Protest ends Holocaust 'lecture'
BY JIM REDDEN
Dozens of protesters forced controversial British historian David Irving to cut short a talk on the Holocaust in Vancouver, Wash., on Saturday evening.
Irving, the author of numerous books and articles on World War II, has been banned from Canada, Australia and several European countries for arguing that Adolph Hitler did not have a master plan for killing Jews in homicidal gas chambers.
No one was arrested or hurt in the demonstration, which started about 30 minutes after Irving began explaining his claims to a small crowd in the banquet room at the Salmon Creek Brewery & Pub in downtown Vancouver.
Irving stopped speaking briefly as the protesters marched outside the restaurant, chanting anti-racist slogans and waving placards saying that the Holocaust is a historical fact. Vancouver police quickly showed up and made the protesters clear the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.
Owner Anna Pratt was shocked by the commotion. She did not know that Irving was controversial and said the restaurant had been reserved for a "history lecture."
Irving resumed speaking after the police arrived and was concluding his address when Pratt asked him and the others to leave.
"My other customers are leaving," Pratt said. "This is not good."
Police kept the protesters away from Irving and the others as they left the restaurant about 9:30 p.m. Some protesters took pictures of the people who left and wrote down the license plate numbers on their cars.
Although Irving spoke for more than an hour, Portland protester Michael Brassell called the demonstration a success.
"Any time fascists show up, they are going to know they are not welcome here," said Brassell, who described himself as an anti-racist organizer.
Irving did not appear bothered by the disturbance. "Nothing happened here tonight," he said as the people filed out of the restaurant.
Some of those who left complained that the protesters violated Irving's free-speech rights.
"Terrorism works," said one young woman who declined to give her name.
Earlier in the evening, Irving mingled with the crowd of approximately 50 people who had come to see him. He chatted about World War II trivia and sold copies of his books from a display table in the back of the room.
Irving's appearance is part of a 12-city speaking tour scheduled to conclude May 24 in Salt Lake City.
He has made numerous national speaking tours in the past, appearing in the Portland area on three previous occasions.
Buck Boomhauser, a Vancouver resident, organized the appearance.
"Real history is not the same as what you get in school," Boomhauser said.
During his talk, Irving said there is no proof that Hitler ever approved a "final solution" to kill all of Europe's Jews. Although Irving acknowledged that a great many Jews died at the hands of the Nazis, he said that most perished of overwork, malnutrition and disease in work camps.
Brassell called Irving a liar who provides intellectual cover for white supremacists.
"He uses academia to justify the beliefs of people who attack people because they're a minority," Brassell said.