What’s wrong with David Irving

Writes Michael Shermer on the May 3rd, 2005 edition of the eSkeptic newsletter (titled “Enigma: The Faustian Bargain of David Irving”)

If you really want to silence David Irving, treat him with silence.

I agree with that, up to a point: because the matter with Irving could be interpreted as an issue of freedom of speech, and as such it deserves clarification.

Should people fighting for such a freedom organize what Christopher Hitchens called a Fair Play for Irving Committee?

Maybe not.

And I disagree with Mr Shermer, who in response to the Austrian authorities decision to imprison Irving, recommended to “let David Irving go” in the March 2nd, 2006 eSkeptic newsletter (“Giving the Devil His Due”)

Again to Shermer:

The enigma emerges from the fact that he is, at one and the same time, brilliant and bellicose, deviously clever and devilishly deceptive—a man who “coulda’ been a contenda” but instead morphed into a pretender…it is a great waste of a great talent. How and why did this happen?

In my opinion, Irving’s self-deception began when he entered the Magic Circle [i.e., the surviving former Hitler confidants]. […] Hitler, he explained, “had attracted a garniture of high-level educated people around him. The secretaries were top-flight secretaries. The adjutants were people who had gone through university or through staff college and had risen through their own abilities to the upper levels of the military service.” These Hitler confidants were well-educated and they spoke highly of their Führer. Who was Irving to argue?

As an example just look at the story Dr. Shermer himself reports at the bottom of that same newsletter “Post Script on Irving & the Eichmann Papers”: in which it is explained how Irving found a way to deny the existence of a direct order by Hitler for the Holocaust in face of a very clear phrase written by Adolf Eichmann in his memoirs: "The Führer has ordered the extermination of the Jews"

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to deceive