Wall Street Journal Has Historical Amnesia & Says “What Armenian Genocide?”

I don’t think anyone in the know is surprised that the Wall Street Journal published an editorial today (posted below) coming out against the U.S. Congressional resolutions that would simply state the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide and call it by its rightful name–GENOCIDE. But, it is disturbing that the editors have decided to turn a blind eye to the growing industry of hate that Turkey is funding.

Today it is Armenians, tomorrow it is Kurds, gays, or some other group that questions Turkey’s rigid and arcane notions of Turkishness.

But thankfully Armenian Americans and other human rights activists are not resting on their laurels and still working to pass the resolutions (H.Res. 106 & S.Res.106). The House is set to vote on October 10 (To make a difference, click on these links: ANCA & AAA).

Here are some other updates regarding Armenian Genocide news from across the country:

  • The LA Times reports that the recent resolution before Congress is set to pass the House;
  • once fired & now rehired ADL New England Director Andrew Tarsy penned an op-ed in a Newton, MA newspaper saying critics of the ADL’s No Place for Hate program are “going to far”–can you believe the chutzpah of this guy? Tarsy owes his job partially to the outrage of Armenian Americans at the ADL chief’s stupidity and now he’s trying to tame the critics? For shame!;
  • the Armenian Genocide plaque at San Francisco’s historic Mt. Davidson is still missing and Bay Area Armenian Americans have organized groups to look for the plaque and hopefully to figure out if it was indeed a hate crime;
  • SF community activist Zaven D. has prepared a site to keep people up-to-date on the latest news about the Mt. Davidson memorial theft (click here to see website);
  • former California Governor George Deukmejian created a video voicing his support for the H. Res. 106 and S.Res.106, which is parked on the Capitol Hill Broadcasting Network website (video here); and
  • in what can only be described as SURREAL and DISTURBING…last week officials from the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Congress and other groups met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and sat ideally by while the Turkish Denier-in-Chief said there was “no Armenian Genocide.” During the pow-wow, the ADL’s Abe “How Can I Sleep At Night While I Bury One Genocide while Championing Another” Foxman, according to MSNBC and the Jerusalem Postreiterated…that the issue should not be the subject of [a] congressional resolution.”

For those interested, here is the full Wall Street Journal editorial:

Politics and Genocide

October 4, 2007; Page A18

Most Members of Congress don’t know enough about U.S. history, much less anyone else’s. But that isn’t stopping the House of Representatives from trying to weigh in on a painful chapter of Ottoman history — and hurting U.S. interests in the bargain.

A pending resolution, co-sponsored by 226 Members, calls on President Bush to ensure that U.S. foreign policy “reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning . . . the Armenian Genocide” in 1915, when Turks carried out “the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1,500,000 Armenians.” The resolution isn’t binding, but Turkey can be forgiven for seeing an absence of “understanding and sensitivity” in that broadside.

As a general rule, legislatures in far-off countries ought to think carefully before judging another people’s history. It’s a fair bet that points are being scored with domestic lobbies, and playing with history often complicates current foreign policy. In this case, all of the above apply. The sponsor is Adam Schiff, a California Democrat whose district has a lot of Armenian-American voters. His adoption of the genocide cause helped him get elected in 2000 and made his “name in foreign affairs,” as the Los Angeles Times put it in 2005.

This Congressional free-lancing would put a strain on U.S. ties with a key Muslim ally in a tough neighborhood. If the resolution passes, the backlash in Turkey will be more than symbolic. In urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi to stop the resolution from reaching the floor for a vote, eight former U.S. Secretaries of State wrote last week that it “could endanger our national security interests in the region, including our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and damage efforts to promote reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey.”

Horrible massacres certainly took place during World War I in the Ottoman Empire, and the Turkish government has never been eager to discuss the Armenian question in good faith. But this history is more complex than either the genocide crusaders or official Turkish deniers are willing to concede.

To briefly recap: On April 24, 1915, the nationalist Young Turk government ordered the Armenians of eastern Anatolia deported en masse to Syria and Iraq. The Turks feared the Armenians were in cahoots with their enemy, Czarist Russia, and fighting to carve their own state out of a collapsing Ottoman Empire. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians died on their trek, murdered by Turkish or Kurdish fighters and marauders, or falling to disease, hunger and cold. The Ottoman War Crimes Tribunal, set up by the victorious allies after the war, estimated that 800,000 Armenians perished. Armenians put the toll at 1.5 million, which was about the entire Armenian population of Anatolia at the time.

In October 1984, when Congress considered a similar resolution, we wrote: “There can be little doubt that the Armenian repression was a terrible chapter in history and perhaps the Turks have been too insistent on denying guilt. But it was only one part of a global tragedy that claimed nearly 15 million lives. Dredging it up now in Congress, some 70 years after the event, may be a generous gesture toward Americans of Armenian descent but is hardly an appropriate signal to U.S. enemies.” Or to our Turkish friends.

{hat tip H.C.}

One response to “Wall Street Journal Has Historical Amnesia & Says “What Armenian Genocide?””

  1. kim holleman Avatar

    Do i need to point out the obvious here about the missing plaque?
    Okay, apparently I do. While the “community” in San Francisco is busy running around “looking ” for the plaque (how quaint), does anyone thing maybe perhaps, an artist or someone out there might put on a thinking cap and make something that either makes up for the message on the original plaque or creates a new plaque relating the theft of the plaque and why that is significant as well as other political issues re: Armenian Genocide, to the general public.

    Oh no, a MUCH better idea is just to leave the base blank while some hippies go off and search for the missing plaque. Very SF. Hi, guys on the left coast-how about being more pro-active?

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