I hope you’ve washed the slime off, University of Oregon

I don’t know what’s going on here, but the University of Oregon got slimed last night. A truly odious little being slithered his way into the University grounds and left a stench that won’t soon dissipate.

Sadly, David Irving, notorious Holocaust “revisionist” (translation: Holocaust denier) gave a talk last night at the University of Oregon. True, he wasn’t invited by the university, but thanks to the fact that the founder of ultra-right wing Pacifica Forum is a retired UO professor and that retired professors can invite speakers to university facilities, David Irving spoke last night:

Irving, who specializes in World War II history, will speak Monday before the Pacifica Forum, a local discussion group founded by retired University of Oregon professor Orval Etter.

To Etter and other Pacifica Forum organizers, Irving is a “free speech martyr” who was imprisoned for his views.

But to others, Irving and his controversial statements provide dangerous fodder for right-wing extremists.

Quoth the university:

The university washed its hands of responsibility for the event, saying that it wasn’t sponsoring Irving’s speech and was only serving as a venue. Orval Etter, one of the event’s organizers and a former professor at the university, has the authority to reserve a room free of charge.

“The Pacifica Forum is not affiliated with the university — the space is being used under a campus policy that allows retired professors to rent rooms on campus,” said Julie Brown, director of media relations at the University.

Brown said the school would not seek to block Irving’s presence because it has a policy of respecting freedom of speech for all groups.

“The university is really committed to freedom of speech and wanting to make sure that there is a place for groups to be able to express their viewpoints,” she said.

So what did Irving speak about? Try to keep your lunch down, but this was the title of his talk:

Political Imprisonment in Modern Europe

Now, I’ve spoken out as much as anyone against European laws against Holocaust denial and stated that I thought Irving’s imprisonment was an affront to free speech. However, it should be remembered that he knew there was a warrant for his arrest for charges of denying the Holocaust, but he went to Austria anyway, arrogantly confident that nothing would happen to him and then whining pathetically and trying to backtrack from his previous statements denying the Holocaust when he faced with jail. Then he went right back to his usual Holocaust denial after he was released and back in Britain. Whatever David Irving is, free speech martyr he ain’t.

If you really want to risk nausea, check out a news report from a local TV station and see David Irving pontificate about how he’s a “real” historian who wants to find out what “really” happened. The part where he says he “goes one level deeper” and does “profound research” is particularly hilarious. He then once again pulls his favorite “Hitler didn’t know” gambit about the Holocaust. What really bothered me is how the reporter said that Irving’s view has “strong support” and then interviewed a wingnut named Dawn Coslow, who goes on about how Irving’s view is “different than that prescribed set of dogma” but who’s also been quoted as saying:

Coslow said she’s disappointed in the protesters because they haven’t taken the time to learn about Irving and his views on the Holocaust. The Holocaust denier label attached to Irving is “code for ‘don’t listen to these people’ ” because they are bigots or racists, she said.

The term Holocaust denier is “used to rally the troops, who don’t do the research and show up like lemmings,” Coslow said. “They are the bigots.”

No, the term “Holocaust denier” is used to describe Holocaust deniers, which is what David Irving is. A British court even ruled as much, and David Irving has said things that lead to that inescapable conclusion:

“I don’t see any reason to be tasteful about Auschwitz. It’s baloney, it’s a legend. Once we admit the fact that it was a brutal slave labour camp and large numbers of people did die, as large numbers of innocent people died elsewhere in the war, why believe the rest of the baloney?” Irving said.

He added, “I say quite tastelessly, in fact, that more women died on the back seat of Edward Kennedy’s car at Chappaquiddick than ever died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz.”

What was that about Irving not being a “Holocaust denier”?

I realize that the University handled the situation probably about as well as it could be handled, given its policy of allowing faculty and retired faculty to use its facilities for virtually any sort of speaker. Even so, it’s going to take a long time for UO to wash the scum off.

Now if we could only get the media to stop referring to Irving as a “historian.”