Photograph by David Levene for the Guardian
ON DONALD TRUMP
Friday 12 August 2016 15.00 BST
Last December, Donald Trump claimed that President Obama planned to let 200,000 Syrian refugees into the US in 2016. Obama promised that he had no such plan. Trump’s response was to say it didn’t matter what Obama said, because he still believed his own figure, and what’s more, so did his Twitter followers. The true figure, thus far, is about 2,800.
It’s to nail this kind of argument that I’ve written the screenplay for a film, Denial, to be released in the US next month. It’s based on Deborah Lipstadt’s excellent book History on Trial – an account of the legal action brought against her in the high court by David Irving for calling him a Holocaust denier. People on the internet like to claim that everything is a matter of opinion and all opinions are equally valid. But they’re not. It’s pseudo-democratic bullshit. As Lipstadt says in our film, “The icecaps are melting. And Elvis is dead.” Opinions backed up by fact have more value than those that aren’t. There are not two available points of view about whether the Holocaust happened. There is something called historical truth.
Trump is not post-factual. He’s non-factual. So is David Irving. Reasserting the principle that freedom of speech does not include the freedom to falsify unchecked seems timely.
• David Hare is a playwright and screenwriter. His forthcoming film is Denial.