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19.8.15

The Genocide of the Armenian People, Three Flies, and Pierre Nora

Varoujan Sirapian
Translated by Vartan Matiossian
 

Last June 24, the Committee of Culture of the [French] Senate heard Mr. Pierre Nora, director of studies at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales [EHESS], member of the French Academy, to have him give his advice on the reform of high school programs of history within the frame of a project of reform led by Minister of Education Mrs. Najat Vallaud-Belkacem.
Mr. Nora is naturally opposed, in coincidence with his previous standpoints, to the proposal of the Higher Council of Programs to include the question of the genocide of Armenians in the more general subject of World War I. He repeats, thus, in this occasion his principled opposition to any "intrusion of politics in the qualification of the past. [Because] in democracy, history belongs to historians."
Heard many times, this argument is no less fallacious, because politics has already believed to be correct to enter historical debate through the law Fabius-Gayssot that forbids any critical rereading of this other genocide recognized by France (like the genocide of the Armenian people), that of the Jews during World War II. Now, Mr. Nora rebels himself against the perspective of "gayssotizing" the question of the Armenian genocide, recalling that "the Gayssot law of 1990 penalizes the denial of crime against humanity"! Strange reasoning. The massive massacres, the death marches through the arid steppes of eastern Anatolia and the Syrian desert are not equally qualified to be crimes against humanity? Mr. Nora reasons despite the recognition by France of the incontestable genocidal will of the revolutionary Young Turks.
If Mr. Nora had gone to the edge of his logic, which rightfully denies to the state a right of exorbitant intervention in historical research, he should have also demanded simultaneously the abrogation of the law Fabius-Gayssot that penalizes the denial of the Holocaust. Since France has recognized the genocide of the Armenians by the law of January 29, 2001, it is then either about punishing the denial of both genocides without rhetorical distinctions or to totally lift to scholars and scientists the prohibition to reread, namely, review historical events, as painful as they are. Let's note that the promise of Presidents Sarkozy and Hollande to put these two major tragedies of the twentieth century was rejected once by the Constitutional Court in 2012... following the fierce battle of the opponents, one of whose heads was Mr. Nora himself. 
This frontal opposition from a man as eminent as Mr. Nora is found intact, unimpaired, in his recommendations to the school programs for the teaching of history. Beyond perplexity, such perseverance cannot but produce a certain uneasiness.
Pierre Nora, president of the 14th edition of  "Rendez-vous de l’Histoire," president of the association "Liberté pour l’Histoire" and member of the French Academy, had already exposed, on October 12, 2011, live on France Inter, his differentialist thesis on the different genocides of the past century.... Considering the Shoah and the genocide of the Tutsis as incontrastable, he had added in a totally flabbergasting way: "If you crush three fleas, you can also speak of a genocide." The descendants of the survivors of 1915 and 1916 must have appreciated that.
In the end, the academician who calls himself a non-specialist of the "Armenian affair (sic)," but who puts the cloths of expert before a Senate commission, is he credible? Is Mr. Nora otherwise aware that he is talking and acting in the same denialist register of the Turkish state?
In this year 2015, the Armenians in France and throughout the world commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the genocide, thinking about their parents and grandparents taken by the storm of this Great Crime (Medz Yeghern). It would be convenient, today, not to add the injury done to truth to the insult of their memory.

"Boulevard Voltaire" (www.bvoltaire.fr), August 12, 2015 

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