Even ludicrous ideas deserve right to be heard

By Freedom Newspapers

Iran’s anti-Semitism made prominent news again with the nation’s hosting of a conference held to challenge whether the Holocaust actually occurred.

It’s easy for Americans to see this circus for what it is, given that our nation’s most notable representative for the conference was former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

Iran’s president has called for Israel’s destruction, so his motives are a bit contradictory. He doesn’t believe the Holocaust has occurred, but apparently he’d like to start one?

Some may wonder why these efforts to deny the Holocaust even occur. There are a number of historical accounts and eyewitness testimonies of the horrors the Jews and others faced in Nazi prison camps.

But time passes, and each year death claims more and more of these witnesses. Within 30 years, there will likely be no survivors left, nobody who will respond to these anti-Semitic groups with their personal accounts of Nazi torture.

The goal of these efforts is to paint Jews as liars or exaggerators in an effort to turn public opinion against Israel. Holocaust deniers have been targeting college newspapers for advertisements for the last decade for a reason: College students (of the traditional age) weren’t even alive during the time of World War II. They don’t have the connection to this important piece of world history. It’s a lot easier to convince people that a piece of history never happened when they weren’t around to witness or experience any part of it.

Unfortunately, some European nations have chosen to respond in a way that makes the situation worse. As Duke pointed out in an Associated Press story, “In Europe, you can freely question, ridicule or deny Jesus Christ. The same is true for the Prophet Muhammed, and nothing will happen to you. But offer a single question of the smallest part of the Holocaust, and you face prison.”

In Germany, Austria and France it’s against the law to deny the existence of the Holocaust, a violation of free speech that wouldn’t be permitted in America.

When people are free to say and believe what they choose, they may believe and say stupid things, such as denying the Holocaust. And we are free to respond as we choose, such as calling such beliefs stupid and explaining why. Thus, the open debate assures that arguments are analyzed and picked over and accepted or rejected.

When debate is denied by law, forbidden ideas blossom and grow in dark and disturbing ways, and they aren’t countered because they aren’t to be discussed. Furthermore, it creates victims and martyrs out of people because of what they choose to say or believe, which defeats the lessons of the Holocaust.