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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Free Speech, Hate And Jews

The DIC (David Irving Circus) is full swing.

The blogosphere and MSM are on the same track, blustering on about free speech and the grave consequences and possible implications of the David Irving conviction and three year prison sentence.

Opinions have been, for the most part, disingenuous- and more disturbingly, those opinions have clearly reflected the shallowness of much of the blogosphere and MSM.

As we noted in David Irving, The Holocaust And The Cartoons,

No country that has laws relating to Holocaust denial, has any laws on the books outlawing any form of religious hatred, no matter how vile or repulsive. No one is precluded from believing whatever it is they wish. There is no fear of punishment for one's beliefs, however outside the mainstream...

David Irving, the professor emeritus of Holocaust denial, wasn't sentenced to three years because he is a professed anti Semite. He wasn't sentenced to three years in prison because he is the patron saint of neo Nazis the world over and he is not being punished for writing about conspiracies and idiotic ideas.
David Irving was sentenced to three years in prison for yelling 'FIRE!' in a crowded theater. He was sentenced for denying a truth that cost millions of innocent lives, now forgotten and unacknowledged. He was sentenced to prison because his denial of the truth and horror of that time is a kind of equivalent of blaming the rape victim for the assault.

To be clear, the furor over Mr Irving's conviction is troubling.

Why does Holocaust denial merit such intense debate? When Abu Hamza, firebrand cleric of the Finsbury Park Mosque, was convicted of inciting murder and race hate, there was no outcry about his right to free speech. There was no self important posturing and subsequent lectures about the 'rights' of Abu Hamza and the sanctity of free expression.

The knee jerk response to David Irving's conviction, says a lot more about us than it does about him.

We want to make the Holocaust go away, because we were complicit in it.

As we in the west remained silent and ignored the orgy of genocide (ignored and repeated today in Darfur and elsewhere, for example), we hope that somehow, noble ideals about freedom will remove the taint of our inaction during that terrible time. If we convict David Irving, we might have to revisit our own complicity- a painful truth that has yet to be dealt with. By leaving a mantle and cloak of respectability on Irving, we can all say, 'we are better than he.'

That of course, is a lie. Sooner or later, we must face our part in that dark and cold night of history. While it is true we wear the legacy of the Allied Forces as liberators, it is also true that we wear the shame of the German volk. Our nations stood by and did nothing (appeasement of Hitler was not 'our finest hour') before the war, and we did nothing to remove the camps and death factories as they were in 'full production.'

Talking in noble terms about freedom or free expression does not change the reality of our inactions that resulted in the near elimination of a people.

In fact, the Jews survived without our help. They are a testament to the indomitable human spirit. The Nazis had done their killing before the few thousand sorry souls were liberated from the death camps.

The Jews are indeed, the 'canary in the coal mine' of human race- perhaps that is their 'choseness.' How we regard and treat them says more about us than it does about them. Our lives are measured with both sins of comission and sins of omission.

Fausta publishes a post that higlights the sins of omission, as they happen, even today. France2, BBC, Reuters Fail To See Antisemitic Murder For What It Is,is a post about the deliberate, self imposed myopia as Europe reports on what is clearly evident to everyone:

...naked, handcuffed, and bleeding profusely. He was incapable of speaking. His entire body - or "80% of it," according to police - had been butchered. He died of his wounds on the way to the hospital, just a few minutes after he was discovered..
The French attorney general believes Halimi was targeted "because he was Jewish and thus, as a Jew, presumed to be rich." One teenage gang member admitted having put out a cigarette on Halimi's face "because he didn't like Jews."

It seems, however, that the Barbarians' anti-Semitism went much further. Mr. Fofana and other core gang members may have been close to a local mosque. According to one witness, verses from the Koran were recited while Halimi was tortured. The Euro MSM have yet to make the connection. Why? Because the Euro MSM do not want to concede that they have helped create an environment where sacred 'political expression' and 'free speech' allow for savagery as legitimate forms of political experssion.

In a post, Dr Sanity rightly notes that,

...if we punish everyone who is in denial about truth or reality, the courts would cease to function as instruments of the law providing legal justice, and simply become courts of divine justice. Humans are not gods.

Of course, she is right- and if her remarks were looked at by themselves, the argument is unimpeachable. In fact, we agree with her, in principle. She makes the free market of thoughts and ideas the final arbiter:

Personally, I prefer to let reality be the final court for people like Irving and anyone who believes in what he says. As SC&A say, there are consequences to denying the truth--the real world sees to that-- and some of those consequences are far more costly than a short stay in a prison cell.

That said, we do not live in a vacuum. While we may allow for the mechanism of a free market for thoughts and ideas, we live in a world where many do not. In fact, there are those who use free speech and free expression as intruments of war. Free speech and free expression have been the cause of death of tens, if not hundreds of thousands.

Mosque sermons exhort worshippers to murder- and they do. Churches and Shia mosques are set upon by raging crowds and burned to the ground with worshippers inside. Palestinians are regaled daily with stories and lessons about the 'glory of martyrdom,' even as they learn arithmetic. Neo nazis work themselves into a frenzy and march jackbooted, in torchlit parades, yelling, 'Ouslander raus!' and setting upon poor hapless immigrants that happen to be in the street.

If so many are suceptible to the exhortations to violence in other countries, why would we believe that they would not be so easily suceptible to calls to violence here? A look at European capitals bears that truth out.

If a qualified therapist were inclined to believe a patient poses a threat to him or herself, or to the community at large, that therapist is required to report that patient, 'free speech' notwithstanding. If an adult threatens a child either physically, emotionally or sexually and the child recounts that threat to a teacher or doctor, that professional must report the threat to the authorities, even if the threat was just uttered, and not acted upon- free speech notwithstanding.

Shrinkwrapped's On Holocaust Denial And Child Abuse, 'muddies the waters,' to use his own words. He concurs with Dr Sanity in principle- but does not share her sureness.

As for Irving, we do not send adult abusers to jail unless there is proof they actually performed such abuse. On the other hand, we now register sex offenders who are likely to abuse again, and in some cases will extend their prison sentences in order to protect innocents. Would we or should we do the same to those who would facilitate child abuse? I do not know the answer to that question but it seems to me it comes closest to the heart of Holocaust Denial. As many have pointed out, Holocaust denial is being used by those who wish to complete the job the Nazis started. They are using it to justify their genocidal aspirations and facilitate their ongoing efforts to recreate the Nazi program, this time using Nuclear weapons instead of gas chambers.

His post is provocative to say the least, if for no other reason that he forces us out of the mindset of compartmentalization.

In fact, we also punish the bartender who serves one too many drinks, if he believes the intoxicated patron might come to harm another. While Mr Irving may only be 'serving drinks,' he too must be held accountable for the damage done by those intoxicated with his deceit. In the same way that alcohol distorts reality, so does Holocaust denial.

Neo-neocon too, chimes in. She says that applying our standards of free speech to European democracy is at best, a mismatched idea:

Holocaust denial, seen in this light, is a continuation of Nazi thought, and was in fact part of the Nazi plan--and, if allowed to grow and spread, might represent their final triumph. And so (to continue to use the fire metaphor) the who espouse criminalizing it want to snuff it out while it's still a harmless little brush fire. Because they know that brush fires can grow into--well, into Holocausts.

The Anglosphere has no direct experience of that, fortunately for us. And it has a stronger tradition of freedom of speech.

Nevertheless, neo concurs with Dr Sanity, albeit for a different reason:

Because the sad truth is that the damage has already been done. The horse is out of the barn, the cat is out of the bag, Humpty Dumpty has fallen off his wall and all the king's horses and all the king's men and all the jailers in Austria will not undo the influence of the European anti-Semitism that has been tainting the Arab world for much of this century.

So it seems to me that the only remedy is free speech in the theater of ideas. We must believe in the ability of truth to ultimately triumph, and in our ability to wage war against those who would preach hate and follow through on it with destruction. If Irving and his ilk have influenced Iran, the damage is long done, and the remedies lie elsewhere--unfortunately.

In the meantime, as we enrobe ourselves in the noble calling of dicussing free speech and free ideals, once more, it is the Jews that are on the front lines, absorbing the vicious hate that is thrown at them.

It's nice to be able to discuss freedom in our salons, isn't it?