"Irving has for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence," Justice Gray ruled. "For the same reasons he has portrayed Hitler in an unwarrantedly favorable light." The judge also found Irving to be "an active Holocaust denier, anti-Semitic, racist [who] associates with right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism." Irving says he will appeal the decision.
The verdict not only vindicates Lipstadt's charges against Irving, but also clears the decks for more scholarly discussion about the Holocaust in contemporary social and political discourse. Scholars such as Dr. Peter Novick, for example, have provoked serious debate by suggesting, in a detailed history of the place of the Holocaust in American public life, that memory of the Holocaust has been tailored to suit such agendas as support for Israel against its Mideastern foes. "There's been a movement over the past decade to begin looking very seriously at the ways in which the Holocaust has been 'marketed' and used in support of contemporary political goals," says TIME religion correspondent David Van Biema. "As difficult as that notion may be for some people to engage, it's an important and reasonable topic for discussion. A ruling that excludes Irving from the realm of legitimate historical scholarship creates more space for serious discussion among academics who accept the basic truths of the Holocaust, but who're asking important questions about the ways in which its legacy may be used or misused."