2 years ago
Fatma Muge Gocek, now a professor of sociology at the University of Michigan, did not learn about the massacre of Armenian civilians as a student growing up in Turkey but began researching the topic after moving to the U.S. Her book Denial of Violence: Ottoman Past, Turkish Present and Collective Violence Against the Armenians 1789-2009 was published in November.
But such outspoken deviation from the official line does not come without its dangers. According to Boghossian, Turks who do so can be prosecuted under Turkish Penal Code 301, which makes it a crime to insult “Turkishness.” In the past, the code has been used against those who refer to the events of 1915 as “genocide.”
As for leaders outside of Turkey, there are other reasons to avoid the term that so riles the country, even if the violence itself is not downplayed. These reasons, as in the case of Obama’s avoidance of the term, are geopolitical: Turkey is seen as a key NATO ally. During the Cold War, Marsoobian notes, it was an important ally against the Soviet Union. Now Turkey is crucial in the fight against ISIS.
Obama famously promised as a presidential candidate in 2008 to use the g-word: “Armenian genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable,” he said at the time. “As president I will recognize the Armenian genocide.”
Yet he did not use the word in his remarks on Thursday, calling the events Meds Yeghern (an Armenian term roughly translated as “the Great Catastrophe”) instead and disappointing Armenian-Americans who have been lobbying for recognition of the genocide committed against their ancestors for years.
Newsweek is soft-selling Obama’s treachery by pointing to NATO membership (NATO is powerless and Turkey has never done a thing as member of NATO) and being a so-called “ally” in the fight against ISIS (an ally which doesn’t exist in a fight that is not occurring). This has been going on for a while.
April 24 marks the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, a massive tragedy that brutally snuffed out the lives of up to 1.5 million Armenian Christians in the Ottoman Empire.
It was a systematic attempt to exterminate an entire race of people. And now, on the one hundredth commemoration, President Obama joins those who deny it by refusing to call it was it was: genocide. This is the seventh time he’s retracted his 2008 election-year promise that if elected he would recognize the Armenian genocide.
And it’s important to remember the framework in which the genocide occurred.
The government made a point of disarming Armenians and sent police into villages to search for and confiscate any guns. The father of my grandfather was charged with having firearms and was imprisoned. They never saw him again.
ISIS also imposed gun control immediately upon takeover of the terrain under its control. Totalitarians fear weapons as the only threat to their supremacy. Do not ever allow yours to be confiscated. The next step is enslavement and death.