Putting Holocaust deniers in prison.

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Justice has been served, said Hans Rauscher in Austria’s Der Standard. David Irving, the British historian infamous for denying that the Holocaust happened, is going to jail for three years. Irving thought he would escape prison by claiming that he had changed his mind since 1989, when he made the speeches that broke Austrian law. But his late apology fooled nobody. And his lawyer’s argument, that Irving should be “entitled to his opinion,” was rightly found to be bogus. Holocaust deniers have no “opinion.” They know that the Holocaust is a historical fact, that the Nazis murdered 6 million Jews, and yet they choose to lie about it. The goal of this fake scholarship is quite explicitly the rebirth of National Socialism as a political movement. “It is simply too much to ask of democracy to tolerate fascism.”

It’s not as if Irving is a noble academic, bravely upholding an unpopular view, said Gian Enrico Rusconi in Italy’s La Stampa. He’s a known racist and anti-Semite. It isn’t “truth” he’s after, it is the spread of hatred. That’s why for decades he has “intentionally put his historical experience at the service of neo-Nazi, racist, and anti-democratic movements.” In fact, when he was arrested last November, he was in Austria specifically to address a neo-Nazi group. Irving’s views are certainly as repugnant as they are idiotic, said Spain’s El Mundo in an editorial. But it is unfair to imprison him for being wrong about this aspect of history when others who get their history wrong go free. It is no crime in any European country to “deny the crimes of Stalin,” who also murdered millions, or to deny “the tortures of the Inquisition.” Europe’s laws banning Holocaust denial “are a nefarious exception” to the general European protection of free speech. No wonder Muslims complain of a double standard.


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