Saturday, November 19, 2005

Don't Mention the War

David Irving was arrested in Austria for the crime of denying the Holocaust.

I'm trying to figure out the process where you pass a law saying that it's a crime to deny the holocaust.

He was going to travel to New Zealand, but he was not allowed entry, because anyone who has ever been deported from another country needs a special waiver to get into New Zealand and he wasn't granted one. I had no problem with that at all. Or rather I have a problem with our immigration laws, but given that we have these immigration laws then I have no problem with them applying to David Irving just like he was anyone else. But arresting him?

At first I was surprised because I thought Austria was particularly bad at facing up to its anti-semitic past (I may be wrong about that - I've no idea why I think it's true), but actually it makes sense. If you're trying to pretend that something never happened you don't want someone tramping up and down saying in a very loud voice "THIS NEVER HAPPENED". You just ignore it and hope it goes away.

I'm against the state engaging with Holocaust deniers for much the same reasons I'm against the left engaging with neo-nazis. But I think in a country like Austria, putting laws up to deal with a Holocaust denier, paradoxically shows an unwillingness to deal with the reality of the holocaust.


  1. These laws are common in Europe, freedom of speech doesn't seem to count for much there.

    I disagree with you re Irving being barred from entering from NZ. The govt blocked someone from entering the country on the basis of their political opinions. I can't see any way that's a good precedent. If it reflects the original intent of the law, then the law wants changing pretty badly. And if it doesn't reflect the original intent of the law, I hope Irving does take the govt to court and the judge gives them a major bollocking.

  2. But the law says that if someone gets deported from any other country they need a special waiver to come into New Zealand.

    Now I'm an open-borders kind of a gal, so I have a problem with most immigration laws, but I don't see why David Irving should have a special exception. But I could be convinced that there was a problem depending on how the waiver had been applied in the past.

  3. The problem I have with it is, if he'd been someone whose views the govt was happy with, no-one would have even mentioned to him that he needed a waiver, he would have just turned up here like most other visitors. But the govt doesn't like his views, so his deportation from another country provided leverage to keep him out. No moral high ground there.

  4. I'm really not suggesting that the government has any moral high ground in this issue.

    I don't believe that it's true that if his views were something that the government agreed with he woudln't even have been told he'd need a waiver - it's just the waiver may have been granted. But I don't know enough about the way waivers are granted or not granted to know for sure. That's where I could be persuaded.

    I agree that the situation makes it very convenient for the government, because they don't have to take a stand either way, just do nothing and the situation goes away.

  5. The anti-Nazi laws were written into German (and I assume Austrian) legislation after WW2 under allied pressure. You have to understand that having just suffered the most devastating war in history, Europeans in general were keen to do anything to suppress the ideology that caused that war.