Historical negationism

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Historical negationism or denialism is an illegitimate distortion of the historical record. It is often imprecisely referred to as historical revisionism, but that term also denotes a legitimate academic pursuit of re-interpretation of the historical record and questioning the accepted views. In attempting to revise the past, illegitimate historical revisionism may use techniques inadmissible in proper historical discourse, such as presenting known forged documents as genuine; inventing ingenious but implausible reasons for distrusting genuine documents; attributing conclusions to books and sources that report the opposite; manipulating statistical series to support the given point of view; and deliberately mis-translating texts (in languages other than the revisionist's).


  • And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed -if all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past,' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.' And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. 'Reality control', they called it: in Newspeak, 'doublethink'.
  • The past, he reflected, had not merely been altered, it had been actually destroyed. For how could you establish even the most obvious fact when there existed no record outside your own memory?
  • Negationism means the denial of historical crimes against humanity. It is not a reinterpretation of known facts, but the denial of known facts. The term negationism has gained currency as the name of a movement to deny a specific crime against humanity, the Nazi genocide on the Jews in 1941–45, also known as the holocaust (Greek: complete burning) or the Shoah (Hebrew: disaster). Negationism is mostly identified with the effort at re-writing history in such a way that the fact of the Holocaust is omitted.

South Asia

  • I realize that my study of dhimmitude remains incomplete because it is limited to Jews and Christians. It should be supplemented by the dhimmitude of the Zoroastrians, located in an inferior category, and that of Buddhists and Hindus, considered as idolaters. A few books on this subject have recently been published in India. The picture they paint is similar to that of regions to the west of the Indian subcontinent. The contemporary historical negationism in India, with the collusion of Hindu politicians, is discussed in detail by Koenraad Elst…
    • Bat, Y., Kochan, M., & Littman, D. (2003). Islam and Dhimmitude: Where civilizations collide. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.
  • “History and Language textbooks for schools all over India will soon be revised radically. In collaboration with various state governments the Ministry of Education has begun a phased programme to weed out undesirable textbooks and remove matter which is prejudicial to national integration and unity and which does not promote social cohesion…” Accordingly, “Twenty states and three Union Territories have started the work of evaluation according to guidelines prepared by the NCERT…”
    • Coomi Kapoor, Indian Express, January 17, 1982. Quoted from Goel, Sita Ram (2001). The story of Islamic imperialism in India. ISBN 9788185990231, also quoted in Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 3 (also in K.S. Lal, Historical Essays), also in Sita Ram Goel, The Calcutta Quran Petition (1986)
  • The motives of … those who wilfully set out to deny the facts of the destruction of the Hindu civilisation of India, are the opposite. Their denial of the large-scale destruction and denigration of Hindu religion and culture by the Muslim raiders, invaders and conquerors of India is motivated by the deep-seated political aim of the Independence movement to brook no divide between Hindu and Muslim.It was for its time and for all time a noble aim. That was one of the things V.S. Naipaul said to the BJP gathering--that the project of Nehru and Gandhi to avoid going into the import of that history was in itself positively motivated. There is never any justification for one community in India to conduct a pogrom against another. Not then, not now. But surely the construction of history should be truthful. Suppression can only exacerbate the anger.
  • But the negationists are not satisfied with seeing their own version of the facts being repeated in more and more books and papers. They also want to prevent other versions from reaching the public. Therefore, in 1982 the National Council of Educational Research and Training issued a directive for the rewriting of schoolbooks. Among other things, it stipulated that: "Characterization of the medieval period as a time of conflict between Hindus and Muslims is forbidden." Under Marxist pressure, negationism has become India's official policy.
  • India has its own full-fledged brand of negationism: a movement to deny the large-scale and long-term crimes against humanity committed by Islam. This movement is led by Islamic apologists and Marxist academics, and followed by all the politicians, journalists and intellectuals who call themselves secularists. In contrast to the European negationism regarding the Nazi acts of genocide, but similar to the Turkish negationism regarding the Armenian genocide, the Indian negationism regarding the terrible record of Islam is fully supported by the establishment. It has nearly full control of the media and dictates all state and government parlance concerning the communal problem (more properly to be called the Islam problem).
  • "Those who deny history are bound to repeat it": that is what many critics of Holocaust negationism allege. This seems slightly exaggerated, though it is of course the well- wishers of Nazism who practise negationism. In the case of Islam, it is equally true that negationism is practised by the well-wishers of that same doctrine which has led to the crimes against humanity under consideration. While Nazism is simply too stained to get a second chance, Islam is certainly in a position to force unbelievers into the zimmi status (as is happening in dozens of Muslim countries in varying degrees), and even to wage new jihads, this time with weapons of mass-destruction. Those who are trying to close people's eyes to this danger by distorting or concealing the historical record of Islam are effective accomplices in the injustice and destruction which Islam is sure to cause before the time of its dissolution comes. Therefore, I consider it a duty of all intellectuals to expose and denounce the phenomenon of negationism whenever it is practised.
    • Elst, Koenraad. Negationism in India: concealing the record of Islam. 1992
  • The whole tenor of this tendentious scheme for "national integration" becomes fully explicit in the following fiat from the Ministry of Education: “Characterisation of the medieval period as a dark period or as a time of conflict between Hindus and Muslims is forbidden. Historians cannot identify Muslims as rulers and Hindus as subjects. The state cannot be described as a theocracy, without examining the actual influence of religion. No exaggeration of the role of religion in political conflicts is permitted… Nor should there be neglect and omission of trends and processes of assimilation and synthesis.”
  • My heart sinks at the very idea of such a sinister scheme being sponsored by an educational agency set up by the government of a democratic country. It is an insidious attempt at thought-control and brainwashing. Having been a student of these processes in Communist countries, I have a strong suspicion that this document has also sprung from the same sort of mind. This mind has presided for long over the University Grants Commission and other educational institutions, and has been aided and abetted by the residues of Islamic imperialism masquerading as secularists.
  • The only way which this ruling sees out of what it calls “the communal strife” is that Hindu history should be substantially diluted and tailored to the needs of Islamic imperialism, and that Muslim history should be given a liberal coat of whitewash or even made to pass muster as national history. This has been the main plank in the platform for “national integration”. Hitherto this Experiment with Untruth was confined mainly to Muslim and Communist “historians” who have come to control the Indian History Congress, the Indian Council of Historical Research, and even the University Grants Commission. Now it has been taken up by the National Integration Council. The Ministry of Education of the Government of India has directed the education departments in the States to extend this experiment to school-level text-books of history. And this perverse programme of suppressing truth and spreading falsehood is being sponsored by a state which inscribes Satyameva Jayate on its emblem…
    But that is about all that can be said in commendation of the scheme sanctioned by the National Integration Council and sponsored by the Ministry of Education. The rest is recommendations for telling lies to our children, or for not telling to them the truth at all.
    • Sita Ram Goel, The Story of Islamic Imperialism in India (1994)
  • This caravan loaded with synthetic merchandise has, however, continued to move forward. Eight years later (1982), it was reported that “History and Language textbooks for schools all over India will soon be revised radically. In collaboration with various state governments the Ministry of Education has begun a phased programme to weed out undesirable textbooks and remove matter which is prejudicial to national integration and unity and which does not promote social cohesion.
    • Sita Ram Goel, The Calcutta Quran Petition (1986)
  • [Arun Shourie's article 'Hideaway Communalism'] had violated a taboo placed by the mass media and the academia on any unfavourable narration of the history of Islam since the days when Mahatma Gandhi took command of the Indian National Congress and launched his first non-cooperation movement in support of the Turkish Khilafat. The correct thing since that time had been to praise Islam and its heroes, and not to ask any inconvenient questions about its belief system or its deeds or its goals. In fact, Islam had imposed an Emergency on India and enforced it by means of terror, verbal as well as physical. Hindus were free to praise Islam but if they asked any inconvenient questions, they invited not only swearwords from all respectable quarters, but also the assassin's dagger.
    • Goel, S.R. in Hindu Temples – What Happened to Them, Volume I (1990) Preface, 2nd edition, p. xiii.
  • It would normally be expected that historical writing on Muslim rule in medieval India would tell the tale of this discrimination and the sufferings of the people, their forced conversions, destruction of their temples, enslavement of their women and children, candidly and repeatedly mentioned by medieval Muslim chroniclers themselves. But curiously enough, in place of bringing such facts to light there is a tendency to gloss over them or even suppress them. Countries which in the middle ages completely converted to Islam and lost links with their original religion and culture, write with a sense of pride about their history as viewed by their Islamic conquerors. But India's is a different story. India could not be Islamized and it did not lose its past cultural anchorage. Naturally, it does not share the sense of glory felt by medieval Muslim chroniclers. But some modern “secularist” writers do praise Muslim rule in glowing terms. All historians are not so brazen or such distortionists. Hence the history of Muslim rule in India is seen through many coloured glasses. It is necessary, therefore, to take a look at the “schools” or “groups” of modern historians writing on the history of medieval India so that a balanced appraisal of the legacy of Muslim rule in India may be made. (Chapter 1)
  • And funny though it may sound it was decided to falsify history to please the Muslims and draw them into the national mainstream. Guidelines for rewriting history were prepared by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT)… The West Bengal Board of Secondary Education issued a notification dated 28 April 1989 addressed to schools and publishers suggesting some ‘corrections’ in the teaching and writing of ‘Muslim rule in India’ - like the real objective of Mahmud Ghaznavi’s attack on Somnath, Aurangzeb’s policy towards the Hindus, and so on. These guidelines specifically say: “Muslim rule should not attract any criticism. Destruction of temples by Muslim invaders and rulers should not be mentioned.” One instruction in the West Bengal circular is that “schools and publishers have been asked to ignore and delete mention of forcible conversions to Islam.” The notification, says the Statesman of 21 May 1989, was objected to in many quarters. “A row has been kicked up by some academicians who feel that the ‘corrections’ are unjustified and politically motivated…” Another group feels that the corrections are “justified”. This experiment with untruth was being attempted since the 30’s-40’s by Muslim and Communist historians. After Independence, they gradually gained strength in university departments. By its policy the Nehruvian state just permitted itself to be hijacked by the so-called progressive, secular and Marxist historians. (Chapter 3)
  • Armed with money and instructions from the Ministry of Education, the National Council of Educational Research, University Grants Commission, Indian Council of Historical Research, secular and Stalinist historians began to produce manipulated and often manifestly false school and college text-books of history and social studies in the Union Territories and States of India. This has gone on for years… On the one hand, the government through the Department of Archaeology preserves monuments the originals of which were destroyed by Islamic vandalism, and on the other, history text-books are directed to say that no shrines were destroyed. Students are taught one thing in the class rooms through their text-books, while they see something else when they go on excursions to historical monuments. At places like Qutb Minar and Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque they see that “the construction is all Hindu and destruction all Muslim”. History books are not written only in India; these are written in neighbouring countries also, and what is tried to be concealed here for the sake of national integration, is mentioned with pride in the neighbouring Muslim countries. Scholars in Europe are also working on Indian history and untruths uttered by India’s secular and progressive historians are easily countered… Thousands of pilgrims who visit Mathura or walk past the site of Vishvanath temple and Gyanvapi Masjid in Varanasi everyday, are reminded of Mughal vandalism and disregard for Hindu sensitivities by Muslim rulers. (Chapter 3)
  • And yet some writers delude themselves with the mistaken belief that they can change their country's history by distorting it, or brain-wash generations of young students, or humour fundamentalist politicians through such unethical exercise. To judge what happened in the past in the context of today's cultural milieu and consciously hide the truth, is playing politics with history. Let history be accepted as a matter of fact without putting it to any subjective interpretations. Yesterday's villains cannot be made today's heroes, or, inversely, yesterday's Islamic heroes cannot be made into robbers ransacking temples just for treasures. Nor can the medieval monuments be declared as national monuments as suggested in some naive 'secularist' quarters. They represent vandalism. No true Indian can be proud of such desecrated and indecorous evidence of 'composite culture'. 'History,' says Froude, 'does teach that right and wrong are real distinctions. Opinions alter, manners change, creeds rise and fall, but the moral law is written on the tablets of humanity.' It is nobody's business to change this moral law and prove the wrongs of the medieval period to be right today by having recourse to misrepresentation of history. Manipulation in the writing of medieval Indian history by some modern writers is the worst legacy of Muslim rule in India. (Chapter 3)
    • Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 3 (also in K.S. Lal, Historical Essays)
  • The only voice which was heard against this nation-wide exercise in suppressio veri suggestio falsi in the field of medieval Indian history, was that of the veteran historian, R.C. Majumdar. For him, this “national integration” based on a wilful blindness to recorded history of the havoc wrought by Islam in India, could lead only to national suicide. He tried his best to arrest the trend by presenting Islamic imperialism in medieval India as it was, and not as the politicians in league with Stalinist and Muslim historians were tailoring it to become. “Political necessities of the Indians during the last phase of British rule,” he wrote in 1960, “underlined the importance of alliance between the two communities, and this was sought to be smoothly brought about by glossing over the differences and creating an imaginary history of the past in order to depict the relations between the two in a much more favourable light than it actually was… But history is no respecter of persons or communities, and must always strive to tell the truth, so far as it can be deduced from reliable evidence. This great academic principle has a bearing upon actual life, for ignorance seldom proves to be a real bliss either to an individual or to a nation. In the particular case under consideration, ignorance of the actual relation between the Hindus and the Muslims throughout the course of history - an ignorance deliberately encouraged by some - may ultimately be found to have been the most important single factor which led to the partition of India. The real and effective means of solving a problem is to know and understand the facts that gave rise to it, and not to ignore them by hiding the head, ostrich-like, into sands of fiction.”
    • R.C. Majumdar, quoted in Sita Ram Goel, The Calcutta Quran Petition (1986), quoting R.C. Majumdar (ed), The History and Culture of the Indian People, Volume VI, The Delhi Sultanate, Bombay, 1960, p. xxix.
  • But his voice remained a voice in the wilderness. Fourteen years later, he [R.C. Majumdar] had to return to the theme and give specific instances of falsification. “It is very sad,” he observed, “that the spirit of perverting history to suit political views is no longer confined to politicians, but has definitely spread even among professional historians… It is painful to mention though impossible to ignore, the fact that there is a distinct and conscious attempt to rewrite the whole chapter of the bigotry and intolerance of the Muslim rulers towards Hindu religion. This was originally prompted by the political motive of bringing together the Hindus and Musalmans in a common fight against the British but has continued ever since. A history written under the auspices of the Indian National Congress sought to repudiate the charge that the Muslim rulers broke Hindu temples, and asserted that they were the most tolerant in matters of religion. Following in its footsteps, a noted historian has sought to exonerate Mahmud of Ghazni’s bigotry and fanaticism, and several writers in India have come forward to defend Aurangzeb against Jadunath Sarkar’s charge of religious intolerance. It is interesting to note that in the revised edition of the Encyclopaedia of Islam, one of them, while re-writing the article on Aurangzeb originally written by William Irvine, has expressed the view that the charge of breaking Hindu temples brought against Aurangzeb is a disputed point. Alas for poor Jadunath Sarkar, who must have turned in his grave if he were buried. For, after reading his History of Aurangzib, one would be tempted to ask, if the temple-breaking policy of Aurangzeb is a disputed point, is there a single fact in the whole recorded history of mankind which may be taken as undisputed?”
    • R.C. Majumdar, quoted in Sita Ram Goel, The Calcutta Quran Petition (1986), quoting R.C. Majumdar (ed.), Ibid., Volume VII, Preface to The Mughal Empire, Bombay, 1974, p. xii.
  • The modern academics find it politically incorrect to criticize the devastation under Islamic rule, even though post-colonial scholars have amply exposed the ruin created by the British.
  • How do you ignore history? But the nationalist movement, independence movement ignored it. You read the Glimpses of World History by Jawaharlal Nehru, it talks about the mythical past and then it jumps the difficult period of the invasions and conquests. So you have Chinese pilgrims coming to Bihar, Nalanda and places like that. Then somehow they don't tell you what happens, why these places are in ruin. They never tell you why Elephanta island is in ruins or why Bhubaneswar was desecrated. So history has to be studied, it is very painful history. But it is not more painful than most countries have had… It isn't India alone that has had a rough time, that has to be understood. But the rough time has to be faced and it cannot be glossed over. There are tools for us to understand the rough time. We can read a man like Ibn Battuta who will tell you what it was like to be there in the midst of the fourteenth century, terrible times. An apologist of the invaders would like to gloss that over. But it would be wrong to gloss that over, that has to be understood… But I would like to see this past recovered and not dodged.
  • It is true that in the decades in which India was ruled imperiously by the Congress, the task of writing history textbooks was allotted to Leftist historians who chose to view India’s past through a distorted lens. The most celebrated of these historians, Romila Thapar, has gone so far as to deny that Muslim invaders destroyed the temples of us idolatrous infidels. Undoubtedly, if she were writing about more recent history, she would deny that the Taliban blew up the Buddhas of Bamiyan — and would say that they fell to pieces of their own accord.
  • Therefore, certain attempts made by some ultra-Marxist historians to justify and even whitewash tyrannical emperors of the medieval India may be tactical for purposes of popular secularism but totally unwarranted. Aurangzeb's misdeeds need not be given a face-lift…
    • Seshadri, K. Indian Politics, Then and Now: Essays in Historical Perspective. Pragatee Prakashan. p. 5.
  • One of the issues that needs to be addressed as we seek to sort out the problems posed by the Marxist interpretation of history is what Koenraad Elst, the Belgian orientalist and Indologist, describes as negationism in India. Known for his writings on Indian history and Hindu-Muslim relations, Elst says that while negationism in Europe means the denial of Nazi genocide of the Jews and gypsies during World War II, the Indian brand of negationism deals with the section of intelligentsia “trying to erase from Hindu memory the history of their persecution by the swordsmen of Islam”.
  • Muslim rule should never attract any criticism. Destruction of temples by Muslim rulers and invaders should not be mentioned.
    • West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, Circular, 1989. Quoted in Arun Shourie - Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud, HarperCollins, 1998. Also quoted: in Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 8. Quoted in Rosser, Yvette In Saha, S. C. (2004). Religious fundamentalism in the contemporary world: Critical social and political issues, p 273. Quoted in Rao, R. N. (2001). Coalition conundrum: The BJP's trials, tribulations, and triumphs. also in Y.Rosser, Islamisation of Pakistani Social Studies Textbooks, 2003. p 17.
  • Apologists for Islam, as well as some Marxist scholars in India, have sometimes attempted to reduce Islamic iconoclasm in India to a gratuitous ‘lust for plunder’ on the part of the Muslims, unrelated in any direct way to the religion itself, while depicting Hindu temples as centers of political resistance which had to be suppressed. Concomitantly, instances have been described in the popular press of Hindu destruction of Buddhist and Jain places of worship, and the idea was promoted that archaeological evidence shows this to have happened on a large scale, and hence that Hindu kings could be placed on a par with the Muslim invaders. The fact is that evidence for such ‘Hindu iconoclasm’ is incidental, relating to mere destruction, and too vague to be convincing.
    • Wink, André. Al-Hind the Making of the Indo-Islamic World: The Slave Kings and the Islamic Conquest : 11Th-13th Centuries. BRILL. p. 309 ff.

Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud

Shourie, Arun (2014). Eminent historians: Their technology, their line, their fraud. Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India : HarperCollins

  • In a word, no forcible conversions, no massacres, no destruction of temples… Muslim historians of those times are in raptures at the heap of Kafirs [sic] who have been dispatched to hell. Muslim historians are forever lavishing praise on the ruler for the temples he has destroyed,… Law books like The Hedaya prescribe exactly the options to which these little textbooks alluded. All whitewashed away. Objective whitewash for objective history. And today if anyone seeks to restore truth to these textbooks, the shout, "Communal rewriting of history."
  • How does this concern square with the guidelines issued by their West Bengal government… - "Muslim rule should never atttact any criticism. Destruction of temples by Muslim rulers and invaders should not be mentioned?
  • The West Bengal Board of Secondary Education had issued instructions in 1989 that ‘Muslim rule should never attract any criticism. Destruction of temples by Muslim rulers and invaders should not be mentioned. (…) With the sway which Marxists have ensured over the education department, each facet at every level will be subjected to the same sort of alterations and substitutions that we have encountered in Bengal – all that is necessary is that the progressives’ government remains in power, and that the rest keep looking the other way.
  • As we have seen, the explicit part of the circular issued by the West Bengal government in 1989 in effect was that there must be no negative reference to Islamic rule in India. Although these were the very things which contemporary Islamic writers had celebrated, there must be no reference to the destruction of the temples by Muslim rulers, to the forcible conversion of Hindus, to the numerous other disabilities which were placed on the Hindu population. Along with the circular, the passages which had to be removed were listed and substitute passages were specified. The passages which were ordered to be deleted contained, if anything, a gross understatement of the facts. On the other hand, passages which were sought to be inserted contained total falsehoods: that by paying jizyah Hindus could lead ‘normal lives’ under an Islamic ruler like Alauddin Khalji! A closer study of the textbooks which are today being used under the authority of the West Bengal government shows a much more comprehensive, a much deeper design than that of merely erasing the cruelties of Islamic rule.
  • The position of these ‘academics’ in Bengal has, of course, been helped by the fact that the CPI(M) has been in power there for so long. But their sway has not been confined to the teaching and ‘research’ institutions of that state. It is no surprise, therefore, to see the same ‘line’ being poured down the throats of students at the national level. And so strong is the tug of intellectual fashion, so lethal can the controlling mafia be to the career of an academic that often, even though the academic may not quite subscribe to their propositions and ‘theses’, he will end up reciting those propositions. Else his manuscript will not be accepted as a textbook by the NCERT, for instance, it will not be reviewed….
  • Notice the sleight of hand… Each of these assertions is a blatant falsehood. But these historians, having, through their control of institutions, set the standards of intellectual correctness, the one who questions the falsehoods, even though he does so by citing the writings of the best known Islamic historians of those very times, he is the one who is in the wrong… Once they had occupied academic bodies, once they had captured universities and thereby determined what will be taught, which books will be prescribed, what questions would be asked, what answers will be acceptable, these historians came to decide what history had actually been!… Thus, they suppress facts, they concoct others, they suppress what an author has said on one matter even as they insist that what he has said on another be taken as gospel truth. And when anyone attempts to point out what had in fact happened, they rise in chorus: a conspiracy to rewrite history, they shout, a plot to distort history, they scream. But they are the ones who have been distorting it in the first place – by suppressing the truth, by planting falsehoods.
    • Shourie, Arun (2014). Eminent historians: Their technology, their line, their fraud. Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India : HarperCollins Publishers.

External links

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