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.