The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/press/jhr.1293


Archive/File: holocaust/england/irving irving.aus.003
Last-Modified: 1994/06/22

From _The Journal of Historical Review_, Vol. 13, Number 6 (Nov./Dec. 1993):
 
 
                   Censorship Update from Down Under
          VICTORY FOR IRVING IN AUSTRALIA FREE SPEECH STRUGGLE
 
                               Greg Raven
 
 
In an important victory for free speech and open debate on the Holocaust
issue, Australia's Federal Court on September 16 unanimously overturned an
earlier decision by immigration authorities to reject the visa application
of David Irving.  Any decision about a visa application by Irving, the high
court ruled, must now be reconsidered "by law."  There now appears to be no
legal bar to visits by the bestselling British revisionist historian, who
immediately announced plans for a six-week lecture tour.

     The high court also ordered the Australian government to foot the total
bill of more than $100,000 in legal costs in the case, including Irving's
own legal expenses of $22,000.

     In an editorial commenting on the Federal Court decision, the Melbourne
_Herald Sun_ (Sept. 18) offered some advice:


     The Jewish community vocally opposed his [Irving's] visit.  This was a
     tactical error.  It elevated Mr. Irving to martyr status, and ensured a
     level of publicity he did not merit.  The sensible course for
     Australian Jews now is to ignore him.


     Irving thus once again finds himself at the forefront in the free
speech struggle against the international campaign to suppress dissident
views on the Holocaust issue.  "The fight is colossal," says Irving, a
_Journal_ contributor.  (For more on this, see the Jan.-Feb. 1993 _Journal_,
pp. 12-19.)

     "I think my opponents have underestimated the tenacity of the English,"
says Irving.  "We have a tendency in England when we hear gunfire not to
move away from it but, out of a sheer sense of bloody-minded curiosity, to
go and find out what the gunfire's about..." (_Herald Sun_, May 20)

     Following Australia's example, New Zealand has recently repealed its
own ban on Irving's entry.  Officials there still won't let him speak in
public, though.  "We shall see!," says Irving.


Background

     The "fight" began late last year when Irving, planning to combine a
six-week lecture tour with attending the wedding of his daughter to an
Australian, contacted ten (mostly Jewish) heads of university history
departments in an attempt to arrange debates on matters historical.
Although not one of those contacted responded to the offer, news of his
plans triggered a campaign to bar him from the country.  Citing earlier
alleged exclusions of him from Austria, Canada, Italy, and South Africa,
some legal setbacks in Germany, and the sometimes violent controversy over
his works in Britain, Jewish groups argued that this was not an issue of
free speech, but rather one of public safety.

     Bowing to pressure, Immigration Minister Gerry Hand decided in February
to deny Irving's visa application on the grounds that he was "likely to
become involved in activities disruptive to, or violence threatening harm
to, the Australian community or a group within the Australian community."
(For more on this, see the May-June 1993 _Journal_, pp. 13-16.)  As matters
turned out, Hand was not entirely incorrect, although the disruption and
violence came not from Irving (or his supporters), but from his enemies.

     As Australia's leading daily newspapers have plainly acknowledged,
efforts to bar Irving from the country have come almost entirely from the
Jewish community.  Irving has served libel writs against five major Jewish
personalities and periodicals.


A Dangerous Man?

     By denying Irving a visa, Australian immigration authorities had
implied that the internationally renowned researcher, author, and lecturer
is as dangerous as four Serbian terrorists -- the only others to be refused
entry into Australia in a similar manner out of 1.68 million visa applicants
in 1991-92.  (Martin Daly, _The Age_, Feb. 16.)

     An editorial in the _Newcastle Herald_ (May 21) made a related point:


     A worrying aspect of the ban on Mr. Irving is that it is selective.  In
     1987, the Foreign Affairs Department brought the then leader-in-exile
     of the African National Congress, Mr. Oliver Tambo, to Australia for a
     tour.  This was despite the fact that Mr. Tambo's much-publicised visit
     was expected to polarise opinion, and did.  However, there was no
     violence on that occasion and there would probably have been none if
     Mr. Irving's opponents and the Federal Government alike had been
     prepared to let him make his tour without surrounding it with
     controversy.


Electronic Democracy

     Although forced to postpone his tour by one year, Irving's message has
been getting through nevertheless.  The historian has appeared, via
satellite, three times on Australian television during prime time, and has
given countless live and recorded radio interviews.  Dozens of articles,
editorials, and letters to the editor have appeared in newspapers across the
country, and letters by Irving clarifying his position have appeared in at
least two major newspapers.  (_The Australian_, May 24; _Sydney Morning
Herald_, May 26.)

     Generating the most attention, though, has been a specially-made
80-minute videotape cassette, "The Search for Truth in History," in which
Irving effectively presents his views on the Holocaust issue and on the
international fight for free speech.  According to Veritas, Irving's
Australian publisher, hundreds of the video were sold within hours of its
release in May.  "They started buying it late yesterday [Wednesday]
afternoon and haven't stopped," reported Veritas manager Jan Pope.  (_Herald
Sun_, May 21)  Altogether some 10,000 copies have been produced.  ("The
Search for Truth in History" is available from the IHR for $29, plus $2 for
shipping.  See the inside front cover of this issue.)

     All proceeds from sales of the video are earmarked for the David Irving
Legal Fighting Fund, which was set up to overturn restrictions on the
historian's movements worldwide.  (P.O. Box 1707, Key West, FL 33041, USA)


"G" Rated

     When Irving's opponents learned of the video, they immediately
contacted the Film and Literature Censorship Board (FCB).  Any video
imported for commercial purposes must have a FCB rating; without a rating it
would be illegal to sell or screen the video for profit.  Technically, the
FCB can legitimately censor a video only if the contents are violent or
sexually depraved.  Just hours before the first screening was scheduled to
start, the FCB issued the video a "G" rating, claiming it is "suitable for
viewing by persons of all ages and contains no material that would distress
or harm children."  Five members of the ten-member Board voted to award the
"G" rating, four voted for a "PG" rating, and one voted to ban the video
entirely as being "not in the national interest."

     The move was applauded by International PEN, a writers' group that
earlier supported Irving's right to visit Canada.  Likewise supportive was
the _Sydney Morning Herald_ (May 21), which editorialized:


          This robust trust by the [Film Censorship] board in the good sense
     of the public is in the best interests of a workable and useful system
     of censorship.  The point about censorship is that there should be as
     little of it as is necessary for the well-being of the community.
     There has been too much censorship by  Australian authorities of Mr.
     Irving's strange views, though.  It's becoming increasingly obvious
     that the Federal Government made a mistake when it decided, just before
     the last election, to ban Mr. Irving from Australia.


Israeli Snooping?

     Interest in the outcome of the FCB vote was not limited to citizens of
Australia.  Israel's secret intelligence agency Mossad apparently bugged the
room in which the FCB had met to discuss the Irving video.  In an article
headlined "Israeli secret agents linked with bugging," the _Sunday Times_ of
Perth (May 30) reported that "allegations of a covert bugging operation
organized in Sydney by the Israeli intelligence organization Mossad are
being pursued" by the leader of Australia's opposition National Party.  "An
espionage operation using a highly-sophisticated listening device is alleged
to have been discovered" in the building where the FCB met.  "There is
speculation that the alleged operation is linked to the canceled visit and
lecture tour by controversial historian David Irving, who claims Jewish
suffering in the Holocaust has been overstated," the paper went on.


Pressure and Threat

     Having failed to halt distribution of the new Irving video, Jewish
groups next threatened and otherwise pressured the managers of hotels,
halls, and theaters where it was scheduled to be shown.  As a result, a
number of screenings were canceled.  In a letter to the _Herald Sun_ (May
25), one reader expressed his disgust at this turn of events:

          What a bunch of spineless yellow-bellies have so many Australians
     become!  The slightest threat of protest and virtually the entire
     management of the proposed venues for the G-rated David Irving "The
     Search for Truth in History" video presentation, cave in.


     At sites where the video was scheduled to show, groups of Jews gathered
to protest.  David Berinson, 23-year-old spokesman for one such protest, was
quoted as saying, "It's clear that this sort of video, though I haven't seen
it, and David Irving's statements have formed the basis of a lot of neo-Nazi
action in movements in Europe."  (_West Australian_, Perth, May 20)  Jewish
community leader Mark Leibler commented:  "Australia is no place for the
peddling of Irving's sick, racist hate propaganda."  (_Herald Sun_, May 25)

     Mick Coventry, owner of one establishment where the video was shown,
defended his decision to allow the screening:  "I don't care what is on the
video, as long as it's not illegal."  (_Riverine Herald_, May 26.)


Media Coverage

     Australian media coverage of the entire affair has been intense, as
noted in the May-June 1993 _Journal_.  Front page headlines in the
_Shepparton News_ of May 21 and 23, for example, proclaimed in two-inch-high
letters, "'Nazi'video on show," and "Irving ban foiled."

     A hostile review of the Irving video in _The Australian_ (Sydney, May
21) by Sam Lipski -- a "media commentator" and publisher of the Australian
Jewish News -- carefully avoided any substantive arguments and instead
relied on character assassination and misrepresentation to discount Irving's
message.

     In contrast to media coverage in other Western democracies of similar
disputes, most Australian papers have fairly and accurately presented the
views of Irving and his supporters.  For the most part, the country's press
reported that Irving regards the Holocaust story as "exaggerated,"
"overstated," and "open to debate."  Assertions that Irving "denies the
Holocaust" come almost exclusively from Jewish sources, which have routinely
misrepresented other aspects of the issue.


The Free Speech Debate

     Defenders of the orthodox Holocaust extermination story predictably
deny that repression of dissident views on this question involves any issue
of free speech.  Most Australian newspapers sharply disagree, even though
none seems to think very highly of Irving.

     An editorial in the Perth _West Australian_ (May 20) reflected what
might be called a consensus view:


     It is one of the measures of a truly democratic system that even those
     whose views and values are anathema to a majority of people are
     entitled to a fair hearing.

          Indeed, the ultimate strength of a democracy rests on its ability
     to accommodate a free flow of ideas -- even ones which may be repugnant
     and which may be seen in some quarters as posing a danger to cohesion
     in the community...

          The Federal Government's decision early this year to refuse a visa
     for an Australian visit by controversial British writer David Irving
     was an affront to principles of free speech....  [This] action has
     diminished the rights of all Australians.

          ...Perversely, by banning Mr. Irving, the Government and those who
     support the decision have given him an international platform from
     which to campaign.  Canberra's heavy hand has ensured that Mr. Irving's
     warped material has been disseminated more widely and attracted more
     publicity than would ever have happened if he had been allowed into
     Australia this time -- as he has in the past.


     Professor Paul Wilson, Dean of Arts at Queensland University of
Technology, wrote in the _Canberra Times_ (May 24):


          ...Mr. Irving has visited this country on two other occasions and
     there is no record of violence being perpetrated against the Jewish
     community as a result of these tours.

          ...To ban a person on the basis of what might occur as a result of
     what he might say establishes a dangerous precedent.  Such a ruling
     could be used effectively against any international visitor wishing to
     enter this country who has opinions that conflict with the views of any
     religion, ethnic, political or special-interest group.

          ...The ultimate irony is that if David Irving is banned from our
     shores he can justifiably claim (as he already has) that free speech is
     threatened in Australia.


     An editorial in the _Canberra Times_ (May 20) opined:


          The Commonwealth film censor has shown considerably better
     judgment in classifying British historian David Irving's video so that
     it can be shown publicly, than the Government showed in February by
     banning the man from Australia.

          ...Instead of attracting a small amount of critical press
     attention for his views, the ban has generated a public debate about
     his right to free speech.  He has attracted respectable defenders (of
     his right of free speech, not of his history) who otherwise never would
     have allowed their names to be associated with his.

          As is so often the case, if the Government had simply let events
     take their course his views would have been more than adequately
     exposed by the light of public debate.


     The Melbourne _Herald Sun_ (editorial, May 21) expressed a similar
view, but upset a few readers with a reference to "that article of faith for
post-war Jews, the Holocaust":


          The David Irving affair is an assault on our basic democratic
     right -- freedom of speech.  This newspaper holds no brief for Mr.
     Irving, a historian with widely contested, controversial views.  But we
     believe that he has an absolute right to express them.  Just as the
     many people who fiercely oppose him have an equal right to publicly
     disagree.

          As we said in this column in February, the Federal Government was
     wrong to refuse Mr. Irving entry.  We also believe Australian Jews have
     been mistaken in seeking to stop screening of a video of his lecture,
     passed by the Office of Film and Literature.

          Central to Mr. Irving's unpopularity is his challenge to that
     article of faith for post-war Jews, the Holocaust....  But by
     campaigning to silence Mr. Irving, Australian Jews have succeeded in
     focusing unmerited public attention both on the man and his claims.


Side Issues

     In the media discussion surrounding Irving's efforts to visit
Australia, marginal side issues have sometimes obscured the larger picture.
Irving's opponents, for example, have accused him of supporting Australian
far right groups, of provoking outbursts of anti-Jewish graffiti, and of
erring as an historian.  In this last instance, one paper went so far as to
claim that Irving was wrong in his views about Winston Churchill, and cited
revisionist historian John Charmley's critical book on Churchill as proof.
(For more about Charmley's highly critical biography of the British leader,
see the March-April Journal.)

     As part of the general debate provoked by the Irving ban, critical
attention has been given to the issue of improper Jewish influence on the
Australian government, the totalitarian tactics of those who would deny
Irving the right to enter Australia, the pointless wastefulness of war
crimes trials over allegations dating back to the Second World War, and the
precious nature of free speech.


Another Victory

     As Irving has pointed out, and as the recent events in Australia
underscore, each new effort to censor or ban revisionists has ultimately
proven to be another boost for the revisionist cause.  Clearly, it is
becoming ever more difficult for those who seek to monopolize history to
rely on help from venal and repressive government officials.  With active
support from the growing worldwide revisionist community, each attempt at
censorship provides yet another opportunity to broadcast the revisionist
viewpoint to additional thousands who otherwise would never hear of it.


[end of article]


[Reprinted from _The Journal of Historical Review_, P.O. Box 4296, Torrance,
CA 90510, USA.  Subscriptions:  $40 per year (domestic).]


     This article was scanned by the System Operator of the "Banished CPU"
computer bulletin board system, which is located in Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.


                    Banished CPU supports Freedom of Speech!
          ___________________________________________________________
         |                                                           |
         |  For 300-9600 bps (3 lines w/V.32) call:  (503) 232-5783  |
         |  For 14400 bps (2 lines w/V.32bis) call:  (503) 232-6566  |
         |___________________________________________________________|
         |                                                           |
         | -= How to access Banished CPU's public FTP Mail Server:  |
         |  Send regular Internet E-Mail to "FTPMAIL@BANISHED.COM".  |
         |  Include in your message the command "GET BANFTP-L.TXT".  |
         |___________________________________________________________|

[end of file]


-Dan Gannon





Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.