3501) Book Review: Outlawing Genocide Denial: The Dilemmas of Official Historical Truth by Guenter Lewy

Review By Tom Williams

In “Outlawing Genocide Denial: The Dilemmas of Official Historical Truth” (University of Utah Press) historian and political scientist Guenter Lewy scrutinizes the practice of criminalizing the expression of unpopular, even odious historical interpretations, exemplified by genocide denial. Holocaust denial can be viewed as another form of hatred against the Jews and preventing it can be understood as a form of warding off hate speech. Germany has made it a crime punishable by law. Other European countries have similar laws. While the rationale for such laws seems reasonable, Lewy asks us to carefully consider the dangers that these laws could present. His discussion neither dismisses the ramifications of genocide denial nor justifies it: he instead looks closely at the possible risks of government-enforced interpretations of history. He says that allowing governments to dictate historical truth and how events should be interpreted can be counterproductive in democratic societies which value freedom of speech
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Listen (50:27) . . .

Lewy investigates examples of Holocaust denial laws not only in Germany but Austria and France; examines cases in Switzerland, Canada, the United States, and international bodies; probes the criminalization of the denial or affirmation of the Armenian Genocide; and looks at state-mandated genocide education.

Guenter Lewy is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His books include “The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany;” The Nazi Persecution of Gypsies;” The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide;” and “Essays on Genocide and Human Intervention.”

The usual diatribe Turks love to use to hide behind a crime only to be surpassed by the Nazi crime of Holocaust a few decades later: Outlawing genocide denial hinders freedom of expression......should be read: Turks use "freedom of expression" as a tool to lie and falsify history and perpetuate anti-Armenian hatred. It is particularly farcical to read about Guenter Lewy, a so-called historian, long regarded as Ankara's point man in its denial campaign, who seems "worried" that outlawing genocide denial could result in "possible risks of government-enforced interpretations of history" when his patrons, the Turkish government, have been enforcing upon their citizens a ridiculously fabricated and falsified historiography on the subject of the Armenian Genocide for decades now. Lewy's crocodile tears about threats to freedom of speech and his investigations into this subject is yet another attempt to come to the rescue of a long-discredited Turkish policy of denial of the Armenian Genocide on the eve of the centenary of the this crime against humanity. His work will surely be welcomed by Turkey and Turks and will surely be dismissed by scholars world-wide, as was the case with his earlier attempt of genocide-denying "master"piece; "The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide", a work that was hailed by Turks, laughed at and summarily dismissed by international scholars. Another often heard lie that the European Court of Human Rights has established that the "events" of the 1915 cannot be proven as genocide is a sad display of Turkish wishful thinking. No such thing was "established" at the European Court. They merely expressed a need for clarification and it was delivered in the form of an opinion, and subsequently, and correctly, they declared that it is not within their jurisdiction to rule on the issue of genocide. The Court pointed out that "this case is not about the legal, historical or political recognition of the existence of the Armenian genocide, but only about the necessity of the criminal conviction of Perinçek by the Swiss authorities because of the content of certain speeches Perinçek held in Switzerland. It is certainly not up to the European Court to decide this (Armenian Genocide) issue" This declaration is far from "establishing" anything about the factuality (or not) of the Armenian genocide. No matter, truth or reality is unimportant to Turks who are predisposed to hatred against the Armenians, they will continue spreading the lie that the European Court has ruled....that the Armenian Genocide did not happen, and they desperately need freedom of speech (something denied to those who talk about the truth of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey) to propagate such lies. It would be better if the attention is given to truly fight for real freedoms of speech in Turkey, fight for academic freedom, and freedom for journalists to pen their honest opinions and not be scared of government persecution, instead journalists are reduced to auto-censuring themselves to stay employed...and alive.

Ergun Kirlikovali
I am looking forward to buying and reading Lewy's book. With the December 17, 2013 verdict on “Perincek vs Switzerland” by the European Courts of Human Rights, it is established that the events of 1915 cannot be proven to be genocide and cannot be compared to Jewish Holocaust. What’s more, silencing contra-genocide views is a direct violation of the freedom of speech. With this remarkable milestone of a court verdict, the Turkish side of the story, long dismissed, ignored, and/or censored, will now finally be heard. Armenian insurgency, terrorism, treason, territorial demands, and the resulting Muslim, mostly Turkish, suffering and losses will be included in the debate for a balanced and fair treatment of the Turkish-Armenian conflict. All this can be expected to lead to civilized dialogue and reasoned debate which, in turn, may finally produce closure based on the concepts of “shared responsibility,” “shared pain,” and “fair memory”. If civilized debate is allowed in earnest, then it will be seen that it was a truly complex human tragedy engulfing all the people of the era and area, not just Armenians. Furthermore, Armenian complicity in this tragedy, Armenian war crimes and hate crimes can no longer be swept under the rug (see, for example,http://www.ethocide.com for a photo of the well-trained, well-armed Armenian military academy cadets posing with their Russian-made Mosin weapons as far back as 1906, flying in the face of the rhetoric drilled into our brains: “poor,starving, unarmed, loyal Armenians cut down by blood-thirsty Turks for no reason on one 1915 morning”. ) the "alleged" Armenian genocide is a long-discredited political claim; not a court-proven historical fact like the Jewish Holocaust. AG has no court verdict backing the claim, whereas the Holocaust has Nuremberg verdict solidly backing it up. How can they be allowed to enjoy the same legal status? Armenians took up arms against their own government during WWI, terrorized the Anatolian countryside, killed their Muslim neighbors and fellow Ottoman citizens, handed over the Ottoman city of Van that they had cleansed of Muslims to the invading Russian commander, and more. The Jews committed no such crimes during WWII. How can they enjoy the same legal status? So called "denial laws" of Europe was created to preserve the judgment and memory of the Jewish Holocaust; Armenian lobby is latching on to it illegally to establish "credibility by association." Are we then going the be silent in the face of such an enoumous fraud? History should not be legislated; it should be scholarly researched and truthfully, civilly, and openly debated. History should not be a tool for mass-propaganda, but a way to reach the truth.




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