point of identifying me as a Jew. What, may I ask, is the relevance of that?

Orlet links me with Noam Chomsky. Had he paid attention to my book Denying the Holocaust he would know that I spent quite a bit of space in the book attacking Chomsky for his active support of deniers in the name of free speech.

I have written the following letter to the editor regarding this piece.

To the Editor of the American Spectator:

I note that Mr. Orlet has decided that I am a Leftist [though, to quote Larry David/ Jerry Seinfeld, "there's nothing wrong with that"] because I have said that Austria should not keep Irving in jail.

The noise I hear right now is many of my friends laughing hysterically at his rather absurd conclusion.

But first my bone fides to comment on this issue: I spent over 6 years defending myself against David Irving and, in the course of so doing, proving that he nothing but a liar, racist, antisemite, and pathetic figure. Had Mr. Orlet bothered to educate himself about the trial [he could start by reading my recent book History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving or Richard Evans' Lying About Hitler], he would see that often during the ten week trial Irving was left looking like the court jester, silly and almost irrelevant.

When the battle was over the press treated him as some sort of has been. That is why I said the Austrian courts should not resurrect him as a so-called martyr for free speech. No one of any stature -- except maybe for John Keegan --- takes him seriously anymore.

In any case, while Orlet has every right to disagree with me -- and there are many people whose opinions I actually value who do think I am wrong about letting him go -- his glib conclusion that I am therefore of one political inclination or another shows his own shallow thinking.

In fact, to some degree his modus operandi reminds me of David Irving's. Irving has a conclusion and bends the facts [or simply invents them] to fit his pre-existing ideas. Orlet seems to have done the same thing. It is hardly a mark of honor.

Deborah E. Lipstadt, Ph.D.

P.S. Orlet groups me with Noam Chomsky. He might take a look at my earlier book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory in which I devote quite a bit of space to an attack on Noam Chomsky for his support of deniers in the name of free speech. I am no fan of Chomsky's about whom, I believe, the best that can be said -- and this is being generous -- is that he is one of God's fools.


Nick said...

I followed your link and read the American Spectator article. "Left" and "leftist" are simply used as terms of abuse.

As for the notion that "Europeans are a bunch of Jew-hating fascists and therefore deserve fewer freedoms than Brits and Americans", we've seen where that line of argument leads before.

Keep telling the truth even if it can be "twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools" like this.

Gary D Chance (London) said...

A very slight "History of Twisting"

These four articles just formed a scenario about what I believe is an escalation of the Holocaust issue which was going to happen anyway as these things do. Fundamentalist ignorance will grasp at anything to incite.

1. I saw this article which I think is magnificent with a photo of your book. Despite the emphasis of the article, I hope that people read "Denying the Holocaust" for the learning experience. See

"Zundel and Irving are two of the world’s most infamous Holocaust deniers. But they have not initiated physical violence against anyone. They have not ordered others to commit violence."

But, they are significantly contributing to violence which is the consequence of their actions for which they must be held accountable as if they had intended such an outcome. People are responsible for the consequence of their behaviour. There is a reason why those laws exist in nine countries

"The Nazis practiced an extreme form of totalitarian control. Today’s enforcement of anti-hate speech laws obviously does not compare to what occurred in Nazi Germany."

But, the fact is that this is exactly what is happening. What is actually occurring today is far "beyond imagination" and anything that the Nazi's dreamed about in terms of totalitarian control. Holocaust denial and hate speech are providing a foundation for this to develop further just as it did in the 1930s. This is why it has to be recognised and treated as unlawful (selon moi).

2. Here are many of the mindless statements which the deniers use that are clearly antisemitic with which I found you dealing expertly in your books. The consequences of such statements are hatred and violence especially in the middle east. I find it very difficult to read this nonsense and now realise just how dangerous it is.

3. This is the magnification of such nonsense with reference to this proposed conference touted to be held in Iran. Herein lies the danger applied.

I would like to think that this controversy will bring out the truth which is so well documented by yourself in your books. You have provided a sound foundation to address these statements when made. I sincerely hope that this truth will expose the fanatics rantings so that the vast middle group of people will recognise the nonsense and purveyors of nonsense for what they are. The problem remains that fundamentally their position does incite others to criminal acts. I can attest to that.

There will always be a lunatic fringe, but the reasonable and rational middle masses need to be reassured by sound analysis and facts that the Holocaust cannot be denied.

4. Here is an example of the misinterpretation which can accrue to your comment made by those who will twist even that to support their "belief" that what this person calls the "HoloHoax" is receding which you are actually
trying to prevent in good faith. It's just ranting. [You noted this on your Blog when it appeared. It is an excellent example of that kind of twisting which will go on regardless. It's an unfortunate consequence of sticking one's head above the parapet.]

BTW I think you have been absolutely correct in not agreeing to debate the fact of the historical existence of the Holocaust. There is no dispute about it. As you have pointed out, the 1948 Austrian law has nothing do to with Holocaust denial. David Irving was arrested for something. Well, I'll just watch the trial and events in Iran to see what develops now that I'm beginning to be well informed thanks to your books.

Existential Journalist said...

I'm inclined to believe that Prof. Deborah Lipstadt and I agree mainly, like two cats in a gutter. We both agree that David Irving is a liar and a creep, and that most of the countries of the former Third Reich are not ready for absolute freedom of expression and therefore Holocaust denial laws (as well as laws banning the swastika, Mein Kampf, and the Nazi salute), should remain on the books, at least for a little while longer. If we depart company it is because Prof. Lipstadt contradicts herself when she maintains the Holocaust laws are necessary, but that the laws should not apply to Irving. If anyone has explaining to do, it is Prof. Lipstadt.

As to why I identified her as Jewish, it should be obvious: a Jewish intellectual calling for the release of a man clearly guilty of the crime of Holocaust denial in Hitler̢۪s fatherland, is a curiosity, to say the least.

Finally, Prof. Lipstadt chastises me for grouping her with Prof. Noam Chomsky, whom she criticizes in her book Denying the Holocaust. But in fact Prof. Lipstadt aligns herself with Chomsky when they both presume the best way to stop another Holocaust is by ignoring the rants of those who would with tongues of fire ignite another such conflagration.

Christopher Orlet

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Orlet seems to forget that, rather than "ignoring" deniers, I wrote a book which was a scathing attack on them and then devoted six years to fighting the leading denier, David Irving. I did so, despite being urged by many peole not to do so.

His comparison of me with Chomsky also falls flat. As Edward Alexander, who has been mistaken for a Leftist, writes in Commentary magazine [hardly a Leftist outlet]

“Although Lipstadt assigns considerable blame to Chomsky for his ‘Voltairean’ defense of the Nazis' right to free speech, she does not follow him down the winding path whereby he has moved deeper and deeper into the revisionist morass, arguing, first, that denial of the Holocaust is no evidence of antiSemitism, and second, in a truly spectacular example of tu quoque, that anyone who says the Jews alone were singled out by Hitler for total annihilation is involved in "pro-Nazi apologetics.”

Deborah Lipstadt said...

A major OOPS.

I should have written that Edward Alexander who has NEVER been mistaken for a Leftist.

My apologies to my former colleague for misidentifying him.