I don’t think I knew that Christopher Hitchens was a defender of David Irving, even after Irving failed in his attempt to censor the historian Deborah Lipstadt by suing her for libel. That’s all the more revolting since the reason Irving failed is because the historian Richard Evans demonstrated that Irving had systematically falsified evidence in his books. Irving wrote “history” that was a tissue of lies. No responsible intellectual should defend that.
An “antifascist, otherwise known as Soupy” I encountered on Twitter, @InTheSoupAgain, alerted me to this, and since I don’t think I knew it and I think it matters, I feel obliged to point it out.
Hitchens wrote a piece on the subject for the Wall Street Journal in 2006, six years after the libel trial, apparently still blithely unaware that Irving had faked his evidence. The soupy one publishes it in a blog post:
Now may I mince a word or two? I have been writing in defense of Mr. Irving for several years. When St. Martin’s Press canceled its contract to print his edition of the Goebbels diaries, which it did out of fear of reprisal, I complained loudly and was rewarded by an honest statement from the relevant editor — Thomas Mallon — that his decision had been a “profile in prudence.” I will not take refuge in the claim that I was only defending Mr. Irving’s right to free speech. I was also defending his right to free inquiry. You may have to spend time on some grim and Gothic Web sites to find this out, but he is in fact not a “denier,” but a revisionist, and much-hated by the full-dress “denial” faction. The pages on Goebbels, as in his books on Dresden, Churchill and Hitler, contain some highly important and damning findings from his work in the archives of the Third Reich.
That’s pathetic. Apologies for speaking ill of the dead and all that, but really. Irving’s findings from his “work” in the archives of the Third Reich were riddled with alterations. You can’t trust a word Irving wrote because he falsified. His “work” is entirely worthless, and very dangerous if it is read and believed, because it’s falsified.
It’s really rather disgraceful that Hitchens apparently didn’t know that when he wrote that sentence about the “highly important and damning findings.”