London, April 21, 2000
BROODING on the case of David Irving, I found myself admiring (it is not yet illegal, I think, to say this) his prodigious self-confidence and his heroic folly. He must have known perfectly well from the outset that he could not win his case against such odds. It would have been to defy one of the most powerful of contemporary taboos.
However villainous Irving may be, his villainy is not the issue here. The issue is the right of historians to examine and interpret all those innumerable events that have come to be known collectively as "the Holocaust" as freely as they would examine and interpret any other historical events; that is, the right of historians, including Irving, to carry out historical research and publish the results, without being tied to a foregone conclusion.
Moreover, however unacceptable Irving's opinions may be, it is a strange sort of country that can consign him to outer darkness while conferring the Order of Merit on another historian, the Marxist Eric Hobsbawm, an only partly and unwillingly repentant apologist for the Soviet Union, a system of tyranny whose victims far outnumbered those of Nazi Germany.