Will the European governments that ban any talk about the Nazis not having murdered 6 million Jews start rounding up the newspaper editors who published the Muhammad cartoons and start putting them on trial for crimes against Islam? European governments and their media mouthpieces appear to use the mantle of free speech to justify publishing supposed insults against Muslims. But what about the free speech rights of people who dare to go against conventional thinking of Nazi atrocities committed against Europe’s Jews?
These Holocaust deniers, revisionists and skeptics don’t have any rights to free speech in many European countries (and Canada), unlike their brethren who dare to publish images of the Prophet Muhammad but don’t face criminal charges. David Irving now must spend the next three years in prison for giving two speeches in Austria in 1989. Ernst Zundel faces up to five years in prison for publishing his opinions on the Zundelsite website while living in Canada.
Should people who downplay the Confederate States of America’s treatment of slaves and the U.S. government’s treatment of Native Americans face criminal charges? Should the people who publicly contend that the U.S. government was justified in killing hundreds of thousands in Hiroshima and Nagasaki face criminal charges? Should the people who deny the wickedness of the U.S. invasions of Vietnam and Iraq faces criminal charges? Should the people who deny the wickedness of Israel’s conduct against Palestinians face criminal charges? Of course not!
We are dealing with a simple yet extremely dangerous case of nation-states gone wild. Instead of addressing their complicity in modern-day atrocities—such as providing either unabashed logistical support for or tacit approval of the U.S. government’s crimes around the world—these governments arrest people for public speech.
Irving, Zundel and others who face criminal charges of “denying the Holocaust” have not committed violence against anybody. They have not given orders to soldiers to invade and occupy another country. They have not given orders to police or soldiers to arrest and imprison individuals without charges. They have not given approval to secret police, soldiers or prison guards to torture individuals.
Irving, Zundel and others have expressed their opinions about one of the most despicable periods in our world’s history. These expressions might anger people. But these people are not in positions of power today that would give them the means to implement policies that mimic the conduct of the Nazis.
Today, the leaders of liberal democratic governments are the ones with the authority (and police and military firepower) to mimic selected policies of the Nazis and the policies of other notorious regimes in our world’s history without fear they will face the consequences of their deadly actions.
If one does not like what some people might say or write about the Holocaust, then that person should ignore it. If one does not like images of the Prophet Muhammad published in newspapers, then that person should ignore them.
What we should not ignore is when nation-states, with their monopoly on violence, lock up people for expressing their opinions about government atrocities committed 60 years ago. More important, we should not ignore the fact that the governments that are locking up individuals for speaking their mind about the actions of the Nazis are the same governments aiding and abetting (or refusing to denounce and stop) the atrocities committed today by the world’s only superpower and its confederates. -Mark Hand