Thursday, January 5, 2012

On the Armenian Genocide and speaking the truth.

Bernard-Henry Levy's reasoned article on the recent passing by the French National Assembly of a law penalising denial of the Armenian genocide by the government of Turkey and its agencies from the 1890s through to the early 1920s is a timely reminder of the place of law in defending history.  Denialists in all their forms seek to create a new story using parts of an authentic narrative blended with elements from their own world-views.  In order to legitimate their version of history they must de-legitimise the truth as told by others. 

In short, denialists are liars. 

One of the roles of law is to protect truth - this is why we have courts where opposing sides can tell their stories and where a judgement can be made as to the truthfulness of one over the other.  Evidence, fact, reason and logic all play their part.  Ultimately, what destroys the denialist is their own story.  Under scrutiny, their "story" is exposed as a fabrication of half-truths disguised as facts, as a collection of convenient facts that just as conveniently leave out inconvenient facts. 

We witnessed this in the Deborah Lipstadt case against David Irving, who was named by the presiding judge as an antisemite and a racist.

Levy's article also challenges those who seek to revise history from noble aims without allowing this historical processes to complete their tasks.  I have found this in my own work on Pius XII.  The slow process of examining the data on and about Pius is often hampered by well meaning but misguided and misinformed people who believe they are doing a service by proclaiming to the world the Pius XII is a saint, who saved more Jews than anyone else, who deserves to be named as one of the Righteous by Yad Vashem etc.  Those who disagree are labelled all sorts of things, chief among them being "liberal Catholics who have an agenda against John Paul II and Benedict XVI"!

Levy's article speaks with reason and much common sense.  The comments that follow are interesting for the truth in the adage, "There are none so blind as those who will not see".

Bernard Henry Levy

On the Armenian Genocide:
The Response of a Handful of Historians

Are these people really incapable of comprehending? Or are they just pretending not to understand?


The law whose purpose is to penalize negationist revisionism, voted before Christmas by the French parliament, does not propose to write history in the place of historians. And this for the simple reason that this history has been told and written, well written, for a long time. This we have always known: that, beginning in 1915, the Armenians were the victims of a methodic attempt at annihilation. A wealth of literature has been devoted to the subject, based in particular upon the confessions offered by the Turkish criminals themselves, starting with Hoca Ilyas Sami, almost immediately after the fact. From Yehuda Bauer to Raul Hilberg, from researchers at Yad Vashem to Yves Ternon

Read the rest of the article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bernardhenri-levy/on-the-armenian-genocide-_b_1181758.html?ref=green



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