February 10, 2000
Irving Vs. the Truth
Past racist, anti-Semitic utterances thrown back at revisionist during trial
A racist poem read to a young child has provided the toughest test for a Holocaust revisionist who is suing a U.S. Holocaust scholar and her publisher for libel.
Discussing David Irving's "utterances both in public and private on the subject" of Jews and blacks, Richard Rampton, scholar Deborah Lipstadt's attorney, accused Irving last week of teaching his 9-month-old daughter a "racist ditty" while taking her for a walk.
The senior London lawyer quoted a September 1994 extract from Irving's private journal, which he was obliged to hand over as part of an exchange of documents, where the revisionist referred to a song he had sung when "half-breed children" were wheeled past:
"I am a Baby Aryan / Not Jewish or Sectarian. / I have no plans to marry an / Ape or Rastafarian."
Rampton asked: "Racist, Mr. Irving? Anti-Semitic, Mr. Irving?"
Irving: "I don't think so."
Rampton: "Teaching your little child this kind of poison?"
Irving: "Do you think a 9-month-old can understand ..."
Rampton: "The poor little child is being taught a racist ditty by her perverted racist father."
Irving: "I am not a racist."
The dramatic exchange came midway through the trial of Lipstadt and Penguin Books, who are alleged to have libeled Irving in Lipstadt's 1994 book "Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory."
Irving, 62, who denies that Jews were systematically exterminated at Auschwitz, is claiming that Lipstadt ruined his career by labeling him a Holocaust denier and accusing him of distorting historical data to suit his ideological predilections.
Rampton asked Irving about his 1997 book "A Radical's Diary," in which he attacked Jews for their greed. "They clamor, 'Ours! Ours! Ours!' when hoards of gold are uncovered," wrote Irving. "And then when anti-Semitism increases and the inevitable mindless pogroms occur, they ask with genuine surprise, 'Why us?'"
Irving, who is representing himself, was also asked about a media interview he gave in November 1998 in which he also suggested that Jews' money and greed trigger anti-Semitism.
"The question which would concern me if I was a Jew is not 'Who pulled the trigger,' but 'Why are we disliked? Is it something we are doing?'
"You people," he told his interviewer, "are disliked on a global scale. You have been disliked for 3,000 years, and yet you never seem to ask what is at the root of this dislike," adding that "no sooner do you arrive as a people in a new country than, within 50 years, you are already being disliked all over again."
He added, "I would say that they're a clever race. I would say that as a race they are better at making money than I am. That's a racist remark, of course. But they appear to be better at making money than I am. If I was going to be crude, I would say not only are they better at making money, but they are greedy."
Invited to explain his remarks to the court, Irving said, "In my own clumsy way, I am trying to find out why we don't like them. It's a very coherent expression of the anti-Semitic tragedy. I am putting myself in the skin of a person asking questions about a clever people."
Rampton asked: "Every time there is a pogrom or gassing or machine-gunning into a pit, it is entirely the Jews' fault because some of them are very good at playing the piano and making money?"
Irving: "That's a childish oversimplification."
Rampton also referred to a September 1992 speech in which Irving suggested that leading British television news presenter Sir Trevor McDonald, who is of African-Caribbean origin, should be restricted to "giving us all the latest news about muggings and drug busts" -- but only after a "dinner-jacketed gentleman reads the important news to us, followed by a lady reading all the less important news."
"Are you not appalled by that?" Rampton asked.
"Not in the least," replied Irving.
Irving was reprimanded by the judge after telling Rampton that while he employed "colored people and ethnic minorities," I "haven't seen a single colored person on your team behind you."
At one point, the court was shown a video of Irving addressing a right-wing American organization, the National Alliance, in Tampa, Fla., in October 1995, when he discussed the "legend of the Holocaust."
Irving denied any association with the National Alliance, but Rampton pointed out that he had spoken at their events eight times between 1990 and 1998.
Asked why he had said in his Tampa speech that he found the Holocaust story "boring," Irving replied, "I think 95 percent of the thinking public find the Holocaust boring by now, but don't say it because it's politically incorrect.
"What other explanation is there for the fact that it's all the Jews go on about now? There have been the most incredible episodes in Jewish history, but all you hear of in films and so on is the Holocaust."
Irving, who has suggested that an Auschwitz survivor may have faked her tattooed number, said his comments were not intended to be anti-Semitic, but critical of Jewish survivors who turned "their suffering into profit."
The strain of the bare-knuckle legal slugfest is clearly taking its toll on Irving, prompting both Rampton and Judge Charles Gray to offer an early adjournment at one point, but Irving refused.