FPF-fwd.: HILLEL HALKIN
NEW YORK SUN: "Denying the Holocaust should be permissible"
Sat Feb 18, 2006 13:15

Subject: NEW YORK SUN: "Denying the Holocaust should be permissible"

Quote: "One only has to consult some the Holocaust denial bloggers on the Internet to see what a popular line of reasoning this is. Why be afraid of a free discussion, they ask, if you believe the truth is on your side? It can only be because the Jews know the truth is against them that they're so afraid to have things aired openly." [ ]

Cartoons & Holocaust Deniers

By HILLEL HALKIN

February 14, 2006 - Mr. Halkin is a contributing editor of The New York Sun.

I don't find myself agreeing with the prime minister of Iran about many things, but about one thing, I believe, he is right. It is inconsistent to claim, in the name of freedom of expression, that a Danish newspaper has the right to publish any cartoon of Muhammad that it wants and at the same time to have laws, as do at least seven Western countries, outlawing denial of the Holocaust.

Mr. Ahmadinejad has a point. Either freedom of expression exists as a general principle or it doesn't. If it doesn't, Muhammad cartoons should be bannable
even in a democracy. If it does, denying the Holocaust should be permissible, especially in a democracy.

Holocaust denial, needless to say, is a form of anti-Semitism. No one but an anti-Semite - a very rabid one - would make the preposterous charge that the
Jews invented the Holocaust, or wildly inflated the number of Jewish deaths in it, and then successfully fobbed off this fabrication on a gullible world. There is no such thing as "innocent" Holocaust denial. All Holocaust denial is
vicious and bigoted.

But denying many things can be vicious and bigoted. If I were to say, for instance, that black slavery wasn't so bad because the slaves were well treated and lived better on southern plantations than they did in Africa, that would be vicious and anti-black. If I were to say that the Japanese deliberately exaggerated the loss of life in Hiroshima to win world sympathy, that would be
vicious and anti-Japanese. If I were to say that the Bosnian Muslims supposedly slaughtered in Srebrenice were actually killed in battle with the Serbs, that would be vicious and anti-Muslim.

[FPF: Dutch war criminals in court hearing on illegal killings - Url.: http://tinyurl.com/662pp]

Should there be a law against each of these things? Should there be a million laws for each of the million ways in which it is possible to vicious and bigoted?

But the Holocaust is different, goes the argument. What happened in it is so horrendous that denying it is not like denying anything else.

This strikes me as a very weak argument indeed. Yes, the Holocaust was the most horrendous atrocity committed in the history of humanity.

[HR: I wonder? - Stalin en Cheka/KGB collaborators was sending tens of millions of "enemies of the people" (sixty-six million victims is one figure concerning the Gulag. Solzjenitsyn - 10 years in the camps - Url.: http://tinyurl.com/8ukcl]

But why shouldn't the second most horrendous atrocity, whatever that was, also be protected by law from would-be deniers? Why not the top ten? Why stop at one?

Moreover, Holocaust denial laws are not only unjustified infringements on freedom of speech, they're counter-productive. It is likely that Holocaust denial
would never have grown as astoundingly as it has, to the point that the head of one of the largest, most populated, and most powerful Muslim states in the
world has taken to repeatedly championing it in public, were it not for these laws.

This is so because these laws do two things. On the one hand, they encourage the claim that, if the Jews and their allies are so eager to make denial of the Holocaust a crime, they must have something to hide.

One only has to consult some the Holocaust denial bloggers on the Internet to see what a popular line
of reasoning this is. Why be afraid of a free discussion, they ask, if you believe the truth is on your side? It can only be because the Jews know the truth is against them that they're so afraid to have things aired openly.

Secondly, Holocaust denial laws provide a convenient excuse for the total nonsense that passes among Holocaust deniers for "historical research." Yes, they
say, our case isn't airtight - but how do you expect us to build it when you don't allow us to publish or disseminate our findings? Stop harassing us and we'll show you what legitimate historians we are.

Nor, even if Holocaust denial laws are in some sense unique, can they be detached from the general atmosphere of political correctness in which they exist
- an atmosphere that is unhealthy for the intelligent discussion of many other things. Although offending groups of people or making prejudiced remarks about them has little to recommend it in itself, the social taboos that now exist against anything that is definable as offensive or prejudiced, or that might possibly be construed as such, are in the long run far more damaging.

They lead to self censorship and fear to speak out on a wide variety of issues, and are far more pernicious than open prohibitions like Holocaust denial laws.

We are now seeing the consequences of this perniciousness in the debate over the Muhammad cartoons. It is worrisome to anyone who cares about free speech to see how many people in Europe and the United States (including, according to polls, nearly a third of all Danes) think these cartoons should not have been published. After all, they hurt Muslims' feelings. Is that really what a modern, democratic society should want to happen in it?

No, it isn't - but not hurting Muslims' (or Jews', or Christians', or vegetarians') feelings should not be a supreme social value either. When ideas are expressed, feelings sometimes get hurt. To hear it said that "Zionism is racism" is as hurtful to me as a Jew as it is for a Muslim to hear it said that "Islam encourages terror," but if we are going to live in a world in which the
possible relationship of Zionism to racism, or of Islam to terror, is a forbidden subject, we have given away our freedom to say what we think without even waiting for it to be taken.

As long as they're not openly inciting to anti-Jewish violence, people should be allowed to say what they want to about the Holocaust. We Jews are grown-ups and can take it. And only if we are and can are we entitled to tell Muslims that they should, too.

[andend] - Story Url.: http://www.nysun.com/article/27580

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FPF: Related:

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