Letters to the Editor

Organizational Inconsistencies

John Mazis, March 2006

To the Editor:

President Sheehan's response to Jesse Lemisch's letter (Perspectives, December 2005) points to some important inconsistencies with our organization's position. Sheehan states that "As a scholarly organization, our efforts should not be directed at issuing proclamations about what happened in the past." However, a few paragraphs earlier he noted that the AHA Council resolved in 1991 that it "…strongly deplores the publicly reported attempts to deny the fact of the Holocaust." Unless I misunderstand the issue, in 1991 the AHA issued a proclamation about an event that happened in the past and rightly proclaimed that the Holocaust is a historical fact that can not be denied. However, in 2005 the AHA refuses to proclaim that the Armenian Genocide is also an undeniable historical fact. The AHA can not take a stand in the former case but refuse to do so in the latter. Deniers of the Armenian Genocide can claim that the AHA has doubts regarding the Armenian case otherwise it would have taken a stand as it did in the case of the Holocaust. This is particularly important today as there are efforts, most recently in Massachusetts, to present the Armenian Genocide as a"point of view" not a fact. I urge all AHA members to press the issue and continue to do so until we read in Perspectives and elsewhere that." The American Historical Association Council strongly deplores the publicly reported attempts to deny the fact of the Armenian Genocide"

—John Mazis
Assistant Professor of History
Hamline University