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By Meïr Waintrater
December 8, 2010
At this very moment, a university is having to defend itself against a lawsuit. The charge? Declaring that writings denying a genocide are not a basis for students' work. In other words, the university has come up against those who defend the perpetrators of genocide, who want to have their denialist discourse legitimized.
The university is American, headquartered in Minneapolis, the largest city in the State of Minnesota. The genocide in question is the genocide of the Armenians, which was perpetrated by the Ottoman government beginning in 1915. And the complaint was filed by the Turkish Coalition of America, an organization which claims that the genocide did not take place.
The complaint targets the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, which is part of the University of Minnesota. This Center has a website for students and researchers which suggests, among other things, recommended readings. It also indicates that other texts on these subjects are "unreliable," beginning with the texts of the Turkish Coalition.
This has angered Turkish lobbyists, who are filing suit against the university, its president, and educator Bruno Chaouat, who directs the Center. They have been defamed, they say, they are being denied the right to speak. They pose as victims because academics have passed scientific judgment on denialist discourse--which is their right, indeed their duty. The university is defending itself, of course, and has every chance of winning this unjust lawsuit. But doubt has been sown in people's minds.
All this may seem far, very far, from us. In reality, we are directly concerned. Not only because the academic in question, Bruno Chaouat, is a French citizen. What happens today in Minneapolis could occur tomorrow in Paris, if we are not careful.
Among us also, the denial of the Armenian Genocide has its advocates. And the deniers of all genocides are alike. Not satisfied with preaching hatred, they want to impose their presence in a discussion where they have no place.
Imagine Pierre Péan giving a course on the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, imagine Faurisson and Garaudy teaching the history of the Shoah. Ridiculous, hateful, intolerable? Yes, but not much more than what some people claim to be dictating to the University of Minnesota. The battle of this university and its teachers for the simple right to tell the truth about genocide is our struggle as well.
© Meïr Waintrater
Posted December 8, 2010, by Menahem Macina at france-israel.org
Original text in French: