Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Austrian Pol Condemns Holocaust Denial Law

Barbara Rosenkranz, who is married to a leading rightist and who has criticised Austria's laws against Holocaust denial has won the nomination of the Austrian Freedom Party, a leading right wing party in Austria formerly headed by Jorg Haider. Jews in Austria are concerned at the possibility of Rosenkranz becoming President of Austria. In Austria, the position of President is largely ceremonial, although the position commands considerable respect and influence.

Rosenkranz is actually sympathetic to the opinions and positions of Holocaust deniers. Google News reports as follows on the Rosenkranz candidacy.

"Barbara Rosenkranz, 51, is not expected to win the April 25 election, despite her endorsement from the owner of Austria's most widely read newspaper, the Kronen Zeitung.

But she is likely to lead a campaign against popular President Heinz Fischer laced with the anti-foreigner and anti-European Union rhetoric her far-right Freedom Party generates.

She is most widely known for her belief that Austria's law banning the glorification of the Nazis is a hindrance to freedom of expression and violates the country's constitution. In the same vein, she also has defended doubts over Nazi gas chambers."

There are those who oppose laws against Holocaust denial because they believe in it and want to propagate their beliefs. Some are quite open about this. Quite often, Holocaust deniers want to delegitimise the State of Israel, and attack the historical record of the Holocaust that has become accepted.

There are others who are concerned about legal precedent. When someone compares opposition to global warming theory to Holocaust denial, this can easily be construed as calling for a ban to opposition to global warming. The Ukrainian government wants to pass laws against denying that the Ukrainian forced famine genocide of 1932-1933 happened. Global warming is widely discredited. The Ukrainian genocide is established fact. Global warming theorists are afraid of open debate. Those who honour the memory of the millions of victims of Ukraine's Holodomar , which is translated as" murder by famine" have the facts of history on their side.

To pass laws against Holocaust denial or any sort of dissent from accepted history makes the historical mainstream seem insecure and paranoid. It feeds an unjustified suspicion that truth is being suppressed and lends credence to people who try to pass propaganda off as history. Holocaust deniers claim that far less than six million Jews died in World War Two. There are others who claim that the actual death toll may be higher. The Times of London reports as follows on the work of Father Patrick Desbois, a Catholic priest who has found killing fields that had not been included in prior death reports from the Ukraine.

After a five-year investigation he had received a shocking insight into the mechanics of genocide — and strong indications that historians may have to raise their estimate of how many Jews were killed.

Working with a ballistics expert, the 53-year-old French priest dug up the mass graves of Ukraine.

“Every village was a crime scene,” he says, “and each case was different because the heads of the killing squads had to take in all the different factors — the geography, the transport available, the proximity of partisans — before organising the most efficient massacre.”

As his work in the Nazi killing fields continues, he is convinced that the figure for the number of Jewish dead will have to be revised upwards.

“Surely at the end of it all the numbers will be larger,” Father Desbois said, “but we are still inspecting sites in Belarus and there is the vastness of Russia ahead of us.”

The term "historical revisionist" used to refer to those who challenged accepted history by bringing newly discovered information to light.According to this definition, Father Desbois is a revisionist. Any student of history would welcome the input of those with new information on a field of study. Those who pass themselves off as "holocaust revisionists" cheapen the term by presenting propaganda as scholarship. Passing laws against them publishing and airing their views lends them a dignity that they do not deserve What is even worse is that it establishes a legal precedent for banning other opinions deemed heretical by those in power.

I am disgusted by Holocaust revisionists. But the antidote to their lies is truth. In defending their right to speak without fear of imprisonment, I am defending others who may fall afoul of those in power with a version of history and established fact that is not politically convenient.

There is a debate in Washington about whether or not to pass a resolution condemning the Armenian genocide. The Turkish government is concerned that the massacre of 1 1/2 million Armenians out of 2 1/2 million Armenians living in the Turkish Empire will be labeled as genocide. They are threatening repercussions if Congress passes the resolution. The New York Times reports as follows on the dispute.

"As members of a House committee prepared to vote yet again on a resolution condemning as genocide the mass killing of Armenians starting in 1915, both Armenian supporters of the resolution and Turkish opponents said Wednesday that the ground had shifted since the last such vote, primarily because of President Barack Obama.

Turkey, the successor state to the Ottoman Empire, has campaigned vigorously against the resolution, which states that “the Armenian genocide was conceived and carried out by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923” and resulted in 1.5 million deaths.

Turkish groups took out a full-page ad in The Washington Post on Wednesday, while eight members of the Turkish Parliament spread out across Capitol Hill to argue that the deaths were a tragic but unplanned effect of World War I, and not genocide. "

In Turkey the murder of a million and a half Armenians is presented as a part of a war that was raging at the time. Evidence is presented of Turks who were killed by Armenians. An example of this version of history is found in a letter by Sevgi Artan and Cagri Savran to The Tech, the MIT student newspaper. They write as follows.

"In the years leading up to World War I, however, the Ottoman Empire grew increasingly weak, and provinces began to secede. When World War I began, the Ottomans sided with the Germans, and the German defeat left the Ottomans in shambles. Under the Treaty of Sevres, the Allies conspired to use the nationalist tendencies within the Ottoman Empire to destroy it. Under Sevres, the Turkish people would have no nation, and Anatolia would be colonized by Europe. Thus, the Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire, including the Armenians, were encourage to rebel, and were given ample support to do so. Vartanian’s assertion that Armenians were unarmed is a joke.

Armenians joined with the Russian forces, and grouped into guerrilla bands. They began attacking the Turkish Army in the rear, and even before the Russo-Armenian forces arrived, they succeeded in capturing Van, massacred its entire Muslim population, and razed the entire city. They then proceeded to “soften up” the area, and in the process killed thousands of Turks and Kurds. There was a massive flow of refugees into Central Anatolia, who survived under extremely harsh conditions."

I am neither Armenian nor Turkish. I have known both Armenians and Turks as neighbours and friends. The Turks took in Jews after the Spanish Inquisition. I feel a debt of eternal gratitude for that. America has many minorities who live side by side in the USA who would be at war overseas. Along with different language, music and art comes conflicting historical narratives. I want Armenian scholars to present their case in peace on American soil. I also want to hear from Turkish scholars as well. If there is any place where an honest rendering of Turkish and Armenian history can take place, it will be on American soil.

History should not be subject to legal bans. If someone feels that the historical record needs to be amended, let them do so with scholarship and by presenting it to the public. Father Desbois is fighting Holocaust revisionism far more effectively by bringing new information to light than those who would make Holocaust revisionism a crime under the law.

In the end, faulty ideas such as global warming will be discredited by honest research. With time and the declassification of documents, our view of history is bound to change. We should not attempt to thwart this process by passing laws against what amounts to" thought crimes". Those who try to pass off propaganda as "historical revisionism" deserve refutation and contempt, not prosecution. Sphere: Related Content

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