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Remember the Armenian Genocide
April 14, 2005 10:39 AM   Subscribe

"Between 1915 and 1918 the Ottoman Empire, ruled by Muslim Turks, carried out a policy to eliminate its Christian Armenian minority. This genocide was preceded by a series of massacres in 1894-1896 and in 1909, and was followed by another series of massacres beginning in 1920. By 1922 Armenians had been eradicated from their historic homeland." Since the early 1920s, successive Turkish governments have maintained an ostentatious silence on the subject, broken only to issue denials that the genocide ever occurred, and denunciations of those who assert that it did. In 1990, for example, the Turkish ambassador to the U.S. dismissed the holocaust as resulting from "a tragic civil war initiated by Armenian nationalists."

This Sunday in NYC, thousands will gather to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the genocide and protest the Turkish denials.
posted by jenleigh (74 comments total)

 
Turkish governments have maintained an ostentatious silence on the subject

So what? It's not my job to apologize for things my great-grandfather did. Modern apologies by people not involved with a past atrocity ring a bit hollow. Like Clinton apologizing for slavery or a german chancellor making another remorseful stateent about the holocaust-- it was horrible, but you didn't do it and most of the people waiting for the apology weren't there, either. I have a feeling that the Turkish government saying "We're sorry!" wouldn't change many opinions, so I can see why they just don't discuss it.

The armenian community in Boston gathers in Copley Square every year for comemoration. They're right to do that. But they hand out leaflets strongly insinuating that modern Turks are somehow responsible.

The anniversary is pretty close to Greek independence day. The two communities should combine the commemorations into one Whacking Day against New England's turks because it's pretty obvious that they'd like it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:54 AM on April 14, 2005


Mayor Curley, I think at least admitting that it indeed happened is far more important than the actual apology.
posted by swordfishtrombones at 10:57 AM on April 14, 2005


I don't think the Armenian community is saying modern Turks are responsible for the genocide. I do think that they are upset, rightly, that the Turkish government continues to deny that a genocide took place.
posted by jeffmshaw at 10:59 AM on April 14, 2005


Curley, it's not just that the Turks haven't apologized, it's that they claim that it never happened. Imagine the scandal that would occur if Clinton said that slavery never happened, or if the German chancellor was a holocaust denier.
posted by unreason at 11:00 AM on April 14, 2005


Russia & France have officially declared it a genocide, but the US has not officially made the claim.
REP. KENNEDY CALLS ON ADMINISTRATION TO CONFRONT TURKEY’S DENIAL OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE
The Armenian Assembly today praised Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), a member of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, for calling on the Bush Administration to openly deal with Turkey’s continued policy of denial of the Armenian Genocide and to support a congressional resolution reaffirming this crime against humanity.

Kennedy, in a statement issued last week before Congress, said the Administration’s reluctance to address the issue stems from its refusal to alienate Turkey at a time when Washington is seeking to repair relations with Ankara.
From September:
A Position John Kerry Has Held for 20 Years
What do Canada, France, the Vatican and Presidential hopeful John Kerry have in common? Armenian Genocide. "Between 1915-1923 the rulers of the old Ottoman Empire killed or deported over 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children in a systematic policy of ethnic extermination." John Kerry -- April 22, 2004. In August 2004, Kerry pledged, "as President, I will continue to fight against the denial of the Armenian Genocide." But under both Democratic and Republic administrations, President Reagan, President Bush, Sr., and President Clinton, the Armenian Genocide resolution didn't pass both houses.
posted by jenleigh at 11:04 AM on April 14, 2005


The "mayor" seems to take a position taken by Holocaust deniers: it never happened. No one in his or er right mind expects apologies for something done undeer others some time ago, but histrical accuracy at least calls for making sure that ilt is in the history books as it happened. There is a display of this at the Holocaust museuym in DC and yet our govt (U.S.) will not go on record because it might upset our allies,Turkey, and so we pretend that it never took place. Those who can not remember the past etc etc
posted by Postroad at 11:11 AM on April 14, 2005


Orhan Pamuk -- whose novels My Name Is Red and Snow have made him probably the most well-known Turkish author in this country -- has recently gotten into a spot of trouble in his own country for taking a stand on the reality of the genocide.
posted by BT at 11:12 AM on April 14, 2005


I definitely agree that they should acknowledge the atrocity. I learned something today.

I don't think the Armenian community is saying modern Turks are responsible for the genocide.

The certainly do as individuals. True anecdote: On an anniversary of the massacre, I was approached by two little girls (about 10 years old) who handed me a 4.25x11 leaflet.

One said "We're asking people to remember the Armenian genocide."

The other added "By turks."

And then they both spat. I'm assuming they probably picked that up from their parents or maybe grandparents.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:13 AM on April 14, 2005


Wikipedia's "talk" page about the "disputed" Armenian Genocide is, at times, fascinating and very indicative of the nature of the debate and the strong feelings on both sides.
posted by loquax at 11:14 AM on April 14, 2005


But they hand out leaflets strongly insinuating that modern Turks are somehow responsible.
Yes those Turks are probably too concerned about their country's behavior towards Cypriots and Kurds to spare sympathy for the Armenians of the distant past. They're just water under the bridge at this point.
posted by fleacircus at 11:16 AM on April 14, 2005


The "mayor" seems to take a position taken by Holocaust deniers: it never happened.

Did I not acknowledge the reality of the massacre in my first post? Liken me to a holocaust denier again and I'll take a position taken by your proctologist, but not nearly as gently.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:18 AM on April 14, 2005


This is like trying to get Dubya to admit he's ever made a mistake.
Ain't gonna happen, too reality based.
posted by nofundy at 11:22 AM on April 14, 2005


Bah -- not that anyone's probably noticed, but I should correct the sloppy grammar in my post about Orhan Pamuk: I meant to say that, in America, he's probably the most well-known among writers from Turkey. Not that Pamuk himself is "in this country."

You may now return to your regularly scheduled dustup...
posted by BT at 11:31 AM on April 14, 2005


Mayor Curley, it's within Armenians' rights to continue to hate the Turks.

The Armenians are saying that the Turks should do the right thing and admit that the genocide happened. I don't think it's fair to say (as it seems like you're implying) that the Armenians should then do the right thing and stop hating the Turks.

Regarding the responsibility that modern Turks ought or ought not to feel: I remember having a conversation with a young African-American friend years ago, where he was arguing the point that I (a White American Male, co-incidentally of Armenian descent) had a responsibility to be mindful of the historical plight of black Americans.

I pointed out (as modern Turks likely do) that I wasn't alive then, and I deplored slavery and the treatment of black Americans since abolition, so I had no reason to feel personal guilt or responsibility.

His response was that while it was true that I wasn't personally involved, that I nevertheless have benefitted from the residual inequality in our society. And he's right, in a broad sense at least.
posted by dammitjim at 11:35 AM on April 14, 2005


The "mayor" seems to take a position taken by Holocaust deniers: it never happened.

Uh, yeah, Postroad, he didn't say anything of the kind. Can I call Godwin's-Law-by-proxy? God knows a conversation is unsalvageable once someone has called someone else a holocaust denier.
posted by scarabic at 11:43 AM on April 14, 2005


So what? It's not my job to apologize for things my great-grandfather did.

Heh. Just think of it from the other side of the table. Are you supposed to not care that your great-grandfather was killed? The consequences of the event are quite palpable to real people living today. Why should the descendents of the perpetrators, and successive regimes of the same government, be allowed to disassociate themselves and write the events off as old news? Either it didn't happen, or it was incredibly wrong and must be learned from and never repeated. It's also reasonable to consider reparations.
posted by scarabic at 11:47 AM on April 14, 2005


A nice Flash site on the subject.
posted by jenleigh at 12:04 PM on April 14, 2005


It is fundamentally in the interest of all humanity to establish a truthful history and acknowledge the consequences of decisions made throughout that history.

History is an important teacher. Further, why would anyone deny a genocide? The motive can only be to obtain an advantage of some kind in the present.
posted by ewkpates at 12:06 PM on April 14, 2005


I'm going to ignore the strange direction this thread has turned and commend jenleigh on the thread: I was considering posting something very similar awhile ago, but never got around to it (the 90th anniversary is a good reason to do it, too).

For anyone that's interested, there's a couple good fiction books that deal with the genocide (at least in part): Nancy Kricorian's Zabelle and Kurt Vonnegut's Bluebeard, both of which I'd recommend, especially for the interesting commentary about displaced people.
posted by The God Complex at 12:07 PM on April 14, 2005


I would also recommend the play "Beast On The Moon".
posted by kyrademon at 12:09 PM on April 14, 2005


I think the onus is clearly on Turkey here to admit that the genocide happened, and to work toward some sort of reconciliation. Turkey's continued refusal (and I'm something of a Turkophile myself) to recognize that the atrocity in fact took place is a continuing bitter insult to those who lost family and friends.

As for reparations, that would be something for Turkey and Armenia to work out, though I really don't see it happening, but the obvious first step is for Turkey to honestly confront its own relatively recent past.
posted by Ty Webb at 12:10 PM on April 14, 2005


dammitjim: "...it's within Armenians' rights to continue to hate the Turks."

I don't think that's exactly what you meant to say. Racial hatred isn't really a 'right,' no matter what one's people have been through. 'Hating' and 'holding accountable' are two different things.

posted by koeselitz at 12:11 PM on April 14, 2005


...and I should say: this is an important point. Armenians who feel it their duty to spit on Turks and call them names to their children are only hurting themselves at this point. There is another way. And I say this as someone who values very highly the eastern communities of the church, seeing in them the first source of Christianity.
posted by koeselitz at 12:14 PM on April 14, 2005


There is no doubt that Turkey needs to come clean and confront the genocide. It was a genocide, and it was real. It will benefit Turkey in the long run to do this, because it only builds anger against them the longer they stall.

It's also quite an interesting lesson in victimhood. If you are a rich or politically connected victim, you can get at least some measure of justice, if you are a poor or politically insignificant it will be very difficult. Or if it is simply politically inconvenient, you may get pushed aside even if you are rich and/or connected.
posted by chaz at 12:14 PM on April 14, 2005


fleacircus: ...their country's behavior towards Cypriots...

Really? I thought that the Turkish Army invaded after the island's Greek government attempted to take over the entire island. Anyway, I don't see how that example or the Kurdish one is applicable, other than to insinuate that Turks are by nature genocidal (i.e. it was my belief that the Kurdish dispute was more related to land rights than racial or religious differences, just as in Cyprus).
posted by billysumday at 12:16 PM on April 14, 2005


posted by koeselitz at 3:11 pm est

Good call koeselitz.
posted by nofundy at 12:18 PM on April 14, 2005


I'm with the mayor's main point on this one. People spend way too much time looking back instead of forward just in general, and sometimes beating themselves and others up for past crimes that neither had anything to do with. It's just basically dysfunctional to take all of history, even recent, too personally.

However:

This is not to say a) it never happened b) it shouldn't be officially recognized c) that no one should care d) that we shouldn't take the lesson to avoid it happening again e) that we shouldn't honour the dead f) that we shouldn't offer comfort and support to those still struggling with the collective memory
posted by scheptech at 12:21 PM on April 14, 2005


No Internet discussion of the Armenian genocide is complete without a mention of one of its most famous deniers, Serdar Argic. The first major example of what we'd now probably call blog-spamming, way back in the dim mists of 1994, just after Endless September.

See also Ken MacLeod's Fall Revolution books, which make passing reference to the bots and bots like them.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:44 PM on April 14, 2005


Mayor Curley is right. Those in this thread ganging up on Curley are being silly. Apologizing for it, even acknowledging it happened, ain't gonna bring anybody back from the dead and it ain't gonna make what happened any different. It's futile: "chasing in the wind," as Solomon might say.

So it happened? So what? Those bones are dead and buried on both sides, and "remembering" in order to stir up more hate is counterproductive to progress. They act as if they cornered the market on prejudice. Armenians versus Turks. Jews versus Muslims. African americans versus WASPs. Hatfileds versus McCoys. Bite me. Every single one of ya can haul off and bite my ass! See my butt?? BITE THIS BUTT!

I wish all these people who hate one another would just get the genocide over with and kill each other, so those of us who prefer arguing over really important things like Star Wars trivia, which one was the best Enterprise captain, Mac users versus PC users, and the quality of inexpensive porn in modern day society, can get on with our lives without being interrupted by the whinings of hateful and spiteful crybabies. "Ooh yer great grandpa hurt my great grandpa so ah'm a gonna teach my great grandson to spit on yer great grandson!"

Give me a freakin' break. LET THEM! Let them kill each other off once and for all, so those of us who don't wallow in racial hate can truly live in peace. You wanna be "one of them" a racial stereotype and froth at the mouth? Go jump in that hole over there and fight amongst yourselves. When the dust is settled, we'll fill the hole up with dirt and build a shopping center over it, with a big parking lot. We'll sell souvenirs in that shopping center that say, "my great grand daddy went to the massive genocide and all I got was this stupid t-shirt."
posted by ZachsMind at 12:50 PM on April 14, 2005


Dear Mayor--I apologize. I guess I had gone overboard. It is true that you do not deny the genocide took place. There is a book by Simon Wisenthal in which a dying nazi guard summons in to his bedside a Jewish camp survivor and asks for forgiveness. The question is then left to commentators--many distinguished writers and thinkers--if he ought to be forgiven. Basically their answer seems to be that No. He can not forgive that which was done by others.

But our govt has denied the Armenian tragedy and the Turkish govt has denied it...

As for you bing a proctologist etc--I am no sure what turns you on but I am seldom amused or aroused by the proctologist doing what he has been trained to do and for my well being...and you just would not be able to carry out that which you suggest.
posted by Postroad at 12:51 PM on April 14, 2005


I'm with Mayor Surly, for once.

I'd like a formal apology from the English and its royalty for subjugating Welsh culture and people all these many centuries.

I'm not holding my breath, though, and I have other fish to fry.

I wish Christians all the luck in the world for the many crosses they obviously bear, even from generations past, but suggest they move on, just like the rest of us.
posted by AlexReynolds at 12:53 PM on April 14, 2005


If I see any Welsh culture I will be sure to apologise for subjugating it Alex.

And Tom Jones doesn't count.
posted by longbaugh at 12:59 PM on April 14, 2005


Yes, good call, koeselitz. I didn't mean that it was some inalienable right, more that it was their prerogative. But your point - that maintaining the hate is destructive - is taken.

I think that collective shame for one's collective (tribal, national, regional, whatever) distasteful past is constructive, though. It's not enough to simply look forward and tell yourself that what's done is done, and that you're a good person and that you wouldn't do such things.

It's just basically dysfunctional to take all of history, even recent, too personally.

See, I think this is a very self-centered position to take. You are not the reference point for all recent history. We all fit into the continuum of politics, war, and human conflict in some way. So it is personal, and it's arrogant to tell someone else to get over it, whatever it is. Yes, it's "better" to deal and move on, but it's not right to impatiently demand that others do so.
posted by dammitjim at 1:01 PM on April 14, 2005


And Tom Jones doesn't count.

I'd say that's a given.
posted by AlexReynolds at 1:05 PM on April 14, 2005


I wish Christians all the luck in the world for the many crosses they obviously bear, even from generations past, but suggest they move on, just like the rest of us.

Alex: are you saying that because you think they need to move on, or because they're Christians? What would you think if someone posting on slave reparations said:

"I wish Black people all the luck in the world for the many crosses they obviously bear, even from generations past, but suggest they move on, just like the rest of us."

In any case, Christians in any country don't exactly have the market cornered on historical vendettas.
posted by dhoyt at 1:13 PM on April 14, 2005


Dear Alex,

Sorry about that whole subjugation thing.

Sincerely,

The English
posted by unreason at 1:13 PM on April 14, 2005


...and good post, jenleigh.
posted by dhoyt at 1:13 PM on April 14, 2005


It's worth noting that Armenians, by in large, are not asking for reparations and not asking for modern Turks to apologize to modern Armenians, but to simply acknowledge that the genocide happened. I imagine it's difficult to "just move on" when the culpable party outright denies something so awful ever occurred.
posted by dhoyt at 1:17 PM on April 14, 2005


So it happened? So what? Those bones are dead and buried on both sides, and "remembering" in order to stir up more hate is counterproductive to progress.

Don't generalize that all folks are remembering to stir up more hate. I'm of Armenian descent and I remember for a bunch of reasons, but truly I really would rather not stir up any hate. I'm very much upset by the denial by the Turks, but when I meet people from Turkey or of Turkish descent I surely don't spit on them.

To understand the whole situation better, I highly recommend Black Dog of Fate by Peter Balakian.

Personally, when the Genocide anniversary rolls around, I tend to think of my uncle -- who is still living. He was born in Van (Turkey). His mother and sisters were burned to death inside a church and his father was stabbed to death by Turkish soldiers while he lay on top of a hole he had dug to hide his small son in. I just wish Turkey would acknowledge that this happened while my uncle is still alive.
posted by jdl at 1:31 PM on April 14, 2005


ok then, and this is also not to say e) we should consider ourselves the reference point for all recent history f) we should be arrogant g) we should impatiently demand that others move on
posted by scheptech at 1:35 PM on April 14, 2005


"I wish Black people all the luck in the world for the many crosses they obviously bear, even from generations past, but suggest they move on, just like the rest of us."

Still beating your husband, eh?
posted by AlexReynolds at 1:38 PM on April 14, 2005


Alex: are you saying that because you think they need to move on, or because they're Christians?

Yeah, I wondered about that, too.

Millions of people were slaughered or died of starvation after being put on a forced march into the Syrian desert; most of them seem to be asking for some official story as a backdrop for their suffering, which really isn't that much to ask. Also, for those of you snarking about it being ancient history, I ask you to imagine, perhaps, a five-year-old boy marched into the desert at gunpoint, walking for days passed the decomposing, maggot-ridden bodies of his countrymen and women (maybe his family). Conceivably he could be 87-90 years old today and still very much alive; alternatively, there are, I'm sure, a number of people who grew up with parents that had survivor's guilt and never forgot the horrors they experienced. Your reaction is, of course, a rather comfortable one, but I think I'll take a pass on that one.


The armenian community in Boston gathers in Copley Square every year for comemoration. They're right to do that. But they hand out leaflets strongly insinuating that modern Turks are somehow responsible.


I think I'd harbour a pretty healthy resentment towards modern Turks that failed to acknowledge that the genocide happened. I think I might even be capable of hating that kind of ignorance. Now, whether or not they're blaming them is another matter entirely, but the angry sentiments are hardly unreasonable (even if they're not helpful).
posted by The God Complex at 1:47 PM on April 14, 2005


Some of the comments made here are ignorant, insensitive, and downright cruel. Systematically ignoring other people's legitimate grievances opens the door for more trouble. This was an attempt by one group of people to annihilate another. It was not that long ago. Tensions between these peoples still exist today, and without even an admission of wrongdoing, no progress can be made to repair the relationship. As Americans, we should at least be mindful that our government representatives have consistently backed Turkey on many issues since WWII due to geopolitical considerations and this sticks in the craw of other countries who get shortchanged in the process. But, those damn Armenians are holding a grudge. Cyprus? Not vacationing there anytime soon. It's not my problem. Whatever, dude. I guess I'm with the fundies today.
posted by a_day_late at 1:49 PM on April 14, 2005


Still beating your husband, eh?

Artful dodge.

Certainly if Armenians, who endured a genocide which possibly killed nearly a million people, are expected to "move on", then so should African-Americans who have been free from slavery for well over 100 years.

I'm asking if your attitude toward Christianity is coloring your response, or if you generally think everyone with a history of subjugation—African-Americans, Armenians, Jews and so forth—should "just move on". It's a legitimate question.
posted by dhoyt at 1:49 PM on April 14, 2005


Have the Tutsis gotten over their little spanking at the hands of the Hutus yet? Nearly 11 years ago, geez! Some people never let go . . .
posted by hackly_fracture at 2:03 PM on April 14, 2005


"Also, for those of you snarking about it being ancient history, I ask you to imagine, perhaps..."

Wallow wallow wallow-- Y'know what? Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people. I don't know why. Some people use this as proof to the nonexistence of God. Most religions I've heard about seem to agree on one thing: their God doesn't force His/Her/Its will on mankind. Whatever we do to each other, God ain't to blame for it.

God doesn't kill people during genocides: human beings do. Not just [insert your favorite racial or cultural term here], but human beings. I'm sure my siblings and I did some terrible things to each other growing up, but I don't call them on the phone today and ask them to acknowledge it. Why? Cuz I grew up. If mankind doesn't grow up, we'll be the cause of our own destruction.

"Some of the comments made here are ignorant, insensitive, and downright cruel..."

Comments are cruel. Sure. What racist bigots do to one another is ignorant, insensitive and cruel too. I'm not being cruel. I'm being dismissive, because lending credence to this human immaturity that one group of humans has more credence or deserves more than any other, only fuels the fire and perpetuates the hate.

"Tensions between these peoples still exist today, and without even an admission of wrongdoing, no progress can be made to repair the relationship."

No. Admission of wrongdoing for generations past will do nothing positive or negative toward repairing any relationship between hateful members of the various groups in question. People who want to hate will continue to do so, until they either get over themselves, or they cause one another's extinction.

Only when we all stop being [insert your favorite racial or cultural term here] and start being fellow members of this planet, and realize we're all alone on this spinning rock in space, will there be any 'repairing' of any 'relationship.' And no, I'm not talking about a global government world order that forces subjugation. I'm talking about people realizing we're alone on this rock, and we either learn to live with one another, or we don't. It's as simple as that.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:11 PM on April 14, 2005


billysumday:
Really? I thought that the Turkish Army invaded after the island's Greek government attempted to take over the entire island.
There was a shaky Greece-backed coup, but Turkey then immediately invaded, took over half the island, carried out an ethnic cleansing, and declared N. Cyprus a separate country which no one in the world except Turkey acknowledges.. they have tens of thousands of troops and non-Cypriot colonists brought in from Turkey. This is all way over the top of the original justification for the invasion, and they've been stonewalling for about 30 years. There's plenty of stupid pride and dumbness to go around, but the EU's "Cyprus problem" is with Turkey for a reason.

Anyway, I don't see how that example or the Kurdish one is applicable, other than to insinuate that Turks are by nature genocidal (i.e. it was my belief that the Kurdish dispute was more related to land rights than racial or religious differences, just as in Cyprus).
I'm not sure what distinction you're drawing, they all look like cases of deliberate "kick out the non-Turks and take over their homeland"-type policies to me, separated in time of course. I'm not insinuating anything about the nature of the Turkish people, but thanks for insinuating I insinuated it :)

My point was that if one refuse to apologize for the past, while showing no desire to apologize for the present, there's a problem. You no doubt show pride of the positive things from your ancestry -- it's not like you discard your entire heritage saying "that wasn't me personally." So maybe the motivation of people to spit is not so shocking.
posted by fleacircus at 2:19 PM on April 14, 2005


If it didn't happen, whence the term "Starving Armenians"?
Will reparations be made? Will England's Elizabeth II return the Irish lands appropriated by Elizabeth I?
Will the society described by ZachsMind ever emerge?
posted by Cranberry at 2:22 PM on April 14, 2005


Wallow wallow wallow-- Y'know what? Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people. I don't know why. Some people use this as proof to the nonexistence of God. Most religions I've heard about seem to agree on one thing: their God doesn't force His/Her/Its will on mankind. Whatever we do to each other, God ain't to blame for it.

God doesn't kill people during genocides: human beings do. Not just [insert your favorite racial or cultural term here], but human beings. I'm sure my siblings and I did some terrible things to each other growing up, but I don't call them on the phone today and ask them to acknowledge it. Why? Cuz I grew up. If mankind doesn't grow up, we'll be the cause of our own destruction.


I honestly have no idea what you're talking about, but your five-cent philosophies and observations about manking are intriguing. Do you have a newsletter I can subscribe to?

(this is an elaborate joke, right?)
posted by The God Complex at 2:32 PM on April 14, 2005


(mankind, even, although manking could be an interesting short-lived UPN comedy).
posted by The God Complex at 2:32 PM on April 14, 2005


I am married into the Armenian culture, and as much as I love and am fascinated by my new family, the whole genocide thing is extremely depressing. I cannot tell you how often it comes up in casual conversation. Talk about a culture with a major chip on its shoulder.

My wife has been brought up to essentially hate Turks, although she does not do so openly. We have had frequent debates about how we plan to bring up our children. While she rightly wishes our children to be aware of their history and heritage, I would like to do all I can to prevent nurturing racial hatred. It is obviously a touchy subject. Thankfully we live in Canada where all ethnicities seem to get along pretty well.

The diaspora has produced healthy pockets of Armenians all over the world. While there is tremendous snobbery among Armenians with respect to countries of origin (even disdain for the apparently "backward" first generation Armenians), I find it fascinating and sad that they all seem united in commiseration over the genocide.
posted by wrongbutton at 2:34 PM on April 14, 2005


ok, let me get this straight:

- it's okay for a country to continue to take pride in great and wonderful things that were done in its past even if no one, or only a very small number, now living was alive when it happened: e.g., all the great past accomplishments of turkish civilization, the american revolution, westward expansion (ignoring, of course, what happened to the native americans), the triumphs of the allies in ww 2, etc.

-- if a country did something bad that no one, or only a very small number, now living was alive for, then the descendants of the people to whom that bad thing happened need to shut the fuck up and move on, b/c no one who is alive now had anything to do with it, "we" need to forget about it, and certainly the population to whom the bad thing happened has nothing to complain about nowadays b/c the rest of "us" have moved on, so, again, shut the fuck up: e.g., the armenian genocide, slavery in the u.s., etc.

is that pretty much how it works?
posted by lord_wolf at 2:35 PM on April 14, 2005


ZachsMind, you philosophical rant sounds good but leaves me cold and empty. I am human. I need compassion and understanding and you give me platitudes. I am not Armenian nor do I speak for anyone here but, if an Armenian person/family still feels this, I can have compassion without hating Turks. I can ask for justice without vengeance. Governments, it's easy for them to take responsibility. No person gets blamed. Yes, we did it, we are now sorry, and we will discuss what is needed to make it right. No one goes to jail. No one gets the the donkey's tail pinned on him/her and what if it costs you a few pieces of gold? Talk about getting along on this spinning rock, that's not much to ask.

And, when does the forgetting start? Would you ask a bleeding victim in the gutter to forget his attacker of 2 minutes ago because the attacker is now long gone and hate will only fester and pollute our planet? Can people not ask for compassion and justice without being called cry-babies or vigilantes?

I think you mean well (at least I hope so), but stop for a minute and try to put yourself in the position of some of these people. Try to feel what they feel. That will not make you or anyone else hate Turks or anyone else. I argue the exact opposite will take place.
posted by a_day_late at 2:36 PM on April 14, 2005


It's easy to hate one another, back and forth forever. It's hard to forgive.

Unchecked, hatred and intolerance breed more of the same in an endless cycle. Children are taught to carry it forward beyond living memory and right here we have people, who don't even know each other and had nothing personally to do with it at all, calling names, ascribing the most vile attributes to one another... see how it works?

Although it may be arrogant to ask others to cease hating each other, I guess I'll just have to live it. Please stop, there is no other way forward.
posted by scheptech at 2:38 PM on April 14, 2005


Interesting side note: among the Armenians I know, Turkish is the preferred language for cursing and swearing.
posted by wrongbutton at 2:47 PM on April 14, 2005


Artful dodge.

From you, I suppose that's a compliment.

Certainly if Armenians, who endured a genocide which possibly killed nearly a million people, are expected to "move on", then so should African-Americans who have been free from slavery for well over 100 years.

Whatever you want. I don't follow your warped reasoning but if it feels good, do it.

I'm asking if your attitude toward Christianity is coloring your response, or if you generally think everyone with a history of subjugation—African-Americans, Armenians, Jews and so forth—should "just move on". It's a legitimate question.

No, dhoyt, I think jenleigh's mention of Christianity is coloring my response. There is no mention of the Armenian Jews who suffered just as much from the Turk-led jihad.
posted by AlexReynolds at 2:58 PM on April 14, 2005


Jenleigh's quote about "Christian Armenian minority" was exactly that—a quote. Which was linked.

So you're dodging. Again.

I think Mayor Curley is the only other person whose position was of the "just move on" variety, and even he relented. So I'm asking: is your "just move on" response limited to the hundreds of thousands of dead Armenians, or should it be applied to other subjugated peoples? Should Blacks "move on" since slavery was so long ago? Tutsis? I sense you feel these folks should quit their bellyaching, but I'm wondering how that qualifies as a thoughtful solution, and hoping you'll elaborate.
posted by dhoyt at 3:07 PM on April 14, 2005


Should Blacks "move on" since slavery was so long ago? Tutsis? I sense you feel these folks should quit their bellyaching, but I'm wondering how that qualifies as a thoughtful solution, and hoping you'll elaborate.

Let me know when you stop beating your husband.
posted by AlexReynolds at 3:10 PM on April 14, 2005


The Turkish government has in fact NOT been silent on this -- they're actively denying it ever happened, and they use all means necessary to try and stop any commemoration of the Genocide.

Some 15-20 years back Quebec's government wanted to have a commemoration (there is a sizeable Armenian population in Montreal) but plans were shelved when Turkey threatened to retaliate by curbing Turkish tourism to the area. This is by no means the only instance of that sort of behaviour.
posted by clevershark at 3:10 PM on April 14, 2005


Let me know when you stop beating your husband.

*yawn*

This thread is going nowhere. Thanks again, jenleigh. Also, so I feel like I've contributed something positive here, I reiterate that everyone should check out those two novels.
posted by The God Complex at 3:14 PM on April 14, 2005


Perhaps Mayor Curley should work up the courage to walk into a synagogue and tell the people assembled inside to "get over" the Holocaust because it happened 60 years ago.
posted by clevershark at 3:20 PM on April 14, 2005


Look, this is not just a matter of ancient history. Nor is it simply about the Turks issuing a symbolic apology to make the Armenians feel better. It's not just about the past, it's about the present.

Turkey has had an undeclared policy of destroying Armenian churches, in an attempt to erase the physical evidence of the Armenian presence in the country. (See William Dalrymple's excellent book, From the Holy Mountain, for further details.) This is as if the US government were to raze all archaeological evidence of Native American settlements in order to give the impression that there was no significant human presence in North America before the arrival of European settlers.

Turkey also continues to prohibit discussion of the Armenian massacres. Leave aside, for the moment, the questions about whether the massacres were 'genocide' in the strict sense of the term, or whether Turkey should apologise for them. This is an infringement of the basic right to freedom of speech. And if Turkey wants to be accepted into the European Union, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect the Turkish government, at the very least, to lift the current restrictions and permit a full scholarly and public discussion of this episode in its history.

So please spare me the empty philosophising about how we need to put aside our differences and learn to love each other a little more. This is a much more practical issue than most people seem to realise, and it needs to be addressed in specific and tangible ways -- like persuading the Turkish government to stop bulldozing Armenian churches.
posted by verstegan at 3:28 PM on April 14, 2005


Alex: I think if you expect anyone to take your position seriously, it would behoove you to come up with an intelligent response—and not the preening schoolyard stuff about "Coming from you that's a compliment!" and "When did you stop beating your husband"—since you made a comment earlier that at least a few of us don't really understand. Do you have a thoughtful explanation of the "just get over it" philosophy, or not?

From the Vancourier:
Despite most Canadians' lack of knowledge regarding what many historians call the 20th century's first genocide, Deragopian, though two generations removed from the terrors of 1915, retains vivid stories of the events passed down through his family. His grandparents, both maternal and paternal, survived to keep an oral history alive.

"We don't think it's right to say it happened, it's over, get over it," said Deragopian. "It is a long time in the past, but the fact is we will always commemorate it because it is such a significant event in Armenian history. And it is because of the denial that we have been so active."

The refusal by Turkey to recognize the massacres as genocide is a primary reason why Armenians want recognition, Turkey, which doesn't hold diplomatic relations with Armenia, claims describing the events of 1915 as genocide is erroneous.
posted by dhoyt at 3:45 PM on April 14, 2005


Perhaps Mayor Curley should work up the courage to walk into a synagogue and tell the people assembled inside to "get over" the Holocaust because it happened 60 years ago.

Perhaps clevershark shouldn't fabricate quotes. Where did I say "get over" anything? If we're playing that kind of shit:

I wonder if clevershark would have the guts to walk into the Animal Rescue League and tell the folks working there "I fuck my dog."

Quotation marks add an air of authority, don't they?
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:28 PM on April 14, 2005


as we all wait for dhoyt to stop beating his husband, for Mayor Curley to start fisting Postroad and for clevershark to fuck his dog and maybe even a shark, here's some interesting reading material:

Henry Morgenthau, American Ambassador to Turkey back in the carnage years: Shall Armenia Perish?
Ambassador Morgenthau wrote two excellent books that are currently in print

Here's Morgenthau's grandson a couple weeks ago in the Boston Globe

good stuff in the AZG Armenian Daily: GENOCIDE ACKNOWLEDGMENT: A DEAD END?

posted by matteo at 4:31 PM on April 14, 2005


What jdl, dhoyt, a_day_late, clevershark, and verstegan said. And wtf, ZachsMind?
posted by Sonny Jim at 5:28 PM on April 14, 2005


I think more people would respect Turkey (as I do) if Turks would get over the "Everyone Hates Turkey because of Armenians and Kurds" mentality. I've been to Turkey three times, and know dozens of Turks. I really like the country (and Mayor Curley), but damn, acknowledging the genocide of Armenians and repression of Kurds would go a long way to breaking down anti-Turkish sentiment. The repression of history and worship of Ataturk is fucking creepy.

I highly recommend Atom Egoyan's Ararat. It looks at the Armenian memory of the holocaust in an interesting way.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:36 PM on April 14, 2005


BTW, one my ancestors held slaves in Virginia. I do understand how African Americans might curse his memory. That wouldn't anger me. What he did was pretty damn horrible.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:44 PM on April 14, 2005


Thanks to everyone who posted great links, and special thanks to jenleigh for this one. I'm learning a lot.
posted by mediareport at 1:16 AM on April 15, 2005


To echo what others have said above, the point is that the Turks, as a nation, allowed for the killing of over a million people in their own country. This makes one think that they are capable of doing something like this again, particularly since not only do they refuse to apologize for it, they don't even acknowledge it happened.

Contrast this situation with the one in present day Germany. The Germans feel a great sense of embarrassment about what their countrymen an forefathers had done. Hearing them apologize over and over for the Holocaust makes me, at least, believe that such a massacre could not happen in modern Germany.
posted by epimorph at 1:52 AM on April 15, 2005


You got a point there epimorph.

In this thread, I've been calling for an end to the hatred through forgiveness. It would certainly help the Armenians to forgive but yes, I guess it wouldn't help the Turks much to be forgiven if their general population didn't understand there's anything to be forgiven for. So yeah, makes sense, the government admits what happened, the Turkish people learn, the Armenians forgive, and peace reigns. Could happen.
posted by scheptech at 6:30 AM on April 15, 2005


Oy. From the Turkish Embassy's website: Armenian Allegations of Genocide
Yet Armenian Americans have attempted to extricate and isolate their history from the complex circumstances in which their ancestors were embroiled. In so doing, they describe a world populated only by white-hatted heroes and black-hatted villains. The heroes are always Christian and the villains are always Muslim. Infusing history with myth, Armenian Americans vilify the Republic of Turkey, Turkish Americans, and ethnic Turks worldwide. Armenian Americans bent on this prosecution choose their evidence carefully, omitting all evidence that tends to exonerate those whom they presume guilty, ignoring important events and verifiable accounts, and sometimes relying on dubious or prejudiced sources and even falsified documents. Though this portrayal is necessarily one-sided and steeped in bias, the Armenian American community presents it as a complete history and unassailable fact.
posted by dhoyt at 7:17 AM on April 15, 2005


Most of my grandparents and aunts and uncles experienced this genocide directly. My grandmother had her parents murdered, had forgotten all her armenian, and was being raised as a muslim by a poor turkish farming family. When she heard that armenians were being reunited with surviving family members in Istanbul, she asked the head of the house if she could go, and he let her. She never had a bad thing to say about turks. She always differentiated between the government and the people. Armenian hatred of Turkey has more to do with the denial that it ever happened than with the actual event. Turkey, through the luck of geography, has had a good grip on the testicles of every american president on this issue, democrat or republican.
posted by abra at 8:52 AM on April 15, 2005


Thanks jenleigh for a good post.
posted by dabitch at 4:02 AM on April 17, 2005


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