It was Genocide and Turkey did it.

I am in a surly mood, Bento. I wish we had some nationalistic Armenian-holocaust-denying Turkish readers I could be rude to; I was just watching CNN, and the Turkish ambassador to the UK was giving one of the most weaselly TV interviews I have seen in a long time, on the subject of US House resolution calling the Armenian Genocide a spade, as it were. He even had the temerity to more or less threaten the 70,000 Armenians currently living in Turkey, saying that the bill would put them in a “more dangerous position”.

It is a strange thing, how recently what was quite properly taken to be an indisputable fact of history — that such a genocide, or “state-ordered mass-killing of an ethnic minority” if you prefer a less emotional term, did in fact happen — has become somehow debatable, or in doubt. It has become something you need to have 2 sides to bring “balance” to in a news story. At no point in the CNN interview was the ambassador challenged on whether the massacres did in fact happen. The shrill stridency of the modern Turkish state on the subject seems to have had some effect; that, and also a certain supineness on the part of the news media and various Western governments.

It brings into question what the Turks, a majority of whom seem to be genocide-deniers, really think. Do they really think the whole world is out to “get” them? That contemporaries who described or commented on the genocide as far apart politically as Teddy Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Gertrude Bell, Adolf Hitler and the New York Times were together engaged in some wild anti-Turkish conspiracy? Are the Turks all somehow brainwashed? Have they simply not had the evidence put before them or do they simply not want to see it?   

What also gets me is that the events happened 92 years ago. That’s a long time now. There is nothing that will materially affect anyone alive, there would be no reduction in the wealth, prestige, power of Turkey and the Turks should the government accept that the crimes against the Armenians took place.

Bento, I know you are a big fan of Turkish entry into the EU. But the hysteria of the Turkish political class on this subject disturbs me greatly. I think I might be with the French on this one.

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5 thoughts on “It was Genocide and Turkey did it.”

  1. The answer to most of your questions above is Yes. Yes, they are brainwashed, and they were brainwashed in school, and they are brainwashing their children this very minute into believing that Kamil Ataturk was the man of the century when in fact he was just a very naught boy.

    The problem I think is not one of external losing face but internal politicking. Ataturk is the face of secular Turkey, and secular Turkey is locked in a war for the hearts and minds of Turks with religous Turkey. If secular Turks admit that their dear leader was a génocidaire then that rather undermines their position.

    The problem is that a dead génocidaire remains a symbol od a modern-day movement. In Belgium, Leopold II was also a génocidaire, just a decade before Ataturk, but Leo is no longer the symbol of anything, so we feel free to bash him. Curiously, nobody bothers, and most Belgians remain oblivious to his crimes.

  2. The strange thing is, Bento, is that as far as I know Ataturk is not even indicted as a “genocidaire” against the Armenians in the key period of the massacres. The genocide was the policy of the Young Turk faction of the previous government.

    I was just reading that once in power Ataturk even spoke about “abominations” committed against Armenians. Obviously he might have wanted merely to distance himself from the previous lot.

    It just deepens the stupidity of the Turks on this issue for me. Turks can acknowledge the genocide, use it to elevate Ataturk and the secular settlement at the same time, undercut the Merkels and Sarkos who use the issue to keep them out of Europe, and via a little public contrition get a lot of good publicity in the West. They look pretty bad right now, “holocaust deniers” — like that Irvine chap, who I cannot imagine gets invited to lots of middle class dinner parties — this would change perceptions of them overnight.

    Of course, the main problem would be that any Turkish politician who did admit anything like that would likely be assassinated some point down the road.

  3. Actually Ataturk is an interesting figure, Bento. Potentially Spinozist. Do you know anything about him? Do you think he could be a Fellow Collegiant?

  4. Mental Notes from a Feisty Turkish Girl

    http://feistyturkishgirl.wordpress.com/

    -Is Turkey a Fascist Country? You decide.
    -Does Turkey belong in the EU?
    -The Armenian Genocide: The Truth
    -Ottoman Immigration and the Americas
    -My Roots

    Please visit my blog, read my posts on such topics and contribute!

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