David Irving started well. He could have begun and finished a distinguished career as a British historian with “The Destruction of Dresden,” a groundbreaking book that brought to the attention of the public, for the very first time, the vicious firebombing of that neutral German city during World War II. No less a person than Kurt Vonnegut (a miraculous survivor of the February 13th-15th, 1945 bombing) mentions Irving’s book in “Slaughterhouse Five.” Irving chose instead to become a pariah by embracing that most odious of all conspiracy theories, Holocaust denialism.
Holocaust denial, according to Wikipedia, “is an antisemitic conspiracy theory that asserts that the Nazi genocide of Jews, known as ‘the Holocaust’, is a myth or fabrication.” Irving tries to bring the burnished respectability of scholarship to this disgusting conspiracy theory.
Irving famously sued American historian Deborah Lipstadt for slander for calling him a Holocaust denier. It was a suit that went particularly badly for him, and is deconstructed in Lipstadt’s marvellous book, “History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier.” The book was later made into a movie, “Denial,” starring Rachel Weisz and the incomparable Timothy Spall as Irving.
Holocaust deniers can’t seem to help giving the game away by occasionally (or frequently in the case of Ernst Zündel) letting slip their own virulent antisemitism. Not content to stop at Holocaust denialism, Irving frequently resorts to victim blaming, asking more then once the non-rhetorical question, “Did the Jews bring the Holocaust down on themselves?”
I won’t devote any more print space to his repellent “theories.” I am content to let them defeat themselves. But Irving and his ilk represent the most disgusting trend in the disreputable history of conspiracy theories, and that trend and those theories need to be loudly and repeatedly shouted down with every opportunity presented to us.
All of which brings me to the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas, where a staff meeting was called after the school board voted to reprimand a fourth-grade teacher for having an anti-racism book in her classroom. Not content to merely support the punishment of a teacher for being opposed to racism, school executive director of curriculum and full time cretin Gina Peddy suggested that the students learning about the Nazi Holocaust should also be given access to “opposing” perspectives.
Those opposing perspectives, as she so insouciantly calls them, are nothing less than attempts to undermine, diminish and minimize the most brutal, shameful, disgusting and blatantly inhumane episode in history. There are many examples of innocent human beings being torn from their homes and murdered for the stupid reasons of bigotry and greed, but at no time in human history has it been accomplished on such an industrial scale as it was with the Nazis, with the mute approval of millions of cowards who stood by and let it happen.
That many Nazis were just “following orders” isn’t an explanation, it’s just a well-known excuse. There is little doubt that most of them loved every minute of it. There is nothing but horror to be found in the “final solution,” and I can’t think of a single sane reason to speak of it in the dry, matter-of-fact tones of equivocation. It is the one thing in our past that sometimes makes me ashamed to be a human being.
This is yet another reason why I hate Trump supporters. When you join a movement and then notice that many members of that movement have swastika tattoos and carry swastika flags, you get the hell out of that movement. Most Trump supporters won’t even condemn their neo-Nazi fellow travellers let alone see it as a sign that there’s something tragically wrong with their movement, beginning with and especially the former president.
So to hell with Gina Peddy and the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas. To hell with Donald Trump and to hell with Holocaust denialism. If you’re a Holocaust denier, to hell with you and stay the hell away from me. And, for the rest of you, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.