Alabama Atheists group hosts Holocaust denier; DSJV ejected from event

The Montgomery-based Atheist Law Center, which has been very active in battling former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore in recent years, held an event featuring a leading Holocaust denier on July 6.

David Irving, who was described by the center as “an expert on World War Two, the Nazi era and erosion of rights of a free press and free speech” spoke at the event, which was held in a private room in the restaurant at the Holiday Inn in Prattville, just north of Montgomery. About a dozen people were in attendance.

Before the talk began, DSJV editor Larry Brook was asked to leave by Larry Darby, the center’s president, as Irving requested that no media be present. After re-entering the room without camera or notebook and seeking admittance as a private citizen, the request was once again made. Irving then followed Brook into the lobby, and said “do not come back into that room again. I have the right to refuse admission to anyone, and I do not want to see anyone from your organization.”

British-born Irving has written several books minimizing the Holocaust and castigating the Allies for their World War II actions. He has been active with the Institute for Historical Review, which is the leading organization in Holocaust denial in the United States.

In 1996, he sued Deborah Lipstadt for characterizing him in her book, “Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory” as a Holocaust denier who tended to “misstate, misquote, falsify statistics and falsely attribute conclusions to reliable sources.”

He sued in British court in 1996 after the British version came out, three years after the book was first released in the United States. British libel law calls for the defendant to prove a statement’s veracity, unlike American libel law.

In 2000, the British court found against Irving, with the judge – who Irving previously addressed as “Mein Fuhrer” – stating it was “incontrovertible” that Irving was a Holocaust denier, and an anti-Semite as well.

Irving’s topic for the July 6 address – as well as others in Florida later this week – was “The Lipstadt Trial Five Years On: Its Methods and Achievements.” The release from the center says Lipstadt “fought back with money poured in by the usual enemies of Free Speech.”

Darby urged people “to come hear of Irving’s experiences in challenging popular history of the NAZI (sic) era and the Western world’s taboos regarding what has grown into the holocaust industry.”

He also accused the U.S. media of being “self-censoring, by and large unwilling to report criticism of Judaism (the root of all theism), organized Jewry, Israel or U.S. foreign policy regarding the Jewish state.”

Darby continued, “When individuals do find the courage to challenge politically correct notions involving Judaism, they are often met with knee-jerk responses of name-calling, such as “anti-Jew” or “anti-Semitic” or, in the case of Irving, “holocaust denier.” Such vicious personal attacks have an effect of quashing free expression of opinion and free inquiry into a religion or faith-based practices, even when such practices have a bearing on U.S. national security.”

Ford Vox of Birmingham, director of the Universist Movement, stated that his organization “will hereby cease current and future association with Larry Darby and the Atheist Law Center. Unlike the U.S. Constitution, we don’t treat all ideas equally.”

Vox said “Darby’s incessant haranguing of Israel and Jews in his newsletters, now combined with support for Irving of all people, will further marginalize his organization, and rightly so. Let’s hope the stink doesn’t rub off on the rest of us.”

In response, Darby said in his daily newsletter that “rather than throw stones at David Irving, a man who has written 30 or so books on various subjects, I want to hear him for myself. A man that so many otherwise rational people hate so much makes me curious.”

The focus of the evening, Darby asserted, was to discuss the dangers of hate crimes laws to a free society where freedom of expression is valued.

As Alabama director of American Atheists, Darby maintained a very public presence in demonstrations against Moore during the Ten Commandments monument battle. He also attempted to get an additional monument, honoring science and reason, placed by the Ten Commandments monument. Moore turned down the request.

In addition to battling Moore, Darby has written numerous letters to the editor in papers across Alabama on topics relating to Israel. A September 2004 letter to the Crimson White was entitled “Israeli interests dictate U.S. policy” in which he praised Ralph Nader for having “the guts to speak out against the undue influence the pro-Israel lobby has over both Congress and the White House.”

He added that “The revelation that Mossad has spies at the Pentagon passing secrets to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee should be no more surprising than knowledge that the Jewish Mafia influences Democratic Party politics in New Jersey.” That letter appeared in several other papers.

Last month, he wrote the Anniston Star urging an inquiry into the attack on the U.S.S. Liberty during the Six Day War in 1967. Numerous panels have shown the Israeli attack was a case of mistaken identity against a U.S. surveillance ship that had wandered into the war zone, but anti-Israel groups and white supremacist groups use the attack as a way of questioning the U.S.-Israeli alliance.

The Atheist Law Center is described as a “non-member, not-for-profit corporation advocating globally the enlightened concept of absolute separation between religion and governments…. The Center is the only legal advocacy firm in the United States dedicated to attaining complete government neutrality in matters of religion, which includes ending government acts of “ceremonial deism” and other accommodations of religion encroachments against all citizens.”

A decade ago, Irving spoke at the University of Alabama at Huntsville after Robert Countess, a local Holocaust denier, rented a room. That event was open to the media.