Monday, 20 January 2020

In a Post-Truth World, How do we Study History-Suzannah Lipscomb-A Reply


In the February issue of History Today, the popular historian Suzannah Lipscomb wrote the article entitled In a Post-Truth World, How do we Study History.  In the opening paragraph, she all but calls the left-wing film director Ken Loach a holocaust denier.

Despite saying that Loach had denied the claim and had answered the charge in  Guardian Lipscomb refused to retract her claim. The fact that the Guardian refused to publish Loach's full reply to his detractors is not mentioned by Lipscomb.

Lipscomb along with 12 other high profile Historians and writers have led a campaign which has accused the Labour Party of being antisemitic and therefore they refused to vote for it during the general election.

Their campaign is fully supported by the Guardian which published a wretched piece by  Jonathan Freedland[1]. In his article, Freedland wrote "It means that a man such as Ken Loach – an artist so sensitive he is capable of making the film I, Daniel Blake – ends up lending a spurious legitimacy to Holocaust denial. Asked to react to a speaker at a Brighton fringe meeting who had said Labour supporters should feel free to debate any topic, including the veracity of the Holocaust – “did it happen or didn’t it happen”, as the BBC interviewer put it – Loach could not give a simple, unequivocal denunciation of Holocaust denial. “I think history is for all of us to discuss. Loach had not been asked whether there should be a discussion of the meaning of the Nazi slaughter of the Jews. He had been asked about the fact of it happening. And on that, he said there should be discussion – the same apparently innocuous formulation routinely advanced by hardcore Holocaust deniers".

Loach sought a reply to this slander but was only given a small section in the Guardian's Comment is Free section. In a further response carried by the letters section of the New York Times, Loach wrote  to the Editor saying ”Howard Jacobson alleges that I defended questioning the Holocaust. I did not and do not. In a confused BBC interview, where question and answer overlapped, my words were twisted to give a meaning contrary to that intended. The Holocaust is as real a historical event as World War II itself and not to be challenged. In Primo Levi's words: “Those who deny Auschwitz would be ready to remake it".[2]

Whether she is conscious or not Lipscomb's comments add to an already growing witch hunt in the service of Britains ruling elite. As Jean Shaouls article points out “the aim of this political destabilization operation has been to prevent an election victory that would take him to Number 10 and to then engineer his subsequent removal. It followed a relentless campaign that started as soon as Corbyn became a leader in 2015 when the Blairites—acting with the Conservative Party, the media, the military and intelligence establishment and the Israel lobby—denounced not only Corbyn’s but all left-wing opposition to Israel's brutal suppression of the Palestinians as anti-Semitic”. The witch-hunt centres on a concerted attempt to equate opposition to Zionism and the colonial policies of the Israeli state with hatred of the Jewish people in general and the infamous and reactionary anti-Semitism of the Nazis in particular.[3]

Lipscomb's concludes her deeply disturbing article attempting to cover up her lazy sleight of hand journalism with a cloak of orthodoxy by attacking the postmodernist’s attempt to deny historical facts. In fact, it is Lipscomb who is playing fast and loose with historical facts. She should retract her comments and History Today should give Loach the right to reply.




















[1] Labour’s denial of antisemitism in its ranks leaves the party in a dark place
Jonathan Freedland- 27 Sep 2017
[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/13/opinion/ken-loach-holocaust-anti-semitism.html
[3] The anti-Semitism accusations against Corbyn: A witch-hunt in the service of imperialism-By Jean Shaoul13 December 2019- https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/12/13/semi-d13.html