The Rise of Negationism
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18 NAS).
Negationism first appeared in the 1987 book by French historian Henry Rousso, The Vichy Syndrome. Rousso differentiated between legitimate historical revisionism in Holocaust studies and politically-motivated denial of the Holocaust, which he termed négationnisme (negationism). It has since come to represent the denial of historic crimes.
Elements of negationism include Deception, falsifying information or obscuring the truth. Denial, claiming facts are untrue or shifting the blame. Relativization, comparing to other crimes. Trivialization, using a substitute word (holocaust) rather than genocide to describe an action.
Various countries now require education about Nazi Germany’s effort to eliminate Jews from Europe from 1933-1945. In the U.S., eleven states require such education. Oregon stipulates that instruction must “prepare students to confront the immorality of the Holocaust, genocide, and other acts of mass violence and to reflect on the causes of related historical events.” Recently a Florida high school principal was let go after emailing a parent, who wondered why his school was not providing such instruction, that he could not “say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event.”
One normally draws on objective historical facts to explain our present-day worldview. When political agendas lead educators, news media, and political pundits to engage in historical negationism, efforts to formulate a proper world view are stymied. Although negationism is primarily associated with the actions of Nazi Germany, atrocities since World War II have also become distorted. Among these are the genocide of Armenians by the Ottomans (1915); the Nanking Massacre by Imperial Japan (1937); genocide of the Tutsi by the Hutus in Rwanda (1994); genocide at the World Trade Center by radical Islamists (2001).
British historian Ian Kershaw, who wrote a definitive biography of Adolph Hitler, was asked in 1999 to define the lesson from Hitler’s Germany. He responded, “It shows us how thin civilization is.” When Hitler rose, Germany was advanced in the arts, sciences, education and industry. But Hitler built a military so quickly that in six weeks Germany annihilated the powerful French army. The culture that gave the world Einstein, Beethoven, and Bach justified the murder of six million Jews. If it could happen where people were so advanced in so many phases of human progress, it can happen anywhere, at any time, perhaps more so when history is distorted and denied.
Only God’s Word is Reliable
“By two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong encouragement, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us: (Hebrews 6:18 RVIC).
Today we see throughout the world the good and bad of media, both public and private. While it is difficult to keep things hidden (Luke 8:17), it is easy to omit facts or to alter images to present a biased viewpoint. Reporting is often distorted to support a particular viewpoint. Each imagines their own cause to be so important that there is little tolerance, if not outright animosity expressed publicly, for those who do not support it. Sadly, this can sometimes result in tragedy. If ever there was a time in the history of the world which called for calm and unbiased reasoning on the part of all, it is now. But mere reasoning, no matter how intelligent, can never bring hope to anyone unless there can be found some dependable foundation upon which reason may be based.
Through biblical truth alone do we find comfort? In God’s Word, we find dependable truth, reason, and a far more comforting message. How much need there is today that our faith is based upon a firm foundation of reason and truth, for we are confronted with many confusing paradoxes. The history of scripture and the promises of Jehovah are true and undistorted (Hebrews 6:18). Heavenly truth never changes. We cannot stop the rush of a selfish world toward the precipice of destruction, but we can tell as many as will listen that God is soon to establish a new world where truth and righteousness will reign. Thus we are ambassadors of the new kingdom and say unto Zion, “Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7).