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December 10, 2005

Modern-Day Witch-Hunting

Questioning the official version of modern history.

One of the fundamental rights acknowledged by the political theory of Western liberal democracy, and traditionally upheld under the principles of Anglo-Saxon law, is the freedom to express oneself openly, and to disagree with popular views and with what authorities would like one to believe. This is of particular importance in fields of science, history, and other areas of factual research, where truth is served best by the unhindered publication of results and free exchange of information.

British historian David Irving was recently arrested during a one-day visit to Austria on the grounds that two talks which he gave there in 1989 violated a law prohibiting any public questioning of the official version of some aspects of modern history.

Austria is not alone in this. Germany, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands are among other European countries to have enacted such laws. Irving's arrest was part of a wave of related incidents that included the deportations to Germany from the U.S. of the publisher Ernst Zundel and scientist-historian Germar Rudolf (see also: germarrudolf.com/index1.html), both on charges of minor immigration regulation infringements, the arrests of historian Siegfried Verbeke in Amsterdam, and French historian Vincent Reynouard in Belgium. The offense they are all guilty of is simply stating in public what they believe to be true.

Whether one agrees with their position or not is beside the point. Descent to levels of inquisitorial intolerance befitting of medieval witch trials is a disgrace to countries claiming to live by civilized standards and to operate under the rule of law. Authorities don't resort to force and repression to silence what they think is false. Error is most effectively corrected by free debate and open appeal to the facts. They silence what they fear. Such behavior can only invite the question: What do these people know that the world mustn't be allowed to learn?

 
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