Monday, June 11, 2018

Unz, Roberts, and Irving

Author: Andrew E. Mathis
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how Paul Craig Roberts, a former Reagan administration Treasury official, was dancing tantalizingly close to flat-out Holocaust denial. He's back again, now defending the choice of libertarian activist and one-time California gubernatorial candidate Ron Unz to publish David Irving's Hitler's War on his website,, which publishes a variety of libertarian materials, as well as "race realism," anti-Zionist polemics, and other generally far-right materials.

For his own part, Unz is a bit of a cipher. For instance, he is Jewish himself, although we have seen in the cases of Gilad Atzmon, Paul Eisen, and others that being Jewish isn't always a guarantee against anti-Semitism. For a while now, Unz has drawn suspicion for his willingness to publish blatantly anti-Semitic material, although he has generally been able to defend his editorial judgment on the basis of his libertarian leanings. This orientation has generally led to the comments threads at being something of a free for all, as I'd noted in the past. Sergey Romanov has also commented here on Unz's activites in this regard.

The publication of Hitler's War, however, seems to indicate a kind of Rubicon. Along with the book in HTML form, Unz has also published an accompanying essay entitled "The Remarkable Historiography of David Irving." In that essay, Unz muses on his own relative ignorance of WWII historiography before encountering Irving's work and asks, "All his material is massively footnoted, referencing copious documents in numerous official archives, but how could I possibly muster the time or energy to verify them?" He continues, "Rather ironically, an extremely unfortunate turn of events seems to have fully resolved that crucial question."

From here, Unz launches into a short history (as he understands it) of the Lipstadt case as emblematic of, as he calls it, the work of "zealous ethnic-activists" (read: Jews). As he describes the events culminating in the London lawsuit, "This development [i.e., Lipstadt labeling Irving a Holocaust denier] eventually sparked a rancorous lawsuit in 1998, which resulted in a celebrated 2000 libel trial held in British Court." The next paragraph is worth quoting in full:

That legal battle was certainly a David-and-Goliath affair, with wealthy Jewish movie producers and corporate executives providing a huge war-chest of $13 million to Lipstadt’s side, allowing her to fund a veritable army of 40 researchers and legal experts, captained by one of Britain’s most successful Jewish divorce lawyers. By contrast, Irving, being an impecunious historian, was forced to defend himself without benefit of legal counsel.

Well, most importantly here, Irving was not "defending himself"; he had brought the suit himself, against one of the world's largest publishing houses. He had also been stupid enough to do so in the U.K., where the law required him to pay the costs of the defense should he lose. Instead, the way Unz presents it, Big Bad Deborah Lipstadt victimized poor old David Irving, dragging him into a court with her millions of dollars, and bullied him into bankruptcy. Whether Unz knows this is the exactly opposite of what actually happened in Irving v. Lipstadt or is merely ignorant, I can't say, but the necessary conclusions we must draw are, respectively, that Unz is lying for devious purposes or he was so careless as to not familiarize himself with the merest details of the case.

This lying by omission or frankly catastrophic ignorance carries over to his treatment of the findings in the case. Unz writes, "[T]he worst they discovered after reading every page of the many linear meters of Irving’s personal diaries was that he had once composed a short 'racially insensitive' ditty for his infant daughter, a trivial item which they naturally then trumpeted as proof that he was a 'racist.'" He draws this conclusion, it seems, on reading (perhaps) Lipstadt's own version of events in her book History on Trial, rather than the book distilled from the expert testimony of Richard Evans (Lying About Hitler), who was the primary historian-witness at the Lipstadt trial refuting both Irving's version of historical events and his historical methods. Evans's book details how Irving systematically misrepresented primary sources or ignored them altogether as part of an overall project to exculpate Hitler for crimes, misdeeds, and mistakes.

Finally, Unz tells us that, adding insult to injury, Irving was jailed in Austria after being convicted of denying the Holocaust there on a trip in 2005. I commented on this turn of events at the time, and I remain convinced of the opinion I expressed then. That point notwithstanding, it's clear that Unz has published Hitler's War at least in part in admiration for Irving's free speech battles -- as he understands them. The conclusions we must draw are clear: Unz is either actively shilling for Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism now or is a useful idiot contributing to their cause.

What about Roberts? His defense of Unz is both more amusing in its blunders and more consistent with his previous pieces. Here is Roberts's version of events:

Zionists destroyed David Irving’s livelihood with slander and libel, because he made public a letter from the former chancellor of Germany, Hitler’s predecessor, to Winston Churchill, a letter that Irving found in the American publisher’s file of Winston Churchill’s history of the war, and which the publisher prevented Churchill from publishing in his history. The former chancellor of Germany, who escaped the Nazis and lived in England, wrote to Churchill that two of Hitler’s financiers were Jews who managed two of the largest banks in Germany. One was a Zionist leader. The letter exists, and there is no reason to doubt its honesty. However, for making an important historical document public, Irving was labeled by a vicious propaganda campaign an “anti-semite” and “holocaust denier.”

Putting aside the fact that the charge of libel was disproved in court, the story of the former German chancellor (here he refers to Heinrich Brüning, the second-to-last chancellor before Hitler) is one I hadn't heard before. The lack of dates provided by Roberts makes it difficult to discern the particulars of the story of Irving being destroyed for daring to publish this letter, although it is possible, I suppose, that Irving was first to locate this information. I do, however, also note that Irving has published the letter in question at his site, and he makes no mention in doing so that he suffered any consequences regarding the letter. I know enough about David Irving to know that no opportunity to bemoan his own persecution would go unexploited.

Roberts continues

Another Irving honesty, the one that destroyed him, was that after 10 years of research he could not find one document that provided evidence for the claim that Hitler personally conducted the holocaust or that he even knew about it. Irving did find and report documents that he made available in which Hitler issues orders prohibiting extermination of Jews.

I've already written extensively on one of these pieces of evidence. Roberts as least has the sense (or lacks knowledge) to avoid referring explicitly to the Lipstadt case. He also, like Unz, does not state his own particular set of beliefs about these matters. Both men are apparently still too attached to whatever support, monetary or otherwise, that they receive from people who disdain Holocaust denial to plainly state what they seem to be strongly suggesting is their point of view.

Therefore, I invite Messrs. Unz and Roberts to clearly state their own points of view. They live in a country where they cannot be punished for doing so. Rather than coy dancing around the point, let them be the brave defenders of history and truth as they apparently see them. Then, let them defend those points of view in discussion and debate.

1 comment:

Okiku Saji said...

Unz seems to have consistently zigzagged in regards to his position on race and intelligence. A few years ago, he was saying that the debate was settled - that there was not a correlation. But now he's saying there is a correlation, going against scientific consensus. Will he make up his mind, for G-d's sake?