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This Holocaust revisionist has a confession to make, and it’s worse than anything to which Bradley Smith confessed in his best-selling (?) Confessions of a Holocaust Revisionist: I have become a grudging admirer of Deborah Lipstadt. Yes, the Deborah Lipstadt who in 2001 with the able assistance of her publisher Penguin-Putnam defended successfully against the libel suit brought before the Queen’s Bench by the embattled David Irving. Lipstadt had labeled Irving a “Holocaust denier” in her 1993 book about “Holocaust denial.” The book sold adequately before the trial, and considerably better during and after it. In the trial’s wake, Lipstadt became the standard-bearer in her own “Growing Assault” against revisionism, garnering bouquets and brickbats from the warring factions on either side of the subject. For most of us who read this newsletter, Lipstadt was fully kitted out in horns and a tail.
As the jackals closed in to pick Irving’s figurative bones (the verdict ruined him financially, if not otherwise), our new celebrity Deborah Lipstadt began to show that she was no mere pawn of the powerful interests she chose to serve at times when—and only when—doing so struck her as the right thing to do.
As her erstwhile accuser was apprehended and imprisoned in Austria for doing the very sort of thing Lipstadt publicly accused him of doing, she came out foursquare as “a free-speech person,” and with impeccable logic, she objected to his being punished in any (criminal) way for his speech.
Studying the matter, I immediately dismissed all imaginings that Lipstadt was influenced by remorse over Irving’s partly self-inflicted fate and concluded that she really did believe in Open Debate, including of the Holocaust! I conceived admiration for this position, so unmistakably demonstrated by this particular famous person—their champion, at least where it came to attacking those who actually undertook to revise history in ways that she opposed.
I kept my admiration to myself, except for revealing it one dark night to Bradley Smith himself, who had long since shown himself to be not only infinitely understanding of human foibles, but also scrupulously discreet about letting others in on the dark secrets that had been entrusted to him. And here, my raging sentimentality got a needed splash of cold water from this newsletter’s namesake, my senior by more than fifteen years (and there are very few more of those around anymore than there are of real Holocaust survivors): Bradley reminded me that La Lipstadt once proclaimed, as to the Debate that we all wish could be conducted openly and honestly, as though among civilized human beings of good will: “there is no other side” to the Holocaust question! Take that, Onkel Jett—you don’t count, nor does the country you fought for and died defending!
Then came last week’s interview of Lipstadt by Ha’aretz http://tinyurl.com/7srwtwd, the left-leaning Israeli newspaper that must constitute the biggest thorn in the side of Zionism since the Ottoman Empire. In this watershed broadside, Lipstadt applied her rightly vaunted incisors to a vice lately stalking the worlds of history and politics: Holocaust Abuse.
Holocaust Abuse, according to my flawed heroine, is the venal appropriation of the suffering and injustice endured by the victims of the Holocaust (such as they may be) to serve the various personal political ambitions of those holding political office in Israel and the US, and no less of those who seek to gain such office, particularly in the US, and particularly of late of the Republican Party. The orgy of overweening devotion to the supposed cause of Israeli military supremacy in the Middle East recently displayed at the Jewish Republican Coalition properly sickened her, though she didn’t specify whether it offended her concerns for the sovereignty of her native United States or her objection to imperialism and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Palestine. She wisely confined her remarks to an objection to the glorification and perpetuation of one wrong (that Holocaust) to support the continued prosecution of fresh wrong in the service of political careers empowered by the sins of the fathers.
But the true demonstration of her wisdom—what moved me to come out of the closet—came when she illuminated the soul-rotting potential of Holocaust Abuse that occurred when Jews themselves, their hearts for whatever reason deficient in the profound insights of Judaism, mistook the legacies of the Holocaust—and of all manifestations of anti-Semitism, both real and imagined—for the essence of their religion, their inheritance, or their core beliefs. In words both trenchant and at the same time understanding, Lipstadt diagnosed the vacuum created in many by these new, secular times in the belief systems of Jew and non-Jew alike as a breach open to exploitation by demagogues both political and (falsely) religious, in which both the devotions and the pocketbooks of the would-be faithful can be mobilized by hate-mongers mouthing opportunistic slogans such as “Never Again!”
To be sure, the fiery warrior of the Holocaust Mythology still remains to resist the growing assault of thought and reason that she is obviously falling prey to. The full version of Ha’aretz’s interview http://tinyurl.com/7kfw2gc of her includes this self-aggrandizing passage:
“One of the results of my dealing with deniers has been my absolute devotion to truth.”
Now, that’s saying a lot—perhaps even much too much—with a very few words! One could infer that we “deniers” taught her respect for the truth, but there’s so much else to dwell upon that we’ll forgo the flattery. Dear Deborah, the truth, as you probably know despite your cavalier reference to it as though it were a mere commodity, is incredibly elusive and subtle, even when it isn’t subsumed, as our Holocaust, in oceans of lies, propaganda, fraud, and self-serving perjuries. The only “absolute” that can be connected to truth is the pure concept itself—anything and everything of substance can approach the truth only through unending processes of discovery and interpretation. And the only concept that can connect truth to times, places, and events is honesty—indefatigable, remorseless honesty that is so thoroughgoing that it can be, and is, turned upon itself in a process known as—revision.
Dr. Lipstadt does, in fact, in the very next remark in her interview, claim to subscribe to a very modest step in the revisionist spirit in having rejected the prima facie preposterous story of a group of 93 young Jewish women in Krakow who reportedly committed suicide rather than face likely rape at the hands of conquering German troops. Brava, Dr. Lipstadt! That’s the idea, although I must confess that this step alone does not to my mind quite confirm an absolute devotion to the truth or even, more-accurately, an absolute aversion to risible fabrications. In fact, I’m not impressed at all by it—other allies of Dr. Lipstadt have yielded on more-central myths such as the tattooed lampshades, the submariners’ socks made from human hair, and even (the use of) gas chambers at concentration camps in the Altreich. But I can’t deny it’s a step in the right direction—good as far as it goes.
But Lipstadt’s claim of “absolute devotion to the truth” implies an ability on her part to discern the truth and declare its presence that neither she nor all the king’s historians and all the king’s horses put together have, though it serves them not only for purposes of dictating the regnant narrative (the “truth”), but in disqualifying any alternative narratives that they might choose to designate as Not the Truth. Some of the rest of us are not only devoted quite as absolutely as Lipstadt to the truth, but we are in fact rather more ingenious, if not also vigorous, in ferreting out the elusive animal, more honest in drawing conclusions about it, and more resolute in opposing the tsunami of official and anointed opprobrium we face for doing these things. For damn sure, we make a lot less money at it and occupy a good deal fewer endowed university chairs, a poverty for which our opponents condemn us most unsympathetically, though with annoying regularity.
My personal “savior” where intellect is concerned is George Orwell, he of Animal Farm and 1984. Though many, including myself, might fault our Deborah on her handling of many facts whose truth lies now before the births of most of us, her demonstrations in the years since the verdict of Irving v. Lipstadt & Penguin-Putnam suggest an intellect and value system that invite comparison with that of Eric Blair (Orwell’s real name). Will she attain Orwell’s power over this English language in which I write of them both? Will she ever take up overt fiction, as Orwell/Blair did, as the best means of conveying the truths that matter most? Obviously, the odds are against another George Orwell, so soon and from so unlikely a quarter of the ideological constellations under which we live.
But I can hope, and I do. Orwell, after all, was a devoted socialist (and not the National Socialist kind).
Additional information about this document
|Title:||Deborah Lipstadt Blasts 'Holocaust-abuse' by U.S., Israeli Politicians|
|Sources:||Smith’s Report, no. 188, January 2012, pp. 1f., 13f.|
|First posted on CODOH:||Dec. 1, 2015, 3:43 a.m.|