Historical Revisionism (negationism)
Historical revisionism is either the legitimate scholastic re-examination of existing knowledge about a historical event, or the illegitimate distortion of the historical record such that certain events appear in a more or less favourable light. For the former, i.e. the academic pursuit, see historical revisionism. This article deals solely with the latter, the distortion of history, which—if it constitutes the denial of historical crimes—is also sometimes called negationism.
In attempting to revise the past, illegitimate historical revisionism appeals to the intellect—via techniques illegitimate to historical discourse—to advance a given interpretive historical view, typically involving war crimes or crimes against humanity. The techniques include presenting known forged documents as genuine; inventing ingenious, but implausible, reasons for distrusting genuine documents; attributing his or her own conclusions to books and sources reporting the opposite; manipulating statistical series to support the given point of view; and deliberately mis-translating texts (in languages other than the revisionist's). Practical examples of negationism (illegitimate historical revisionism) include Holocaust denial and some Soviet historiography. Contemporarily, hate groups practice negationism on the Internet. In literature, the effects of historical revisionism are usually described in science fiction novels such as Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), by George Orwell. Moreover, some countries have criminalised the negationist revision of certain historical events.
Famous quotes containing the word historical:
“Reason, progress, unselfishness, a wide historical perspective, expansiveness, generosity, enlightened self-interest. I had heard it all my life, and it filled me with despair.”
—Katherine Tait (b. 1923)