There is no doubt that Irving is a very nasty piece of work, but two things have struck me about the whole thing. The first was this morning when he pleaded guilty and said (and hat tip to Jo for this!):
"History is a constantly growing tree - the more you know, the more documents become available, the more you learn, and I have learned a lot since 1989. Yes, there were gas chambers. Millions of Jews died, there is no question. I don’t know the figures. I’m not an expert on the Holocaust."
Well with regards to the last sentence I can certainly agree. He isn't an expert, although ignorance is no defence. How can anyone deny, in the face of overwhelming evidence prior to 1989, the existence of the Holocaust! To believe overwise is to believe in a mass conspiracy and we know how paranoid these holocaust deniers are.
But Irving has to be at best, a total ignoramous and someone who is beneath the abilities of the most amatuer historians, or at worst (and what I and many others are inclined to believe) a dangerous troublemaker with Nazi sympathies.
The other point is that, in the understandable anger over Irving's behaviour, there have been fluffed attempts to totally nail him. I remember when he was interviewed on Channel 4 News after losing his libel action against Deborah Lipstadt and he insisted he wasn't racist and had asians amongst his staff. I wished then, as now, that the interviewer calmly asked whether he had ever employed any black people or Jewish people.
Either way, he has today, in pleading guilty, put himself in the position where, if he doesn't want to be labelled a vicious and racist Nazi sympathiser, he will have to admit to being a total idiot. Either way, he cannot be ever taken seriously as a historian and lecturer, if anyone was silly enough to do so before!
BTW, via the BBC article on this, what Irving's lawyer has said is interesting:
"His lecture happened 17 years ago. He is an English citizen, he doesn't live in Austria, [he is] 68-years-old. He is a historian who is well known. He is not really dangerous, especially in Austria,"
There's something chilling about that last sentence isn't there!