The Corner

Holocaust Denial Law Denial

Vox Day, whom I gather was favorably disposed to Jonah’s book, has a post up on “the Israel Lobby” which gives the impression that I support the criminalization of Holocaust denial:

As I wrote to Mark Steyn earlier today, with the exception of Germany, Europeans are completely Holocausted-out. Crying Holocaust or anointing a Hitler of the week just isn’t taken seriously by anyone anymore. In fact, the laws against Holocaust denial have only led people to call the Holocaust into question. After all, there’s no need for a law against denying World War II, because everyone knows it happened.

Mr. Day is referring to my observations on the meeting of the Swiss and Iranian presidents. His e-mail to me this morning said:

Please know that the constant references to the Holocaust by pro-Israeli writers is one reason why no one in Europe outside of Germany pays any attention to it anymore.  Holocaust references are now seen as little more than emotional propaganda, as the event has been trivialized by over-reference to it.:

Just for the record, I have opposed laws against Holocaust denial my entire adult life. I even have a book out there explaining why. Up north I’ve spent the last year-and-a-half attacking the ludicrous position of the buffoon who runs the Canadian Jewish Congress and his friends in B’nai Brith Canada and similar organizations that restrictions on free speech are necessary because, if you let some loser in his parents’ basement in Saskatoon post an anti-Semitic remark on the Internet, next thing you know the prairies will be in the express lane to Auschwitz.

This is not only profoundly trivializing of the Holocaust and insulting to its victims, as well as historically ignorant of the Weimar Republic’s prosecution of anti-Semitic speech (and a fat lot of good that did). But it also renders a principled argument by Canada and Europe against Islamic speech-policing all but impossible. The Muslims say: Well, look, you guys have accepted the notion of group defamation (to which Common Law has traditionally been antipathetic) re Jews. So why shouldn’t we get a slice of that action, too?

So I deny I’m a denier of Holocaust deniers’ right to deny. That said, my post yesterday was not about the Holocaust. I’m not the one who keeps bringing it up; Mahmoud Ahmadinejad does — and in the lively context of not merely denying the last one but of threatening a sequel. I’m not saying it should be “illegal” for him to mouth off, but I am saying that, when the chief of state of a regime fast-tracking its nuclear program engages in explicitly elminationist rhetoric we shouldn’t treat him as just another member of the geopolitical cocktail circuit like the prime minister of New Zealand.

Oh, and Mr. Day is very much mistaken if he thinks the Germans are still hung up on Holocaust guilt.

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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