Thursday, March 10, 2005
Ernst Zundel (it's actually Zündel, but I can't be bothered) is inevitably described as the author-publisher of The Hitler We Loved and Why and other hits. He stands out among more mainstream holocaust deniers in that along with the usual fascism he is openly anti-semitic in a full-blown, conspiracy-driven way.
One can no doubt get a flavour of this from a devotee ("Earnest [sic] Zundel is a genius.") posting - apparently with no sense of the ridiculous - on Pravda's english-language forum. Then scroll down to find the start of a satirical piece called "Nazi Sympathizer Denies Continent" (If you can get it to load, the whole thing should be here). Scroll down further and the Zundelist responds in way that makes it clear he doesn't know when he's reading something that's obviously untrue.
Why am I not surprised?
By the way, Zundel also teaches us that UFOs are a Nazi secret weapon deployed from Antartica.
I'll mention his own website too, if only because of the bit that says all updates are "Chronically indexed". They're arranged by date, too.
Anyway, the ruckus is about Zundel's deportation from Canada to his native Germany earlier this Month.
Zundel had previously been imprisoned in Canada for holocaust denial under their "spreading false news" laws. These were a pretty obvious breach of freedom of expression. They were eventually struck down by the courts and Zundel was released.
Later, he left Canada for the US, vowing never to return. He may have been motivated by the way the Human Rights Commission was investigating him at the time.
Those of you who are unfamiliar with Zundel's case may still experience a certain deja vu from here on in.
Having been kicked out of America for not meeting his immigration requirements, he was sent back to Canada, where he applied for refugee status.
However, he was held in pretty-much solitary confinement for some two years while authorities decided whether he was a security risk under their new anti-terrorism laws. Much of the unclassified version of the summary of charges against him has been ridiculed and it's difficult to understand how he - personally - can possibly be a threat to the Canadian state.
See what I mean?
One thing Ahmed Zaoui has over Ernst Zundel is that nobody likes Zundel. Also, as Canadian commentator Rex Murphy has it (quoted on WIkipedia): "If Ernst Zündel is a refugee, Daffy Duck is Albert Einstein." (more of Murphy's Zundel-inspired sarcasm is here).
At any rate, he was found to be deportable and sent to Germany, where he was promptly arrested for Holocaust Denial on the basis of his website. They probably won't have much trouble making that stick.
Zundel's lawyer says they didn't try to challenge the deportation because they were told old Ernst would be bundled on a plane immediately, pending appeal or no.
Now, before I get too riled, the first question is whether, leaving aside the boring old terror-law-abuse-of-due-process, this is actually a freedom of speech issue or not.
The damning Canadian judgment (pdf) maintained that he intended serious violence to result of his work and, despite his professed pacifism, knowingly associated with white supremacists of a streak that could accurately be called terrorist, acting as an idealogue and leader.
This contrasts with a strident J'Accuse from investigative journalist BIll Dumphy. He has done a lot of investigation of Canada's white supremacist movement and clearly dislikes them. And doesn't think it's much of a threat to anyone these days. And that there is "no justice" in the state's summary of facts against Zundel. That Zundel was kicked out of Canada because nobody likes what he says.
Incidentally, all this trouble could have been avoided if the US had just deported Zundel straight to Germany, where he is a citizen, and instead of to Canada, where he isn't. Or if the Canadians had just waited for the refugee process to expel him.
What's the New Zealand link in all this? Well, if Canada really does have a habit of deporting holocaust deniers on trumped-up immigration charges, what does that say about the Canadian immigration charge against David Irving that is our reason for denying him entry to New Zealand?
It would remain an adminstratively convenient method of keeping him out, even if it was dodgy. I don't want him visiting New Zealand more than anyone else, but we should remember that administrative convenience is not the same as right and wrong.
Fortunately. I know of no reason to doubt the soundness of Irving's deportation. Of course, Irving says it was a flagrant miscarriage of justice, but then he's a liar.
While we're on the subject, I may as well note that David Irving hasn't sued us yet.
By 'us' I mean the New Zealand Government rather than Fighting Talk.
But you never know.
It would make his account of events clearer if his site's FAQ on the New Zealand 'controversy' was actually in the form of questions and answers. I'd particularly like to see his response to "What legal grounds did the NZ govt cite in excluding you?" and "You've threatened to give NZ 'the mother of all legal battles' twice now - when's it going to happen?" Any mention of legal action seems to have dropped off the site.
It's possible that, in the right conditions, someone like Zundel could be a threat to a nations social order. Which is to say, I'm not going to argue with the German denial laws just now.
But surely Canada's not in such dire straits, and neither is New Zealand. If Irving had only kept his nose clean, we would have had to let him in. And one day we're going to have to find ways of dealing with our own hating liars that doesn't make martyrs of them.
Remember that they way their beliefs are repressed is actually part of the deniers' argument. Why help them out?
Recently I've been reading The Doubter's Companion. Among many points it makes well is that freedom of speech isn't a luxury so much as a precondition of modern civilisation (the same source reminded me that administration isn't everything).
There's something rather rich about fascists, of all people, complaining about being persecuted as dissidents. And it's not as if these people are models of humanistic values. But defend their rights we must. Because they're not just their rights. They're everybody's.