WASHINGTON, DC – Armenian Genocide denier and controversial Middle East historian Bernard Lewis was amongst those honored by President Bush this month with the prestigious National Humanities Medal, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA.) President Bush, joined by First Lady Laura Bush, bestowed the medal at a November 9th ceremony held in the White House Oval Office.
“The President’s decision to honor the work of a known genocide denier – an academic mercenary whose politically motivated efforts to cover up the truth run counter to the very principles this award was established to honor – represents a true betrayal of the public trust,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
Bernard Lewis, Professor Emeritus at Princeton University in the department of Near Eastern Studies, began his career as a historian with an honest assessment of the Armenian Genocide as a “terrible holocaust.” He soon reversed his position, serving as leading spokesman for the Turkish government’s denial campaign, along with Princeton University Professor Heath Lowry. Lowry was exposed as a paid spokesman for the Turkish government’s worldwide campaign of genocide denial in the seminal journal article, “Professional Ethics and the Denial of Armenian Genocide”, (“Holocaust and Genocide Studies,” 1995).
Lewis’ genocide denial became international news on June 21, 1995, when a French court condemned him for statements he made during a 1993 interview with French newspaper “Le Monde.” The case, which argued that Lewis’ statements caused harm to Armenian Genocide survivors, was filed by the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism and the Forum of Armenian Associations, representing a number of French Armenian organizations, including the ANC of France. The Court found Lewis “at fault,” stating that, “his remarks, which could unfairly revive the pain of the Armenian community, are tortuous and justify compensation.” The court further affirmed that, “the historian is bound by his responsibility toward the persons concerned when, by distortion or falsification, he credits the veracity of manifestly erroneous allegations or, through serious negligence, omits events or opinions subscribed to by persons qualified and enlightened enough so that the concern for accuracy prevents him from keeping silent about them.” Lewis was symbolically fined one franc and “Le Monde” was ordered to reprint portions of the French court judgment, which appeared two days later.
Nine individuals and one institution were awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2006, including: Fouad Ajami, James M. Buchanan, Nickolas Davatzes, Robert Fagles, Mary Lefkowitz, Bernard Lewis, Mark Noll, Meryle Secrest, Kevin Starr, and the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.
The National Humanities Medal honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities, broadened citizens’ engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to important resources in the humanities. The award, given by the National Endowment for the Humanities, was established in 1988. The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent agency of the U.S. government that supports research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. It was created by the U.S. Congress in the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965.