Monday, October 15, 2007

Holocaust Denier Invited to Oxford

I had an opportunity to see Deborah Lipstadt speak a couple years ago regarding her sordid run in with she challenged David Irving, a well known denier of the Holocaust. He wound up suing her in British court for libel and other related charges. Because in Britain the laws are such that one is guilty until proven innocent, and Lipstadt is an American, defending herself became difficult, time consuming, and quite expensive. Her tale has a happy ending and ultimately she defeated Irving in court and that case along with the utter ridiculousness of his arguement went a long way toward nullifying Irving's reputation and his claims.

In fact, Professor Lipstadt ended her speech by recounting a story of a run in with a cab driver in England after the conclusion of the trial. She exchanged pleasantries and the cab driver recognized her and he was familiar with the case. He concluded by saying this,

Mr. Irving, we haven't heard much from that chap lately

It seems even the cab driver knew full well what Irving was all about and the venom he spewed. Yet, the world reknowned Oxford University has decided to give the disgraced Irving a platform.

Oxford University’s world famous Oxford Union debating society has sparked outrage after it was revealed that they have invited Holocaust denier David Irving, who was recently released from an Austrian jail, to address students at the end of November. The Oxford Union has also asked British fascist leader Nick Griffin to join him, reports The Guardian.“If Columbia can invite Ahmadinejad, then why shouldn’t we invite Irving?” one Oxford Union committee member asked.

Last month Irving told The Guardian that the Jews were responsible for “most of the wars of the last 100 years.”

Now, some of us not so elite may not be so smart as those at Oxford, however we know that not everyone deserves the legitimization of a forum at a prestigious university. Some of us believe that debating whether or not the Holocaust actually happened is not only a worthless exercise, but more importantly a slap in the face of the millions of victims of it and their families. I am sure the powers that be at Oxford are sitting in their Ivory Towers right now and are proud of themselves because they think they are giving everyone a voice. Well, everyone deserves the right to free speech however not everyone deserves the platform of Oxford University. There should be some perspectives that Oxford rejects, and I for one, do not think that it is too much to ask that Holocaust deniers be rejected as a voice at Oxford. I will be watching closely to see if this same institution rejects other voices and who they are.

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