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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Friday, January 20, 2006

Being a martyr

Holocaust denier David Irving - still banned from entering Australia - is soon to face trial in Austria over statements that denied the existence of gas chambers in Auschwitz. Having already lost a trial in 2000 against historian Deborah Lipstadt - he was exposed as a Holocaust denier and supporter of white supremacist ideology - he is again facing the courts for his outlandish views. (Interestingly, Lipstadt is calling for his release.)

His current trial is likely to be yet another episode in the sordid chapter of Irving's life. Loved by neo-Nazis and disliked, though strangely respected, by some historians, Irving is likely to remain a controversial figure. His Austrian lawyer explains his position: "In a free society, it must be possible to be able to say something that is wrong and offensive without being criminally prosecuted."

I agree and this is why I've always opposed both the Labor and Liberal government ban on him entering Australia. His views, while toxic, should not be censored because it merely creates a martyr out of a man who will always appeal to a tiny minority. I understand Jewish concerns over Irving but believe it's much healthier in a robust democracy to allow such people to enter and remain on the fringes, rather than becoming media "stars" and supposed defenders of free speech.


Blogger Shabadoo said...

Amazingly, we're in agreement - I don't think anyone should face legal jeopardy for what are essentially thought crimes.

Would be interested to hear your thoughts on the pastors in VIC who are facing the wrath of the anti-vilifcation statutes...

Friday, January 20, 2006 9:40:00 am  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

My views are pretty similar.
I know many people in Vic who support the anti-vilification laws, and I can actually see the reasons behind them, but it seems to be a little dangerous. Then again, 'victims' of hate speech should have rights, too.

Friday, January 20, 2006 9:47:00 am  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

As someone who's generally libertarian, I find it interesting that so many attempts around the world in liberal democracies to stifle uncomfortable opinions are coming from supposedly tolerant 'progressives'...not just in Victoria, or even on American campuses with their infamous speech codes, but in England, where disapproving of gay marriage can cause a visit from the cops -- look at Iqbal Sacranie!

The question is, what is being a 'victim' about? I think the legal bar needs to be far higher than being made uncomfortable or generally offended, otherwise it's a dictatorship of the hyper-sensitive.

Friday, January 20, 2006 10:01:00 am  
Blogger violet said...

David Irving needs to go and live in Iran with his like-minded souls...oh that's right, Iran will not let anyone in who has an Israeli stamp in their passport.

Friday, January 20, 2006 10:57:00 am  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Actually just thinking about this a bit more I think I'm going to go a bit more nuanced: Austria shouldn't try/jail Irving, but at the same time, we're not under any obligation to let him in, and I'd be perfectly happy if the Australian government said that we as a community find these views repugnant, and please take them somewhere else, thank you.

Friday, January 20, 2006 11:15:00 am  
Blogger Stev said...

Then again if we're going to refuse entry to people on the basis that, as a community, we find their views or beliefs repugnant, there are a few people posting in these comments who would do best to look for another country to live in.

Quite frankly, though, as a country we're so diverse that I think it would be hard to find a view or belief that at least a certain subsection of the community didn't find repugnant.

Friday, January 20, 2006 11:47:00 am  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

Here's to Irving becoming a martyr, Zundel too, in fact all of loewensteins heroes can become martyrs for all I care.

Friday, January 20, 2006 4:14:00 pm  
Blogger orang said...

Ant is trying to get them over here so you can fight them Ib - so you won't have to fight them over there.

Friday, January 20, 2006 6:15:00 pm  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

Doubt it.

Saturday, January 21, 2006 12:12:00 am  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

violet said...
"Iran will not let anyone in who has an Israeli stamp in their passport."

Just curious: is that actually true?

Sunday, January 22, 2006 1:49:00 am  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

You can easily find out.

Sunday, January 22, 2006 5:24:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...


I would not be surprised. A good friend of mine travelled extensively through the ME and told me that he had to visit Jordan before Israel to avoid trouble at immigration.

I am only guessing, but I would expect the opposite to be trueo to some extent.

Sunday, January 22, 2006 5:54:00 am  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

Somehow it seems that most of your beliefs are based on information that you gleened from "only guessing"

Sunday, January 22, 2006 7:43:00 am  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

Ibrahamav said...
"Somehow it seems that most of your beliefs are based on information that you gleened from "only guessing" "

Since you're the expert - in your own mind at least - on absolutely everything, why don't you tell us? You do know, right?

Sunday, January 22, 2006 2:53:00 pm  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

You need something to feed your antisemitic appetite?

Get it somewhere else.

Monday, January 23, 2006 12:41:00 pm  

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