Thursday, October 20, 2005

Irving touts "brilliance of his failed defense" to atheists

In July of this year, Irving was invited to address a small group of atheists in Alabama. The Southern Poverty Law Center's Fall 2005 Intelligence Report notes:

Strange Bedfellows
Disgraced Holocaust denier hosted by Alabama atheist

David Irving, a writer whose Holocaust denial activities caused a British judge to label him "a right-wing, pro-Nazi polemicist," has been repeatedly hosted by the largest neo-Nazi group in America. David Duke, the famous former Klan leader, has organized talks and book sales for him. Others who've tried to help Irving sell his wares — the judge called them "deliberate" falsifications designed to slander Jews and hold Hitler up as a hero — include a host of other white supremacists.

And then there is Larry Darby.

Darby is not your typical host for Holocaust deniers. He is president of the Alabama-based, nonprofit Atheist Law Center. The bespectacled Darby is normally a lonely voice in supremely conservative Alabama, arguing against religion in all forms.

But in early July, Darby hosted Irving — who he described as "an expert on World War Two, the Nazi era and the erosion ... of free speech" — and about a dozen atheists at a meeting in the Holiday Inn of Prattville, Ala. Most of those who attended seemed to know little about Irving's background. Others, who heard about the appearance by e-mail, expressed their shock privately.


For his part, Irving told those who assembled in Prattville of the case that ruined his career as a purported historian. Irving had sued Deborah Lipstadt, a well-known Holocaust scholar who had accused him of pro-Nazi sympathies and false reporting in his books. At the conclusion of a hugely publicized libel trial in London, the court found that Lipstadt was justified in her published criticisms.

In Prattville, Irving emphasized the brilliance of his failed defense, and complained about how he'd been ordered to pay some $5 million in court costs for Lipstadt and her publisher, Penguin Books. Darby — whose ad for the Irving event said that Lipstadt's defense was funded "by the usual enemies of Free Speech" (Jewish groups helped pay for the defense) — listened without comment.


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