• "God invented war so Americans could learn geography" -- Mark Twain.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Holocaust Newspeak at BBC

In the Shrieking News department, today's BBC headlined that "British Holocaust denier David Irving has arrived in Poland to lead a tour of sites from the Nazi occupation." The article explains that Irving has written a book containing "the suggestion that Hitler knew nothing of the Holocaust until late 1943, and that he never gave the order for the annihilation of Europe's Jews."

Does BBC know the meaning of its own English? Does it know what an indirect object is? To say that someone knew nothing of something is not to say that the something did not exist or that it did not take place.

For some reason David Irving is intent on exculpating Hitler for the project to annihilate european Jews; but that does not equate with denying that the genocide took place.

By now, it is unlikely that the fervid scriveners in the BBC Ministry of Truth are even aware of the origins of their own taboo. In the 1960's and 70's Germany, France and other european countries passed laws outlawing racism, denigrating an ethnic group and denying or minimizing the holocaust. Irving has not "denied" Nazi genocide, he has "minimized" some aspect of it.

The problem with any law that seeks to curtail free speech is that it inevitably paints with too broad a brush. What does it mean to "minimize" Nazi genocide? At bottom, it means to disagree in some manner with someone else's imposed, mandatory account. Turning disgreement or divergence from orthodoxy into a crime is simply demanding, under penalty of law, mute, subservient and unthinking assent to an official truth.

The resultant absurdities are never ending. Of late, Bishop Williamson was also accused of "denying" {beat your breast and gasp here} the holocaust. Shrieked the New York Times: he denied "that six million Jews were gassed...."

Well, no serious historian had ever claimed that six million anybodies were "gassed". Neither is there any agreement on the precise number of people who were gassed, starved, murdered, or left to die of exhaustion or disease -- i.e. in some sense "killed" in the overall Nazi "cleansing" programme for Europe.

Raul Hilberg, the jewish historian who is responsible for coining the current usage of the word "holocaust" and who is accepted by Jews and the German government as the "chief historian" of the episode, estimated the total number of deaths from all causes at 5.4 million. Has Hilberg therefore "minimized the holocaust" by deviating from the Weisenthal Institute's "official" figure of "six million"? Certainly 5.4 is less than 6.0.

Hilberg also stated that estimating the total number of deaths was a very complex and uncertain task. A thinking person can see why. The genocide of european Jews was not a simple act of "murdering" X number of Jews. The genocide took place through multi-level and permuting programmes and policies over a four year period. At some point, in such a convergence of processes, an ultimate result or threshold is reached at which point one could easonably say "taken all together this amounts to the equivalent of a systematic plan". (In legal parlance this would be called a "constructive conspiracy" FN-1 .) But to say that calculating the number of deaths is "complex" is to admit that what is called "the holocaust" is also complex.

But if an historical event is complex that necessarily means that there is no simple truth about it. Rather it involves equivocal or uncertain facts giving rise to different inferences and implications. In short, a complex event is something over which reasonable men can in good faith differ. But not, apparently, when it comes to a select group. To question (as Williamson did) the number of Jews who were gassed, becomes the crime of "minimizing" which was then equated with the criminal taboo of "denying" the Holy Holocaust.

It is foolish and in any case beside the point to exculpate Hitler from knowledge of the genocide carried out on his watch. It is true that there is no Fuhrer Order or document which clearly and unequivocally connects him to a planned extermination of Jews. So what? History is as much a question of knowledgable and probable inference as it is of so called "hard facts". In all events, to argue that Hitler did not know of the extermination "until 1943" and then did nothing to stop it afterwards certainly qualifies as an unworthy quibble. But a foolish quibble is not the same as blasphemy.

When the State, at its own initiative or upon the initiative of a faction, turns foolish quibbles into blasphemies, then we have all lost our freedom of speech and with it our freedom of thought.