I can’t find the quote right now, but I remember reading (I believe it was in Primo Levi’s fine and highly recommended Survival in Auschwitz) that one of the ways in which the guards taunted prisoners in the concentration camps–those prisoners who were “lucky” enough to have escaped the ovens, at least for a little while–was by saying to them that they would never live to tell their tale, and that the world would never know or care what they had suffered. What’s more, the guards said, if by some slim chance some of them did somehow survive and report to the world what had happened, the world would never believe them. And in fact the Nazis worked hard to cover their traces, in hopes that the evidence would remain hidden.
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.
Read the whole thing.