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5/28/2005

Christopher Hitchens, Holocaust-denier?

So says Max Blumenthal (son of Sid):
Dance, Hitchens, Dance

Hey Hitchens, since you've recounted how much fun you had sweatin' to the oldies at my Bar Mitzvah [Ed.-Hitchens and Blumenthal's father were once good friend.] -- and since you described me as "cowardly" for pointing out your habit of enabling Holocaust-deniers -- I wanted to provide you with some new tunes to dance to.

The first tune is called "Faurisson's Witness." It's... inspired by your involvement with Robert Faurisson, the French Holocaust denier who claimed the gas chambers at Auschwitz didn't exist. You know him very well. ... In December 1993, in a Vanity Fair piece called "Whose History Is It?" you tried to verify one of Faurisson's charges: that the Holocaust Museum contains false information on the Holocaust.... Ultimately, you confirmed Faurisson in the article, writing that, "according to the counter-revisionists, an important piece of evidence in the Holocaust Museum is not reliable."

Dancing yet, Hitchens? If not, maybe we should throw some Wagner on.

...

Now it's time to change tunes a little, Hitchens. ... the next song is a blithe waltz called, "Dinner with the Denier." It's about your innocent fox-trots with infamous Holocaust denier David Irving. You know, the self-described anti-Semite who said in 1998, "No documents whatever show that a Holocaust had ever happened."

In 1994, you held a dinner for Irving at your home in Washington. Who was there? What did you say to Irving to charm him? What drinks were served? Schnapps? According to Irving on his website, you had dinner or lunch with him "two your three times in [your] chosen hometown, Washington."

A year later, in your Vanity Fair article, "Hitler's Ghost," (which Irving has posted on his website) you argued that Irving's books deserve to be published in America, described criticism of Irving as "hysterical and old-maidish," and declared, "David Irving is not just a Fascist historian, he is also a great historian of Fascism." Nevermind all the lies contained in Irving's biography of Goebbels.

You also were compelled to write, "And, incidentally, [Irving] has never and not once described the Holocaust as a 'hoax'." I guess you weren't aware of Irving's statement in 1990 that, "The holocaust of Germans in Dresden really happened. That of the Jews in the gas chambers of Auschwitz is an invention." Were you?

Well, Hitchens, I know you want to keep shakin' that tail-feather of yours, but it looks like the band's all worn out. The party's over. I sure hope you designated a driver.

I don't necessarily endorse what Max is saying; I've seen Noam Chomsky baselessly smeared too many times to label Hitchens a Holocaust-denier-enabler without looking into it further. And Max criticizes Hitchens, undeservedly in my view, for simply speaking out in favor of the free speech rights of Faurisson and Irving. (The remark about Wagner was killer, though.)

However: what was Hitchens doing having Irving over to his house? It's one thing to stand up for the free speech rights of Holocaust-deniers, and quite another to engage in a discussion with them (since this implicitly legitimates them).

Hitchens' response? He threatens to sue "anyone who thinks of running with" Max's claim.

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