Not too long ago, David Irving was sentenced to three years in an Austrian jail for claiming that the Holocaust never happened. Although I am usually in favor of harsh sentences even for those people who insist on honking their car horns while driving through tunnels, I was against throwing Irving’s butt in the slammer.
For some time now, the shmoe has made his living by writing and speaking on the subject. One of his goonier notions is that the concentration camps were erected after the end of World War II to serve as tourist attractions. Irving isn’t the only person in the world who insists that the Holocaust was a scheme promoted by Jews in order to extort reparations from the Germans, but I do believe he is the only blowhard I’ve ever heard suggest that it was Poland’s plan to build a theme park and call it Auschwitz.
The reason I was sorry to see Irving sent off to jail is because I think people should have the right to make stupid, even offensive remarks. Otherwise, to be consistent, I would want to see Harry Belafonte prosecuted for embracing Hugo Chavez, and telling the Venezuelan crowds that George W. Bush is the worst villain in the world and that America is a terrorist state.
The oddest thing about Holocaust deniers is that, down deep, people like Irving and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad only wish that Hitler had finished what he started. I guess you could say that the main difference between an anti-Semitic optimist and an anti-Semitic pessimist is whether he views six million dead Jews as a job half-fulfilled or half-unfulfilled.
One of the things I object to about Holocaust deniers is the term itself. It sounds rather impressive, even distinguished. It sort of lends intellectual legitimacy to a bunch of lunatics. It would be like describing people who believe the world is flat as level headed eartharians or referring to those who are convinced the moon is made of cheese as edamologists.
It also annoys me when seemingly rational people engage these bigoted pinheads in debates on college campuses. Once again, it lends credence to their contention that the Nazis didn’t exterminate millions of European Jews. It simply makes no sense to stage a debate with some booby who insists that a ton of photographs, Nazi crematoriums, eyewitness testimony and Elie Wiesel’s books, are all part of a gigantic Zionist conspiracy. You might as well hire a hall in order to argue with some yutz who insists that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. All you’re really doing is suggesting that there are two sides to the question, and that reasonable people can agree to disagree.
The way I see it, if somebody tells you he’s Napoleon Bonaparte, clearly he’s insane. However, if you insist in arguing with him, it only goes to prove that you’re crazy, too.