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David Irving and Nick Griffin at the Oxford Union

From:     blp
Category: Life
Date:     26 November 2007
Time:     05:32 PM


Norman Finkelstein, asked about David Irving some time back, said this: 'Ok, if you ask me what I
think of David Irving... listen, young man, I can give you the politically correct answer and say
"he's terrible, he's this and he's that." Personally, I don't like the fellow. I think he is a Nazi.
However, I have to be fair. And I want you to listen. Fairness means: A) I'm not an authority on the
topic on which he writes. Mostly on military history, [audience noise, talking] on the German side,
during WW2. Number two, [audience noise, talking] historians who are authorities on him have given
mixed ratings. Gordon Craig, one of the leading historians on Germany in the US who writes regularly
for the New York Review of Books, Gordon Craig wrote, "his contributions are indespensible." I can't
change that. I cannot say Gordon Craig is wrong. You know why I can't do it? Because I'm humble
enough to say: I-Don't-Know. John Keagan, one of the leading military historians in the UK, when he
testified in the Irving Lipstad [spelling?] trial, he testified on his side, on Irving's side, as
being a good historian. So I can only report to you what other historians have said. And so in the
book, in the Holocaust Industry, I wrote that Gordon Craig said that his contributions, his meaning
Irving's, are indespensible and that became "Finkelstein says Irving is an indespensable historian."
Well, I didn't say it. And I just don't know. What I do know is that, at this point, I totally
here.. in this point... and I hope you will listen, I totally agree with John Stweart Mill. I teach
Mill every quarter of whenever I teach. I love Mill's On Liberty. One of the things Mill says in On
liberty, he says that the most useful person in society, in trying to uncover ideas, is the devil's
advocate because the devil's advocate is always trying to find holes in your argument and trying to
find errors in your facts. Now, the devil's advocate is a devil. That's why he or she is called a
devil's advocate but he or she serves the useful purpose of trying to find errors in your reasoning,
errors in your facts. That is to say, as Mill puts it, he or she, even if he or she is a devil, he
or she is trying to help you find the truth. Now, may be his or her motives are evil, incidious,
malicious or wicked but it makes no difference because by looking for errors in your arguments he or
she is helping you -- unwittingly no doubt -- but helping you to find truth. And so I think, and I
can imagine how it's gonna be distorted, I think people like David Irving serve a good function in
society. You know, I had... a few months ago for a film I was making .. with a British documentary,
I went to visit Raul Hilberg, the leading authority in the world on the Nazi Holocaust, and I talked
to him of this whole issue of the Holocaust deniers because Hilberg says "I think they're useful,
they're good." That's the world's leading authority on the topic. And I asked him, "well, how are
they useful to you?" And he says "you know why they're useful?" he says "they ask all the questions
that everyone else takes for granted, that nobody else thinks to ask." So he says "everybody knows,"
he gives me an example, "that in the gas chambers they usef Zyclon B and then along come these
Holocaust deniers and they say: 'well, we tested this Zyclon B. it can't kill humans. it can kill
vermin but not humans.'" And it was an interesting point, and then Hilberg says: "well, it turns out
they used Zyclon B but they couldn't use it in its pristine form, they had to mix it." They asked an
interesting question. And he says: "I think they seve a useful purpose." And I thought to myself,
"if the world's leading authority bar none on the Nazi Holocaust is not terrified of these Holocaust
deniers and isn't out to supress them, who am I to say they shouldn't have the right to speak?" And
that's all I said and I'll stick absolutely by that. Everyone... you know, Mill says at one point in
On Liberty, he says "even if the world is in the right, dissentions still have... dissentions --
those who disagree -- still probably have something to contribute to truth, a small piece." I think
that's true. And that's my view on the topic. I think among... [audience applause] among rational
people that won't even be considered controversial. To let the devil's advocate speak... who would
even challenge that? Again, it's one of the peculiarities of discussion when we come to this topic.
The level of mental hysteria it evokes, is really terrifying.'

I will never never understand people like the protesters I just saw on Newsnight, George Galloway
among them. Don't they understand that if you accept that one person can be gagged, then anyone can,
depending on the vagaries of the political wind? Don't they understand that if someone promotes
reactionary views the best thing to do is show dialectically that they're wrong - and in doing so, 
challenge all the other thick idiots out there who believe them? And that gagging orders always make
the person ordaining them look as if they haven't got an argument? Don't they understand that their
own view needs to go into the lion's mouth of opposition in order to strengthen itself? Don't they
understand that discussion is all we've bloody got? Fucking morons. 

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