Witness Statement of Deborah E. Lipstadt: Electronic Edition, by Deborah E. Lipstadt

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Denying the Holocaust as a Work of Scholarship

77.I clearly remember the first time I heard about Holocaust denial. It was in the mid-1970s and I was then teaching at the University of Washington in Seattle. A scholar visiting from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem told a number of professors about the deniers. I laughed aloud at both the absurdity of their so called "conclusions" and at the notion that anyone, who was not ideologically wedded to them, might treat such material with any degree of seriousness. I said something akin to, "Let's worry about something that is important, not such ridiculous matters!". Given the extent to which David Irving's legal action against me has circumscribed my ability to undertake that research which is a substantial part of my professional activity and the way in which one ultimately builds an academic reputation, laughter seems not to have been the appropriate reaction. In any case, it was hardly prescient.
78.My book explores both the history of Holocaust denial and the modus operandi of the deniers. I also analyzed how segments of the public, the media in particular, respond to Holocaust denial. Consequently, in addition to delineating the evolution of the denial movement, I also focused on the means deniers use to "package" their arguments so that the public will perceive them to be serious scholarship. I discovered that over the course of time the modus operandi of deniers has become increasingly subtle. Consequently, it has become more difficult for the lay person to separate the wheat from the chaff, i.e. differentiate between real scholarship -- however radical it may be -- and pseudo-scholarship -- such as Holocaust denial.
79.My intention in this work was to demonstrate how deniers confuse and distort history. I did not wish to refute their findings point by point. Above all, I felt it was essential to expose the illusion of reasoned inquiry that conceals their extremist views.
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accessed 12 March 2013