December 12, 2005
France: Call by 19 Historians for the Repeal of Several Statutory Clauses
[Emphasis in bold by Robert Faurisson.]
Paris — In a text sent today to the AFP headed “Liberté pour l’histoire!” (Freedom for history!), nineteen leading historians have come out for the repeal of several statutory clauses concerning “events of the past”, legislation that, according to them, is “unworthy of a democratic regime”.
They refer to articles of the laws of July 13, 1990 (editor’s note: aiming to punish any racist, anti-Semitic or xenophobic act [as well as any manifestation of “Holocaust” revisionism]), January 29, 2001 (editor’s note: relating to the acknowledgement of the 1915 Armenian genocide), May 21, 2001 (editor’s note: aiming to acknowledge the slave trade as a crime against humanity) and February 23, 2005.
The last mentioned law’s controversial article 4 (in favour of repatriated French citizens) stipulates that “the school curricula shall recognise in particular the positive role of the French presence overseas, notably in North Africa”.
The text is signed by Jean-Pierre Azéma, Elisabeth Badinter, Jean-Jacques Becker, Françoise Chandernagor, Alain Decaux, Marc Ferro, Jacques Julliard, Jean Leclant, Pierre Milza, Pierre Nora, Mona Ozouf, Jean-Claude Perrot, Antoine Prost, René Rémond, Maurice Vaïsse, Jean-Pierre Vernant, Paul Veyne, Pierre Vidal-Naquet and Michel Winock [most of whom are on the political left and several of whom are of Jewish origin].
“Moved by the ever more frequent political interventions in the assessment of events of the past and by the legal proceedings affecting historians and thinkers, we see fit to recall the following principles”, they write.
According to them, “history is not a religion. The historian accepts no dogma, respects no prohibition, knows no taboos. History is not morality. The historian’s role is not to exalt or to condemn: he explains. History is not the slave of current affairs. The historian does not stick contemporary ideological outlines onto the past and does not bring today’s sensitivity into the events of former times”.
“History is not remembrance”, they continue. “The historian, in a scientific procedure, collects people’s memories, compares them with each other, confronts them with documents, objects, traces, and establishes the facts. History takes remembrance into account, it does not amount merely to remembrance. History is not a juridical object. In a free country, it is the job neither of Parliament nor of the judicial authorities to define the historical truth. The State’s policy, albeit motivated by the best intentions, is not the policy of history”.
“It is in violation of these principles that clauses of successive laws — notably those of July 13, 1990, January 29, 2001, May 21, 2001 and February 23, 2005 — have restricted the historian’s freedom, have told him, on pain of sanctions, what he must look for and what he must find, have prescribed him his methods and set down limits. We call for the repeal of these legislative provisions that are unworthy of a democratic regime”, they conclude.