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The Truth in Eli’s Blue Tattoos

David Irving, a British historian, will be in prison for the next three years after claiming for decades the Holocaust did not happen. The Austrian sentencing judge called Irving a “falsifier of history” who had academically challenged the Holocaust research of other scholars. One researcher, Deborah Lipstadt of Emory University, fought back against Irving and won but she feels Irving’s imprisonment will only make him a Free Speech martyr.

When the Western mindset of freedom and Free Speech meets anti-Muslim cartoonists and Holocaust deniers like Irving, there is a strange and dangerous conflation of the radical worst of us becoming memes for a movement. The best evidence for fighting the David Irvings and others who press lies over ugly truths is in the specificity of the body and the revelation of embedded truth that erupts to the surface when crushed into the flesh. When I was a teenager, I worked at a television station as an on-camera movie reviewer.

There was a man who worked in the film department named Eli. Eli was the only person who could take a piece of ruined raw film, fix it, and have it on the air for the evening news in five minutes. Eli was old school. He could fix anything mechanical. The new videotape revolution happening around him held no interest. He was pure celluloid and chemicals and darkrooms. Eli was a “Jew in Nebraska” and that was extremely rare in the 1980’s. He moved to Nebraska after World War II after surviving Auschwitz and surviving Auschwitz was even rarer than a Jew in Nebraska.

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