Roger L. Simon

"Fairness" at C-SPAN

I am a great C-SPAN admirer and supporter of free speech, but the network’s BOOKS division’s choice of notorious Holocaust denier David Irving as a “counter-balance” to Deborah Lipstadt, who was appearing in conjunction with her new book “History on Trial,” is on the edge of mind-boggling. Okay, it is mind-boggling, because Irving, as the WaPo’s Richard Cohen pointed out the other day, has already been proven a liar in a court of law – specifically about Ms. Lipstadt (among many other things):

To Lipstadt’s statements about the Holocaust, there was Irving’s rebuttal that it never happened — no systematic killing of Jews, no Final Solution and, while many people died at Auschwitz of disease and the occasional act of brutality, there were no gas chambers there. “More women died on the back seat of Edward Kennedy’s car at Chappaquiddick than ever died in a gas chamber at Auschwitz,” Irving once said.

For obvious reasons, Lipstadt cited Irving in her 1993 book, “Denying the Holocaust,” which was also published in Britain. Irving sued her for libel. Under Britain’s libel laws, Lipstadt had to prove the truth of what she wrote, which, after a lengthy trial, she did in spades. Her lawyer’s opening statement — “My Lord, Mr. Irving calls himself a historian. The truth is, however, that he is not a historian at all, but a falsifier of history. To put it bluntly, he is a liar.” — ultimately became the judgment of the court itself. In matters of intellectual integrity, Irving is an underachiever.

It seems that C-SPAN has lying confused with opinion. How pathetic and shameful. This is no joke, like having a flying saucers looney talk about a body snatchers invasion of Earth. Millions died in the Holocaust and it has been documented many times over. Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany – and for good reason. Apparently, Ms. Lipstadt has refused to go on the show with the psychotic Irving. I don’t blame her. She already had to appear with him in a British court of law. Irving doesn’t deserve a retrial, though C-SPAN seems to want to give him one. (ht: Catherine)

UPDATE: Friday’s NYT is covering a protest of C-SPAN’s invitation to Irving by professional historians. The David S. Wyman Institute of Holocaust Stuides has more.