All history, it has been said, is contemporary. What is remembered and how it is remembered depends on the axes that people wish to grind.

Whether or not this is always the case, it is clearly sometimes the case. For example, there has been a renewal of interest in Europe recently in the Armenian massacres, although nothing fundamentally new has been discovered about them. It is easy to divine the reason for this renewal of interest: not a sudden upsurge of sympathy for the Armenians of the past, but of anxiety about the possible accession of Turkey to the European Union. The demand that the Turks should recognize their genocidal history as a condition of admission is tantamount to an outright rejection of their application to join, and an atavistic fear of the migration of a huge mass of unassimilable cheap labor, strong but disavowed, is thus transmuted into an ethically more dignified and acceptable historical argument.

 

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