Friday, December 12, 2008

From Irving to Doutre


The discussion about New Zealand pre-history at the Scoop Review of Books has ended with a long, self-destructive post by Martin Doutre, chief advocate of the Celtic New Zealand thesis. As Matthew Dentith says in his wrap-up of the debate, 'Martin Doutré has had his last words, and they seem to be `Holocaust Denier'.

The editor of Franklin E Local has been huffing and puffing about my use of the term 'Nazi' to characterise contributors to his magazine like Doutre; I doubt whether he's feeling quite so litigious now.

After noting Doutre's defence of Holocaust deniers like David Irving and Joel Hayward (who, to be fair, has since recanted his views), Matthew makes what I think is a mistaken distinction between the world's most famous neo-Nazi and the author of Ancient Celtic New Zealand :

Of course, the difference between Doutré and someone like Irving is that Irving should (and probably) does know better. Doutré is unqualified and shows a lack of critical thinking skills. Irving was a highly-respected academic whose early works were greatly acclaimed...Doutré does not advance his thesis because he is a cunning and malevolent mastermind trying to undermine the indigenous people of the Pacific. He does it because he knows no better.

I think Matthew's portrait of Irving is in some respects innaccurate. Irving has never studied at a university, and (more importantly) even his early, commercially successful work is tainted by neo-Nazism. The young Irving clearly had some aptitude for archival work and for popularising history, but the fact that he was so successful reflects the strong undercurrent of World War Two revisionism in European society. One of Irving's early 'breaks' was writing for an extreme right publication in Germany, and many of his early supporters were neo-Nazis.

Irving was able to disguise his neo-Nazism for a time by choosing subjects - the bombing of Dresden, for example - which show Hitler's enemies in a poor light. But there was deliberate distortion even in Irving's early work - his book on Dresden, for instance, greatly exagerrated the number of people killed during the fire bombing of the city. This exaggeration went largely unnoticed, because Dresden was undeniably a war crime, and because Kurt Vonnegut had made a similar exaggeration in his acclaimed novel Slaughterhouse Five (Vonnegut's exaggeration was understandable: he lived through the horror of the bombing and was writing as a novelist, not a historian).

When he turned his hand to more wide-ranging accounts of the World War Two period, Irving was unable to disguise his profound sympathy for the Third Reich. Irving's biography of Rommel, which condemned the 1944 plot to take Hitler's life as an act of treachery, disillusioned many reviewers and readers. As he lost the support of academics and mainstream readers, Irving was forced to rely more and more on the largesse of the extreme right to fund his research and his extravagant lifestyle. In return, he was obliged to make ever more strident defences of Hitler and National Socialism.

I think Matthew is also mistaken when he represents Martin Doutre as an essentially apolitical fool, stumbling about the backclocks of New Zealand with his theodolite and his diagrams of stonehenge. As I showed in the open letter which prompted the debate at Scoop Rebiew of Books, Doutre has a history of direct involvement in the One New Zealand Foundation, whose leader uses expressions like 'thank God I'm not a Maori' in his press releases. For reasons which I explained in my letter, Doutre's pseudo-scholarship has been used on the website of the One New Zealand Foundation, and also in the election propaganda of the Nationalist Alliance, the grouping which includes New Zealand's best-known neo-Nazis.

If Doutre were merely a fool, then it wouldn't be so important to criticise his contributions to Franklin E Local. But the man's connections to the racist right make his appearance in a Franklin periodical particularly sinister. In the twentieth century, Franklin was the heartland of organised far right politics in New Zealand: it was in Pukekohe, the commercial centre of the district, that the White Defence League, this country's first serious organised racist group, was founded in the inter-war years, in response to an influx of Indian and Chinese immigrants. The League had prominent supporters throughout Franklin, and it was able to impose a de facto system of segregation in parts of the district. Longtime residents of Franklin can remember how Maori and Asians were banned from sitting upstairs at Pukekohe's movie threatre, and how some of the town's hairdressers refused to serve non-white customers.

In the early 1990s, the New Zealand Defence Movement emerged to carry the banner of anti-Asian and anti-Maori racism. The Movement, which contested the 1993 elections before entering New zealand First en masse in the mid-90s, had its largest concentration of support in Franklin. The librarian at my secondary school was its local candidate; she lived on the edge of Pukekohe. Given all this history, I don't think it is a coincidence that Doutre and his friends managed to foist their articles on the editor of a magazine in Franklin. The confluence of pseudo-scholarship and racist politics is dangerous, which is why I am pleased that Matthew Dentith has done such a good job of countering the Celtic New Zealand thesis over the last few days.

15 Comments:

Blogger HORansome said...

I may well have been too charitable towards Doutré and I've amended my post, after discussion with Paul of the Fundypost, to reflect Irving's position in real life (I suspect that in being just a tad condescending to Doutré I over compensated in my portrayal of Irving, who I do think to be utterly reprehensible).

As to Doutré; I still think he might be a bit unwitting in his support for the neo-Nazi movement (There was a rather interesting interview with Irving a few years ago (and bugger if I can remember where I read it) which had him visibly uncomfortable (to the interviewer) at a neo-Nazi `academic' conference; it was as if the veil had finally lifted from his eyes and he could see what he was. I somewhat hope Doutré will have a moment like that). Given that Doutré, I think, suffers from lumping all underdogs together and also refusing to allow people to criticise his fellow researchers I can imagine a situation where he really isn't fully aware of what agenda he is helping to promote.

Which is not to say that he is not a racist, because he clearly is. He's also clearly a Holocaust Denier and a probable anti-semite. Doutré's agenda is to denigrate the peoples of the Pacific and he supports the works of groups who have similar views. He also is used and cited by members of these groups to advance their agenda, but I think their agenda is even more malign and I'm hesitant to say that Doutré supports it wholeheartedly. I think he figures that the enemies of my enemies must be my friends, which is rarely ever true. I just don't know whether Doutré would slap on some brown shorts and go to a rally. He might.

Which is a long-winded justification why I was being charitable to Doutré in that post. Perhaps too charitable. Actually, far too charitable.

Still, even if my charitable portrait is plausible (and I keep admitting it may not be) it would still be important to criticise the Frank E Local article as it advocates a thesis that is not only false but denigrates the indigenous people of this place, especially since, as you wisely point out, it occurs in a periodical in a place with some pretty nasty segregationist history. Whether or not Doutré is an evil mastermind or a fool, his works should never be allowed to pass unchallenged.

Also, once again, that open letter was superb work. This has been a really useful process to go through.

[Also, the photo of Irving and Doutré seem to be remarkably similar. Has anyone ever seen them in the same room as each other?]

12:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Richard Taylor the author of this website?
http://monkeysmashesheaven.wordpress.com/2008/

1:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God certainly gives you free will to believe what you want - even if it is contrary to His Word. There will be, of course, a day of accounting when you will have to explain to Him your rejection of His Word, but, until then, you can believe whatever you like.

3:50 pm  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

On these pictures is that Irving at the top and then Doutre?

Maps it would help if you could caption the images.

9:22 pm  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

" Anonymous said...

Is Richard Taylor the author of this website?
http://monkeysmashesheaven.wordpress.com/2008/ "

No - but it looks interesting - Mao was in my books the greatest revolutionary leader of the 20th Century. He was great man who was attacked incessantly in his life by CIA sponsored liberals and other anti-communists and fascists - some of them claiming to be Marxists themselves. Nixon the right wing mongrel attacked him then had finally to grovel then shake hands with him when Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Tricky, and others had failed in their efforts "to bomb Vietnam into the stone age"... they knew they had met their match in Vietnam and China...

He is still being misrepresented and wrongly attacked by "bourgeois" such as Chinese Intellectuals who want to go to the US for the good life (or others who want to secure good academic positions in Western nations) and others who read the CIA based or Church-based distortions and other bad writings about him.

9:45 pm  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

BTW this encomium to Mao is offered more as a corrective - despite everything all these "great" leaders turn out to have feet of clay.

Mao's ideas are interesting as are Lenin's but I feel that if any one is to achieve some form of socialism in practice it cannot be based on some fixed ideology or the ideas or "edicts" of a single personality - the change (if desirable or possible at all) needs to involve large numbers of people - it is not done for the benefit of someone such as Lincoln or Churchill or Lenin or Roger Douglas - it needs somehow to be a change that gets (all) people involved so that the corruption or revisionism that follows on "revolutions" is obviated...

Because I am skeptical it can be achieved I wouldn't be bothered to write about Mao or Lenin as on the link given - years ago I was very keen on the achievements of China etc but these days I am skeptical of any progress - but still hopeful! But I am no Roger Fox - I am, a failed element and a Terrorist of the Word!

So Gilroy and Gilchrist - (police anti terror and informers all!) come and get me!

Allah akkba! Boooh! Booom!!!

1:45 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't Vonnegut take his Dresden death toll from Irving's book, mistaking it, as many did early on, for a fair and objective history? That's my memory of it.

3:51 pm  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

Vonnegut may have -but he was actually at Dresden

10:50 am  
Blogger Tim Wikiriwhi said...

Show me where Martin Doutre denies the holocaust or be damned!
From what I have read about Martin Doutres comments regarding Irving all appear to hinge what he calls the 'thought police' and from that angle as a Libertarian I stand 100% behind him even though I don’t deny the Holocaust. Martin dared to objectively appraise Irving’s scholarship as an expert on Hitler. He dared to express his indignation that Irving was jailed for having a personal opinion that differed from officialdom.
He dared to support individuals who challenge the notions of the common herd and for all these things I praise him whole heartedly!
He specks from personal experience as he himself has had to face the same bigotry here in NZ regarding his own studies and theories that Maori were not the indigenous people of NZ.
These are Libertarian Ideals you morons even if you strongly disagree with the content!
So Damn you all for labeling this honest free thinker as a racist and holocaust denier! I share Martins disgust that a scholar has been jailed for having a personal opinion…even if he is a holocaust denier!
Tim Wikiriwhi
Independent Libertarian

6:35 pm  
Blogger maps said...

I think that praising Irving as the foremost historian of the Second World War and defending the Hayward thesis count as Holocaust denial, Tim, since the Hayward thesis was an exercise in Holocaust denial and Irving's writings on the war are loaded with denials of the Holocaust.

Irving is not a serious scholar of the war - he has no training, distorts and invents evidence, refuses to submit his work to academic journals (because, of course, it would be subject to peer review), and nowadays is reduced to publishing with and for neo-Nazis. The neo-Nazism that he used to try feebly to disguise is now quite explicit - last April he posted a tribute to Hitler on the day of the Fuhrer's birthday, for instance.

The question of whether Irving ought to be imprisoned for his Holocaust denial is separate from the question of whether his Holocaust denial is based on scholarship or simple bigotry.

As for Doutre - well...his 'research' makes Irving look like EP Thompson! Good luck helping him prove that fair-skinned Egyptians built Stonehenge and that Te Miringa Karaka marae was built by Celts thousands of years ago!

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9:17 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cheers to Tim for defending free thought & speech, even if one disagrees with it's content. Try asking someone like Badger H Bloomfield for some information if you want to get closer to the truth about the ancient inhabitants of New Zealand. From what I can gather, the 'tools' posting here are only defending their dogma.

3:12 am  
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10:44 am  
Blogger poodag said...

All is typically stupid as we have all been deliberately breed and educated as domesticated/numbered sheep and morons.

History? Truth? Democracy? You are chasing windmills...

History is a bunk... Henry Ford.

The winner writes the history... Napoleon.

Eisenhowers death camps, Stalins rape and liquidation of Germans, Maos sixty million murdered brethren, Jewish influence and control over this worlds affairs and globalism since 1900 a.d.

Hush! Hush! It is verboten!

I have examined in some depth Mr. Doutres work including his uncovering of the final English draft of te tiritiri o Waitangi dated Feb 4th 1840. - The Treaty is a Union, there is No Partnership! Call me a liar? Read the Maori version for yourself you lazy fool! Dont accept what gets shoved down your throat by the entrenched establishment powers that be, fight for your right to the truth!

David Irving got jailed for telling the truth.

The auther of "Reading the Maps" is an obvious hateful devil of the same ilk as Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot etc.. Constant division and hate and change and revolution is their agenda, it is the enemy of mankinds agenda... it is in Marx's words International Socialism... constant division and revolution so that national bonding and unity is forever destroyed.

Welcome to the conspiered and established global machine that no one can escape.

Returning to the valiant Doutre, the guy does not own a dishonest bone within his body. The only thing that this man, Mr. Doutre, is interested in, is, the pure and simple uncomplicated truth.

We need honesty and truth in our history otherwise our foundations to our souls are based upon bunk.....

2:25 am  

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