For example, Irving’s suggestion that Hitler did not order and may not have fully known about the Holocaust is literally laughable. Just mentioning this one oddity of his repertoire – based on the lack of any known written order from Hitler, who obviously did it verbally – should be enough by itself to discredit him among many people. Kick out this one flimsy prop and the whole rotten structure collapses.
I am no expert, but I could have refuted much of what he said, in a way that would have made it clear to the audience that he was not being candid with them. In fact, I tried, successfully I hope, to do so by asking a detailed, three part question at the end which disputed the veracity of some of his statements – a pebble of truth tossed into a sea of distortions.
I hate to think of all the people who come to hear him and go away with so much misinformation left unquestioned. I understand the position taken by Jewish organizations and leaders that debating or appearing with Holocaust deniers lends them respectability and helps spread their views. But since so much of what they, and Irving, say can easily be refuted, perhaps some selective exceptions to this position should occasionally be considered, such as appearing separately on C-SPAN.
I think it is important that legitimate Holocaust historians find some appropriate way to publicly and effectively counter Irving and set the record straight. But this cannot be done if the true experts pass up opportunities to go on camera, tell the truth, and discredit the misinformation that is now being fed to audiences all over America and is going largely unchallenged.
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, writing about “falsehoods and fallacies,” stated that “the remedyis more speech, not enforced silence.”
Lipstadt and her colleagues worked hard to defeat Irving in a London court. I think they could do the same in the court of public opinion.