captions added by this website]|
New York, March 23, 2005
Prof Deborah Lipstadt exultant outside the Brtish
High Court in April 2000, surrounded by her lawyers
(far right, the Zionist zealot James Libson): they
spent $10m raised by her backers to defeat Mr
Irving's claim -- most of it on paying "experts" to
give opinions on his works.
in NY Sun:
"Why I said No to C-Span"
C-SPAN's "Book TV" has become a
highly coveted venue for authors. The network,
along with Oprah, has had a huge and positive
impact on literacy in this country, an entire
weekend - 48 consecutive hours - devoted to
discussion of nonfiction books.
The audience is book loving, reading, and, not
to be dismissed, buying audience. I was delighted
when C-span asked to broadcast a speech I was
giving about my new book, "History on Trial: My Day
in Court with David Irving."
The book chronicles how David Irving, a
Holocaust denier, sued
me for libel in a British courtroom for calling him
a denier. Irving had
called the Holocaust a "legend" and had declared
that he removed all mention of the Holocaust from
one of his books, because "if something did not
happen you don't even dignify it with a footnote."
He had counseled his followers that the Holocaust
must be treated with, not just "ridicule," but
tasteless analogies. He instructed them to say
more women died on the back seat of Senator
Kennedy's car at Chappaquiddick than died in the
gas chambers of Auschwitz." His statement was
greeted with laughter and applause. Given this
record, I did not think that describing him as a
denier was controversial.
I was wrong. He brought a libel suit against me
in the United Kingdom demanding that I apologize,
pay damages, and withdraw my book from circulation.
In Britain, the onus is on the defendant to prove
the truth of her words and not on the plaintiff to
prove the falsehood. I could not, therefore, just
walk away from the fight. Had I done so, the court
would have found me guilty and, by so doing,
legitimized his "definition" of the Holocaust.
According to Mr. Irving, there was no German
plan to kill the Jews. There were Jews who were
killed, but as a result of rogue actions, not a
coordinated program administered by the Third
Reich. Moreover, Mr. Irving contends, Hitler was
"the best friend the Jews had in Germany," and
tried to prevent their persecution. One of the main
claims in Mr. Irving's arsenal is that there were
no gas chambers and that the survivors who contend
otherwise are either psychopaths, liars, or in it
for the money. He once asked a survivor how much
money she made from having a number tattooed on her
This legal battle lasted for over six years. The
Royal High Court of Justice dismissed Mr. Irving's
suit and, in a 355-page judgment, declared that in
his writings about the Holocaust, he "perverts,"
"distorts," "mislead[s]," and does so
"deliberate[ly]." His renditions of events
were, the judge noted, a "travesty of the evidence"
and were "reprehensible." Four different appeal
court judges subsequently concurred.
My book was a personal account of the experience
of having to defend the truth of what I wrote. The
opportunity to have an hour to discuss it on C-span
was something I looked forward to, until I learned
that they were intending to juxtapose my talk with
one by Mr. Irving. In essence, they were planning
to create the debate between us, a debate I have
long refused to have. I consider debating Holocaust
deniers to be the equivalent of asking NASA
scientists to debate those who argue that the moon
landing actually happened on a sound stage in
Nevada. There are many things to debate about the
Holocaust, e.g. precisely when did the Nazis decide
to murder European Jewry. Whether it happened is
not one of them.
When I protested to C-span, they insisted that
they broadcast all opinions [Holocaust denial
is an "opinion"?] and that they broadcast liars
all the time, after all, a C-span producer told me,
"they put on members of Congress," - thus equating
the U.S. Congress with bigoted liars. I cannot
imagine them "balancing" an appearance by a
specialist on African-American history with someone
who says slavery was a pleasant experience. Or for
that matter, "balancing" an appearance of a civil
rights leader with a member of the Ku Klux Klan to
discuss theories of black inferiority.
I told the C-span producer that, if they insisted
on broadcasting me back to back with Irving, I
would not allow them to cover my talk at Harvard.
Then I added, almost as an afterthought, that I
assumed that they would not broadcast Mr. Irving.
"No," the producer assured me, "we plan to
broadcast him in any case." I was too flabbergasted
to ask the obvious: "Where's the balance in that?"
I then learned that Mr. Irving had previously
appeared on C-span
[Website note: in a
documentary report on location in BookExpo, New
York, where Mr Irving's Focal Point Publications
had a stand] though no scholar had
been asked to balance his presentations.
I AM puzzled by
Professor Lipstadt's scholarly obsession
with dog-poo in her home streets. This is
the third time she has used this analogy
in the space of seven days. It does have
an ugly ring about it -- rather like the
Nazis' equating of the Jews with rats, in
Goebbels' notorious film Der ewige
dog-poo in depth with her (no doubt,
equally perplexed) attorney Anthony
Julius, as she revealed in an earlier
article in this series. Did she have an
unfortunate childhood experience with
dog-poo? Perhaps a psychiatrist should
and, for that matter, most prejudiced people are
wretched types who are no more important than the
dirt we step in on the street. We must, however,
clean it off our feet before we drag it into our
homes. This time, however, my "adversary" was a
network that many people look to as a source of
calm, clear and, generally, insightful
Four years after my trial in a London court, I
find myself far more disturbed by C-span's moral
blindness than by pathetic characters such as
Professor Lipstadt teaches Modern
Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University
and the author of "History on Trial: My Day in
Court with David Irving" (Ecco, 2005).
Index to the
media scandal surrounding Prof Lipstadt's
attempt to silence C-Span and the history
Steiner chides thes the LA Jewish Journal on
Lipstadt: "I believe the writing of Irving
that I know and have consulted in my work is not
fraudulent. It ... shows not a shred of any
linkage to Nazi sympathies or any kind of