Posted Tuesday, June 29, 1999

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Tuesday, June 29, 1999

To the Editor:

The headline on your June 26 Arts & Ideas pages article about the writer David Irving asks whether "a Holocaust skeptic" is "fit to be a historian." Who is to say? Unlike law or medicine or architecture, the profession of history-writing has no legally defined qualifications for practice.

What does disqualify Mr. Irving from being taken seriously is his turning to the law of libel in response to his critic Deborah Lipstadt. History is a field of discourse, not a contest of law. I might feel contempt for Mr. Irving's apparent project of writing a sympathetic history of the Nazi era.

But I would not seek to force silence upon him.

Those who claim to be serious historians who believe in free inquiry cannot be considered so if they turn to the power of the state to silence their critics.

Dallas, June 26, 1999

The writer is a professor of history at Southern Methodist University.


Copyright 1999 The New York Times Company

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David Irving replies

Re: My Libel action against Professor Deborah Lipstadt


[...] In England the state and the judiciary are separate powers; I have turned to the latter, and not the former, for relief.

David Irving
81 Duke Street
Grosvenor Square
London W1

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