Monday, July 2, 2007

Should deniers' books be removed from libraries?

I received the following email today. The subject line read Irving's books:
I would very much value your opinion on whether one should formally seek to have one's regional and local libraries remove all of the above books from their shelves. On the one hand and certainly on a personal level I would like to see them purged along with Irving. On the other hand should they be available for educated readers to see for themselves how history... has been the subject of misrepresentation and fraud.

Of course there will always be those who because of ignorance will read his Dresden account and not be aware of its falsity and reliance on Nazi misinformation....Best regards, Mitchell S. Toms River, N.J.
I told him that I am, in principle, opposed to removing books from libraries. I don't believe in censorship.

Furthermore, I think that is a slippery slope that can lead to all sorts of worthy books being removed from libraries, e.g. Diary of Anne Frank. A good solution would be to place denial books such as Butz’s Hoax of the 20th Century and some of Irving’s books placed in a section called Holocaust Fallacies and Falsehoods.

The Library of Congress actually does that with a category Holocaust, Jewish 1939-1945—errors, inventions, etc. John Drobnicki, a university librarian, has written a thoughtful article on the question of whether libraries should have this material in their collections.

Bottom line is that I am against censorship. Censorship is what David Irving tried to do to me when he sued me for libel. Remember he offered to settle with me if I agreed to shred my books.


anuahs said...

I did a presentation on this after the Patriot Act fell into place. Censorship is nauseating.

The Adjunct Professor said...

You put this very well and I enjoyed reading what you had to say. I think people often forget what largely led to the Nazis being able to carry out such atrocities (and I realize there are a number of things that can be said and books that can and have been written on the topic) was not freedom of speech but rather taking that freedom away.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

I agree with you on not having library censorship. There wouldn't be many books left in the library at the end of it all.

admin w i said...

as history is bound to repeat itself, it would be stupid not to keep the books as a reminder of what lies like that can create. The books should however be categorized as you said, labeled according to the falsehood of the containing facts.

Irene Grumman said...

The books should be kept and categorized as suggested. Censorship has worse results than tedious arguments with misled people.

When I was young, I knew people who had lost their entire extended families to the Holocaust. All my life, I have met people who still have the camp tattoos. I was deeply disappointed when I learned that this was no outlandish aberration, but a continuation of a shameful, entrenched European history.

I do understand that no one is obliged to accept my anecdotal certainty. Your work is so important.

Matthew said...

I think you should leave them categorized the way they are now-- all in the Holocaust section.

While their theory is not the mainstream historical interpretation, it does, it appears, have a fairly large following (I am not among them), thus, in my view, it should be given equal treatment with other, more grounded in factual evidence, interpretations.

To do so otherwise would be playing favorites and sponsoring an "official" history, would it not?