Read Oliver Kamm on the subject of those who deny genocides and massacres, for shameful political purposes:
I have in the past couple of weeks been the object of a dreary write-in campaign by the sub-Chomskyite group Media Lens, who make a habit of spamming journalists of liberal and left-wing opinions for our ideological deviations. Media Lens promote, praise and publish the Srebrenica-denial that I’ve described. They’re irate that I’ve pointed this out, but for some reason wish to immerse themselves further in the murky waters of genocide-denial. They thus state in their “media alert” to their supporters (which appears to have dropped off their site):
“Herman and Peterson, then, are not denying that mass killings took place at Srebrenica. They also do not accept the figure cited by Kamm and others, but that they are perfectly entitled to do.”
You have to read that remark several times to grasp the full turpitude of it. Here’s a thought-experiment to demonstrate it.
If I were to write an op-ed for this newspaper (and by some terrible miracle it got through the Comment Editor, which it wouldn’t) declaring that David Irving does not accept the figure of Holocaust victims cited by historians, and that he’s perfectly entitled to do so, I’d be out of a job – immediately and rightly. It would be irrelevant for me to state, truthfully, that (to coin a phrase) some of my best friends are Jewish and that I therefore can’t be accused of antisemitism. I’d have demonstrated my total inability to do my job, which is to write criticism and commentary in accordance with what is reliably known. Irving is not entitled to the opinion that “only” hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed, because it’s false. Herman and Peterson are not entitled to their views on Srebrenica, and in their own remarks Media Lens’s editors have crossed the line separating ignorant obsequiousness from the whitewashing of war crimes.
Someone called John Howard writes – and his email is proudly posted by the Media Lens editors, David Edwards and David Cromwell, on their site – to tell me:
“Ive searched very carefully these past two days to review what Cromwell and Edwards have written on this issue but have drawn a blank. They do indeed question the exact numbers of those killed at Srebrenica, but that is perfectly legitimate and fully aligned with careful scholarship.”
It’s those last two words that do it for me. When I was at school, I had a languages teacher who had been a child refugee from Nazi Germany. Her parents had perished in the camps. She became, and remains, a close friend of my mother’s. I recall one minor but unsettling experience that this dignified lady told me about one day. She had been asked to introduce a travelling exhibition from the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam when it arrived in our home city of Leicester. After she’d given her talk, a man came up and introduced himself as a leading local member of the National Front, which had attracted a lot of support in one set of elections in Leicester. He thrust a pamphlet into her hand. I’m certain it would have been a notorious publication called “Did Six Million Really Die?” by a prominent member of the National Front writing under a pseudonym.
This was about 30 years ago. Holocaust denial was around, but not many people had heard of it. My teacher had never come across it before. She’d read the pamphlet, and my strong impression – these may have been her exact words – was that she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
When I hear that “careful scholarship” determines that the 8,000 victims of the genocide at Srebrenica are a “political construct” – people whose mortal remains have lately been exhumed from mass graves – I think of that conversation.