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This article is taken from PN Review 135, Volume 27 Number 1, September - October 2000.

For Whom the Cock Crows Frederic Raphael

The result of the David Irving libel case came, of course, as a relief to anyone whose company a decent person might find endurable. Had the verdict favoured Irving, or been ambiguous, it would have conceded that it was historically plausible, and morally respectable, to argue that Hitler's Germany had not deliberately, and with ideological malice aforethought, murdered millions of Jews. Holocaust denial was revealed as a perverse and calculated dishonesty. To call Irving a sort of malign dadaist is now the kindest thing to be said about him. His claim that Hitler was 'the best friend that the Jews had in the Third Reich' advertises him as (at best) a ghoulish clown, a pseudo-academic Ubu. Dan Jacobson wrote an excellent account (in the TLS) of the trial and of the paranoid megalomania which anti-Semitism both spawns and exemplifies.

As a star taxonomist for the Good Cause, Jacobson cited notre ami Jean-Paul Sartre: 'Anti-Semitism is a free and total choice, a comprehensive attitude that one adopts not only towards Jews but towards men in general, towards history and society; it is at one and the same time a passion and a conception of the world ... it precedes the facts that are supposed to call it forth; it seeks them out in order to nourish itself on them; it must even interpret them in a special way so that they become truly offensive.' Bien joué, Poulou! He speaks for all of us, n'est-ce pas?

Will ...


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