Everyone is a “Negationist” of Something

Posted by John Rosenthal

Just because their political elites chose to insult their intelligence, one should not conclude that all the French have lost their taste for freedom. Here the translation of a letter to the editor by one Pierre Derouche that appeared in the weekend edition (14-15 October) of Le Figaro:


I am opposed to Turkey’s entering the European Union and I have much sympathy for the numerous Armenians [in France] who have become more French than the Duponts and the Durands. But what does the PS [Socialist Party] think it is doing in seeking to punish as criminals those who refuse to admit the existence of a genocide against the Armenians? Why not also punish those who deny the mass crimes of Stalin, Mao or Pol Pot (and they are numerous)? Why not also fine or send to prison those who have dared to claim that no plane crashed into the Pentagon in September 2001? When will our representatives begin treating us as adults? We are old enough to research subjects of this nature ourselves and to form our own opinions. It is in guaranteeing that the necessary documentary evidence is available – both for and against a given proposition – that we will make democracy work, not by threatening heretics.


Contrast the good sense of Mr. Derouche with the words and attitude of the Green member of the French National Assembly, Yves Cochet. Following a private screening of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” at the National Assembly recently, Mr. Cochet remarked with evident satisfaction, “There are no longer any negationists of climate change – apart from Claude Allègre.” (Le Monde, 11 October) Claude Allègre is a former French Minister of Education who in a recent column in the weekly L’Express called into question the link between global warming and human activity. Mr. Allègre – unlike Mr. Cochet – also happens to be a practicing geochemist.



In light of the French National Assembly’s vote to criminalize denial of the Armenian genocide, it is worth recalling that one person who does indeed deny that the term “genocide” accurately describes the historical events in question is none other than Bernard Lewis – i.e. the most eminent English-speaking historian of Islam and the Middle East. Mr. Lewis has already been found guilty by a French court for expressing his opinion on the matter in an interview with a French paper. (See here for background.) Should he repeat his “crime” once the new law comes into effect, he would face a fine of some 45,000 euros and up to five years in prison.


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