Respectful Insolence

Thus far, the first decade of the 21st century not been good to that man who is arguably the world’s most famous Holocaust denier, David Irving.

The decade began its very first year with his crushing defeat in the libel lawsuit he instigated against Holocaust historian Professor Deborah Lipstadt, a defeat so resounding that it accomplished exactly the opposite of what he had intended: It ended with the judge concluding that he was, in fact, an “active” Holocaust denier (not just a Holocaust denier but an active Holocaust denier) Unfortunately, it cost Prof. Lipstadt and supporters a couple of million dollars and a couple of years of her time.

Then, disgraced and technically bankrupt, Irving wandered among the pathetic white supremacists who would still listen to him speak and buy his books, holding the white power ranger equivalent of mutual reach-arounds about how persecuted they are, how misunderstood Hitler was, and how nefarious Jews were. His confidence, such as it was, grew until he overreached and actually agreed to speak to a band of admirers in Austria. Unfortunately for Irving, Austria has very strict laws against glorifying the Nazi regime or denying the Holocaust, and Irving had already had a warrant out for his arrest from the late 1980s for doing just that. Irving was arrested, thrown in jail, and eventually sentenced to three years in prison. I will not reiterate my position in detail about laws in Austria, Germany, and other nations in Europe that outlaw Holocaust denial. Suffice it to say I view them as an abomination, an assault on free speech. But you can’t argue that they made for a bad year for Irving, who spent most of 2006 in an Austrian prison before being released early.

Since then, Irving’s been going back to what he does best: Giving talks to pathetic bands of white power rangers. Unfortunately, his cachet among the white monobrow set has been greatly diminished because during his trial in Austria he “recanted” some of his Holocaust denial, but after his conviction he quickly reverted to form and still manages to attract followers, claiming his recantation was done “under duress.” Most recently, he was seen at the University of Oregon giving a speech to the Pacifica Forum. In general, Irving has been giving speeches that whose attendees are carefully screened through his website and phone system to try to keep anyone from interfering with the neo-Nazi lovefests that they inevitably become. Alternatively, occasionally naive students open-minded to the point of their brains falling out invite him to mainstream venues, such as the Oxford Union, and thereby bring embarrassment upon themselves. Occasionally, he’ll be interviewed by the press and say that Jews should “ask themselves” why they are so hated.

But all that wandering must be tiring for David Irving, don’t you think? All that slinking around to get to his talks and avoid protestors is very draining. Irving could use a home where he could be famous but not have to travel so much. He could use a few months without a major trip. He almost found the solution, too:

Celebrity Big Brother.

Here’s the story:

TV production company Endemol, which makes the reality show Celebrity Big Brother, was condemned this week for inviting Holocaust-denier David Irving to take part in the next series.

Mr Irving states on his website that he received a “top secret provisional invitation” in September asking him to take part in series planned to start on January 2. He was told last Friday that he had not made the final selection.

He met producers for 90 minutes at a Kensington hotel on October 7 and wrote on his website: “They seem very keen, pleased that I am so up front, open and uninhibited. Comes easily to me.”

He also notes that his teenage daughter advised him against accepting, but he told her he was encouraged by the fact that “financially [the programme makers] have made a killing”.

Yes! It’s perfect for him. Where else do washed-up celebrities or celebrity wannabes go in the U.K.? Who else would be perfect to trump up another racism controversy? Too bad we won’t get to see it:

He [Irving] said he was annoyed at the decision not to take him, saying “the fee would have been nice” wondering “who had put the ‘no’ stamp on it”.

Come on, David! Say it! It must have been the Jews! Come on, you know you want to say it! Besides, imagine the possibilities! The producers could include as housemates a couple of Jews. I wonder if there are any celebrities who are Holocaust survivors who might agree to this? See David Irving’s arguments with them over who’s going to clean up the house turn ugly. Imagine the fun!

I’m being facetious, of course. Having Irving on TV every week would have been a very bad idea indeed. It would give him more publicity and revive his fading celebrity status. It might also give him a chance to slip in some of his Holocaust denial on the sly. Given how little so many people know about the Holocaust, it’s easy to plant misinformation. When it comes right down to it, this whole incident looks like a case of a TV producer who had a “what if?” idea that, it quickly became apparent, was a bad idea and David Irving’s tendency to self-aggrandizement and exaggeration. It doesn’t sound as though he were ever seriously considered, but that he was even considered at all does not speak well of the producers of Celebrity Big Brother.

Comments

  1. #1 Badger3k
    November 1, 2008

    Damn, and I was so looking forward to saying “Bigot Brother”. Glad they decided not to go with a really, really stupid idiot, as opposed to the normal idiots they usually pick. I love the smell of ‘Tard in the morning.

  2. #2 TheProbe
    November 1, 2008

    If he was on, it would have been the first show on prime time, non-PBS, without commercial interruption. I cannot see any company spending money on this.

    It may have also been the first reality homicide.

  3. #3 anandmide
    November 1, 2008

    It might be that they never intended to have him in the first place. Big Brother is depressing on a variety of levels, and one of them is the cynicism of its producers and Channel 4 in stirring up ‘controversies’. A couple of years ago the show was censured for racist goings on, which neither the producers nor the channel did anything to prevent – and why should they, when it got everyone watching? This meeting might have been nothing more than a publicity stunt.

  4. #4 sophia8
    November 2, 2008

    It was almost certainly a publicity stunt. Big Brother rating have been sinking badly for the past couple of years – I know people who used to be BB fanatics, who didn’t bother to watch at all this year.
    Last year, BB’s night-time live broadcasts from the BB house drew considerably less viewers than the BBC’s night-time live ‘Springwatch’ broadcasts, which had cameras trained on snoozing birds, prowling nocturnal foxes and owl chicks gulping down mice.

  5. #5 Dr Aust
    November 2, 2008

    I find it difficult to believe that even production company Endomol, whose name is justifiably a byword for utter lack of taste, would have seriously considered putting Irving on the show. Sounds like a “publicity shock balloon” to me.

    Talking of other unashamed admirers of Der Führer, if you don’t follow Austrian / European politics but fancy a laugh it is worth reading this article about the late Austrian ultra-right leader Jörg Haider. Haider died three weeks back in a car crash, drunk, doing 90 mph in a 45 mph zone. This is actually a pretty popular way for middle aged rural Austrian and South German men to check out, but the mixture of Haider’s personality cult and Cage aux Folles style farce / revelations since his death truly defies belief. The phrase we use for this kind of farrago in the UK is “You couldn’t make it up”.

    To bring it back to the preposterous and irrelevant Irving: with friends like the late Herr Haider, who needs enemies?

  6. #6 Aj
    November 2, 2008

    I imagine it’s far more likely that Charlie Brooker or Chris Morris (or both) were behind this than the actual Big Brother production team.

    The people behind BB are crass enough, but there’s no way Irvine would be considered a big enough draw to bother with.

  7. #7 Dr Aust
    November 2, 2008

    It smacks of “attention grabbing shock PR stunt”, although it stretches credulity that even Endomol would consider Irving. I smell media hoax, see Aj’s comment above.

    If you fancy a snigger at a (rather typical) example of the hypocrisy of the sort of ultra-right politicians who share Irving’s enthusiasm for Der Führer, take a look at the farcical revelations following the recent death of Austria’s former neo-Nazi-in-chief Jörg Haider. A good place to start is an article by Kate Connolly of the (British) newspaper The Guardian, which you can find by googling:

    Jorg Haider Kate Connolly Guardian

    [Apologies for double posting, but Orac doesn’t check his spam filters all that often at the w/end and things with URLs in tend to hang up for ages.]

  8. #8 Harry Eagar
    November 2, 2008

    A company called endemall that is making a killing would appeal to a nazi and vice versa?

    There’s a certain logic to that.

  9. #9 DrFrank
    November 3, 2008

    Unfortunately, his cachet among the white monobrow set has been greatly diminished because during his trial in Austria he “recanted” some of his Holocaust denial, but after his conviction he quickly reverted to form and still manages to attract followers, claiming his recantation was done “under duress.”
    I’d have to say that this is probably true. A quick search of the definition of duress returns “Forcing action or inaction against a person’s will.”, and I’d personally say that making a guy who lies for a living tell the truth fits perfectly ;)

  10. #10 Mojo
    November 4, 2008

    Well (speaking of Charlie Brooker), we’ve already got Zombie Big Brother, so why not Hitler Big Brother?

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