What Is Genocide Denial?
Israel Charny, Executive Director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Israel, describes genocide denial in the following categories:
Innocence and Self-Righteousness: Respondents claim that they only intend to ascertain the truth. Moreover, they do not believe that human beings could have been as evil as the descriptions of the genocide imply. Furthermore, even if many deaths took place a long time ago, it is important to put them aside now and forgive and forget.
The position taken is seemingly an innocent one that we do not know enough to know what the facts of history were, and rather than condemning anyone we should await the ultimate decision of research. This is a manipulative misuse of the valued principle in science that facts must be proven before they are accepted in order to obfuscate facts that are indeed known and to confuse the minds of fair-minded people who do not want to fall prey to myths and propaganda. The very purpose of science, which is to know, is invoked in order to justify a form of know-nothingness.
Practicality, Pragmatism, and Realpolitik
Here the claim is made that dealing with ancient history is impractical, it will not bring peace to the world in which we live today. One must be realistic and live through realpolitik.
Ideal Linkage Distortion and Time-sequence Confusion
This is a dishonest linkage of different ideas, often out of time sequence, to excuse denials of the facts. Present needs, whether justified or not, are taken as a reasonable basis for censoring or changing the record of past history.
Indirection, Definitional, and Avoidance
These are responses, which avoid the issue by failing to reply, or no less by going off on tangents about trivial details that avoid the essential issue of whether genocide took place. The avoidance can also be done in a seductive manner by acknowledging that the issue should be discussed, but then it never is.
Twelve Ways to Deny Genocide
Israel Charny outlines the tactics of denial in “Templates for Gross Denial of a Known Genocide: A Manual,” … in The Encyclopedia of Genocide, volume 1, page 168.
– Question and minimize the statistics.
– Attack the motivations of the truth tellers.
– Claim that the deaths were inadvertent.
– Emphasize the strangeness of the victims.
– Rationalize the deaths as the result of tribal conflict.
– Blame “out of control” forces for committing the killings.
– Avoid antagonizing the genocidaires, who might walk out of “the peace process.”
– Justify denial in favor of current economic interests.
– Claim that the victims are receiving good treatment.
– Claim that what is going on doesn’t fit the definition of genocide.
– Blame the victims.
– Say that peace and reconciliation are more important.