Tuesday, December 12, 2006

How Long, O Lord, How Long?

Scenes of the Iranian conference on Holocaust denial greet us with nightmarish pomp - gold text on burgundy background, legions of attentive faces in the audience. While the "scholars" hosting this terror dress it in bland enough language (a "review of the Holocaust"), the purpose is clear, given the motley composition of the invitees:
Among those representing the United States was the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, whose prepared remarks, issued by the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said the gas chambers in which millions perished actually did not exist.

Robert Faurisson, an academic from France, said in his speech that the Holocaust was a myth created to justify the occupation of Palestine, meaning the creation of Israel.
Sixty-seven representatives from 30 countries, all ready to argue or outright deny that six million people were slaughtered through what amounted to technocratic ritual. Can you imagine anything more absurd?

Yes, but only just:
Frederick Toben, from Australia, said Mr. Ahmadinejad had opened an issue “which is morally and intellectually crippling the Western society.”

“People are imprisoned in Germany for denying the Holocaust,” he added. Mr. Toben said that he was jailed for six months in 1999 for his ideas and that there was a court order in Germany to arrest him if he again spoke against the Holocaust.
While Holocaust denial offends us, repression of speech repulses us absolutely. The idea that someone should be imprisoned for stating an opinion - no matter how absurd or hateful that opinion might be - should rankle in the stomach of everyone who loves freedom and reason.

These men, "scholars" in name only, do not have a leg to stand on. They deserve the harsh eye of public scrutiny to be turned on their lies and pomps with full force. But only in a free society, with a free exchange of ideas, can such scrutiny be brought to bear. Let these dissemblers suffer the rotten fruit and the harsh rejoinders of a public audience, not the relative security of a prison cell.


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