“Free speech” was the justification wheeled out this week by the Oxford Union for handing over a platform to Nick Griffin, leader of the fascist British National Party (BNP), and David Irving, a convicted Holocaust denier.
The argument from the likes of Liberal Democrat Evan Harris MP – who spoke alongside Irving at Oxford – is that one should “debate” the Nazis to “expose their views”.
Socialist Worker rejects these arguments and is unapologetic in its defence of the position of giving no platform to Nazis.
The BNP is desperate for “respectability” to provide a cover to preach race hatred. They calculate that an appearance at the “prestigious” Oxford Union will lessen the burden of Auschwitz which rightly haunts today’s Nazis.
What is at stake here is not just a matter of words but also of deeds. Inviting fascists into the debating chamber gives them confidence and translates into more attacks by fascists on our streets – attacks on Jewish cemeteries, black homes and Muslim women.
Socialists thrive on debate and discussion. Fascists, in contrast, aim only to destroy democracy. Hitler came to power through constitutional means. Once there, he rapidly moved to abolish every freedom in Germany.
The concentration camps were full of social democrats and liberals who had once argued that the constitution had to be respected and against any efforts to physically prevent Hitler’s clamber to power.
Hitler did not explicitly say he would murder millions of Jews. Instead he merely promised to “cleanse” Germany of all “non-Aryans”.
Nick Griffin similarly promises an “all white” Britain under the BNP. That would require racial laws to define the “non-whites”, restrictions of liberties and the removal of “non-whites” to camps. As in Germany, genocide would flow from such a policy.
The lies spun by Irving and Griffin that the Holocaust never happened are not just about denying history – they also act to sanction similar Hitlerite racial policies today.
The families and relatives of the six million who died in the Holocaust might well ask how anyone can “debate” those who deny the greatest crime of humanity.
The way to effectively defeat the Nazis is not publicity stunts or fake “debates” – it is united mass action, as shown by the hundreds of protesters outside the Oxford Union this week.
A dangerous game
The US is playing a dangerous double game in Lebanon and Palestine.
George Bush is promising “progress” for Palestinian statehood at the upcoming “peace talks”.
These talks are aimed at isolating the elected Hamas government and forcing Palestinians to abandon the right of return to their homeland.
The talks are a prelude to a war on the Palestinian resistance.
In Lebanon, Bush wants to catapult the country back into the dark days of civil war by insisting the next president wages a war on Hizbollah.
He has blocked the compromise candidate agreed by the government and opposition. The presidential palace now lies empty while pro-US militias stock up on arms.
In both countries the US wants to crush any resistance to its plans. It is a dangerous gamble that threatens, once again, to set the region alight.