White House Refuses to Display 88-Year-Old Rug Made by Armenian Genocide Orphans, Probably Because Turkey Might Get Mad

Over there is the underground warehouse we will store it in 70 years from now on the odd chance that Turkey joins NATO and we need to fly over their air space in order to maintain military hegemony over the Middle East and North Africa. |||Whether in refusing to call a coup a "coup," or declining to call a genocide a "genocide" (despite multiple promises to the contrary) the willingness of the American government to torture the English language and evade basic truths in order to lessen some short-term diplomatic hassle is indicative of a deeper and more consequential moral rot, one that enables questionable foreign policy while invariably screwing over the little guy.

Or, if the White House's largely Democratic critics are to be believed, the little orphan. Or more accurately still, the great-grandchildren of genocide-orphans. I wish I was kidding. Here's Foreign Policy:

In 1926, Vartoohi Galezian -- a 15-year-old refugee from the genocide in Armenia -- arrived at the White House to pay a visit to President Calvin Coolidge. She had come to view the rug she and 1,400 other orphans living in Ghazir -- then part of mandate Syria, now in Lebanon -- had woven as a gift to the United States in thanks for the humanitarian assistance provided to the refugees of the ethnic cleansing of Armenians during World War I. In June 1995, the Ghazir rug, a huge, beautiful work exemplary of the Middle East's legendary weaving traditions, was shown once more to Galezian and her family, but it's now been more than 17 years since the White House has displayed what has come to be known as the Armenian orphan rug. Now it is unclear when the rug will ever be shown again.

The rug is now caught in a tug-of-war with historians and Armenian advocates on one side pulling for the rug to be displayed and the White House on the other, which seems reticent to release the rug for an exhibit. [...]

We regret to inform you that whatever we said about "the problem from hell" was just a way to get back into power, PSYCH! |||"We regret that it was not possible to loan it out for this event," Laura Lucas Magnuson, assistant press secretary for the National Security Council, told Foreign Policy. "Displaying the rug for only half a day in connection with a private book launch event, as proposed, would have been an inappropriate use of U.S. government property, would have required the White House to undertake the risk of transporting the rug for limited public exposure, and was not viewed as commensurate with the rug's historical significance."

Huh. So what was this not-appropriate-enough exhibit? A Dec. 16 event at the nearby Smithsonian to mark the release of A BOOK ABOUT THE RUG IN THE QUESTION. Swear to God. It is called President Calvin Coolidge and the Armenian Orphan Rug, by Dr. Hagop Martin Deranian, who the L.A. Times describes as “a 91-year-old Massachusetts dentist.” And yes, the same administration that is blocking this utterly sensical request is one that originally came to power by making pious promises like this:

More from the L.A. Times after the jump:

You should see all the stuff swept under it! |||Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), who helped gather the signatures of 30 other lawmakers on a letter to the White House, called the White House decision "as inexplicable as it is hurtful to the Armenian community."

"It is difficult to express in words how deeply troubling it is that a historical and cultural treasure accepted by President Coolidge on behalf of the people of the United States may be being kept behind closed doors because of Turkish desire to keep discussion of certain historical facts out of the public discussion," Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J), co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, wrote the White House in a separate letter.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) also wrote the White House urging that the rug be put on permanent display at the Smithsonian: "We must acknowledge and learn from the tragic crimes against humanity that orphaned the weavers of this rug to ensure that they are never repeated."

The White House's first public statement in response to this criticism was as dismissive as it was terse:

The Ghazir rug is a reminder of the close relationship between the peoples of Armenia and the United States. We regret that it is not possible to loan it out at this time.

I am sure the historically significant artifact is safely being studied by Top Men.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    That rug really tied our foreign policy together.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I laughed.

  • MJGreen||

    This aggression will not stand, man.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Say what you want about the tenets of Turkish Nationalism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Coolidge is standing on the rug! That heartless, small government monster!

  • ||

    Yeah. As a libertarian, it was disappointing because the title of the book led me to believe that the rug was made out of orphans.

  • ||

    Crap. Just read Enough About Palin's comment downthread.

  • Zeb||

    Yo, fuck Turkey. If they are going to be all sensitive about something that happened before anyone alive today was born (or near enough), too bad.

    I've always thought it was funny that they are so sensitive about that. Why not just say that it was the corrupt Ottoman regime that did the genocide and modern Turkey is better than that. I suppose it probably has something to do with the fact that they are still having wars with ethnic minority groups in Turkey.

  • tarran||

    It goes back to the origin myth of the Turkish Republic.

    It's basically justified as a Wilsonian ethnic republic (these were all the rage in the 1920's and 1930's becasue Woodrow Wilson was a racist fuck). It also is fascist using the French model.

    Attaturk basically picked the borders that they could militarily hold, and decreed anyone who lived there were ethnic Turks (eg. Kurds became mountain Turks etc). And they basically jailed/oppressed anyone who kept giving their kids Kursdish or Armenian names and spoke languages other than Turkish (or used an alphabet other than the Romanised Turkish alphabet).

    It's not just a question of reparations for the Armenian Genocide. Once the Turkish Republic admits that Armenians live in Turkey it is going to get messy. And Turks are very stubborn about not admitting error.

  • Zeb||

    Ah, yes. That's pretty fucked up. Thanks for the info.

    You were born in Turkey, no?

  • Raven Nation||

    And,it would be pretty hard to say that chronologically. The Armenian genocide was kicked off in the middle of WWI by the Young Turks who truncated most of the sultan's power.

  • Long Range Boredom||

    Speaking of the Young Turks, why exactly has no one called Cenk Uygur out on naming his news network after the people who started the Armenian Genocide?

  • Long Range Boredom||

    ...And a quick google search shows that Uygur was a denier in the 90s, then changed his position and claims that his use of 'Young Turks' refers to a progressive political movement. I'm sure he'd accept the same kind of logic from neo-Nazis.

  • Raven Nation||

    Related. I went looking for images of the Armenian genocide for lectures. Along the way I found Armenian Genocide Denial websites which are basically clones of Holocaust denial sites. Pretty bizarre.

  • optimusratiostultum||

    I remember reading about a story, (I can't for the life of me remember where) that goes like this...

    Himmler (or maybe it was Goebbels my memory sucks): "Aren't you worried about what history will think of you for your treatment of the jews?"

    Hitler: "who remembers the Armenians"

    now that story might be a crock of shit but I do know that Hitler was indeed inspired by Islamic Dhimmi laws, and other genocidal cultures throughout history.

  • Raven Nation||

    Yeah, I've heard that story too & I'm not sure about the truth of it either. But you can see the Nazis using it.

    The denial sites are creepy. I remember one arguing that no Armenians were murdered but many died of starvation & thirst. As I point out to my students, starvation & thirst are common when your captors put you on a train, take you to the edge of the desert, and, at gunpoint, tell you to start walking.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    Wow. Sounds like something the Parti Quebecois would love to run with. "Hey you! No English sounding name you pig!"

  • Loki||

    Why not just say that it was the corrupt Ottoman regime that did the genocide and modern Turkey is better than that.

    Works for the Germans: "It was the currupt Nazi regime that did the genocide and modern Germany is better than that."

    You did some bad shit in the past. Get over it. Most countries have skeletons in their closets.

  • Robert||

    So, if they're sensitive about it and we're not, why not accede to what they want? I'd even go for an official statement that it was an Armenian genocide vs. other Turks rather than vice versa. It's just words.

  • creech||

    Maybe Our Glorious Leader will hear about this at the 19th hole, make inquiries, and - of course - reprimand the retard that made this decision. And maybe he doesn't give a crap about the Armenian-American vote.

  • Matt Welch||

    Follow the links back especially in the opening graf -- he knows damned well about giving the finger to the Armenians he made incredibly extravagant promises to.

  • tarran||

    In Obama's calculus, Armenians only matter in Democratic primaries. They live in districts that go +30 for Democrats pretty reliably.

    You need Armenian support to reliably carry Massachusetts when contending with Hillary for the nomination, but after that you can count on their votes, even if you pee on one of the old mass graves in Iraq.

  • MJGreen||

    If he knew about the request to display the rug, he would've agreed!

    No one wants a top-notch Smithsonian exhibit more than Obama.

  • Almanian!||

    "I'm angier about this than anyone. And - let me be clear - I will not lift a finger to change a thing. I am THAT mad." - O

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    There's no sugar coating it. Turks were bad but Armenians should just get over it.

  • Enough About Palin||

    If a polar bear rug is made out of polar bears, then what is an Armenian Orphan rug made out of and where can I get one?

  • Generic Stranger||

    What, you don't already harvest the scalps of your dead and dieing child workers? Just what kind of libertarian are you?

  • DK||

    Why don't we just tell Turkey that the President pardons them around this time every year?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I can't believe I laughed at that.

  • RogerNorthup||

    Maybe they spilled grape juice on it, sent it out to be cleaned by Lucy and Ethel, and they've lost it! They're currently searching rug stores throughout the area, looking for a rug that looks exactly the same...

  • AlmightyJB||

    Why do we give a shit about Turkey again:)

  • GILMORE||

    Overflight privileges

  • AlmightyJB||

    What are they going to do? Shoot us down?

  • angus||

    Those carrying out the massacres were muslims, you can't appear to be islamophobic - not PC.

  • Robert||

    Do you get those for using a credit card?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Wow, he truly is Il Douche, as someone here called him.

    I couldn't even finish watching the Powers video.

    Damn, he literally pulled the rug out from under the Armenians.

    How about issuing a statement like this:

    "Because the international community only established and defined the crime of genocide after the Second World War, we can truly say that the Young Turks never committed genocide against the Armenians. To say otherwise would be an example of ex post facto jurisprudence.

    "So the only crime the Young Turks committed was murder - or more specifically, over a million murders. The crime of murder was not defined by human positive law, but its existence, and its wickedness, is established in the law written in the hearts of all human beings by "Nature and...Nature's God.""

    "We're glad to clarify this point."

  • Matt Welch||

    That is actually the most creative solution I've heard in 15 years of following this.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    That *could* be read as a compliment, so I'm just going to call it that.

    If I was a vain person, I'd be flattered by getting my comment noticed like this.

  • Almanian!||

    "Beloved Commenter, Eduard VH..."

    You know everyone hates you now?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    What if I was all modest and unpretentious and mingled with the common people, like the Pope? Would you like me then?

  • Almanian!||

    +1 fanboi!

  • Robert||

    Why not just say there's no such thing as a country named "Turkey" (yeah, like they expected that one to fly), nor "Armenians".

  • Swiss Servator, kirsch anyone?||

    "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!"

  • GILMORE||

    Has sanctimonious Samantha Power since peeped word-one about the Obama Admins' glorious foreign policy achievements, and its commitment to ending genocide/oppression/bad shit, etc all over the globe? (*when not droning children in Pakistan)

  • GILMORE||

    Oh, wait - right, she's the UN Ambassador now.

    So, did she quit after we bailed on Syria after making all sorts of a stink about it...?

    No, I guess she's still pulling a paycheck. I wonder how she spins our Drone Program to the third world?

  • Juice||

    Why are we always kissing Turkey's ass? Always.

  • BakedPenguin||

    See GILMORE above @ 5:37.

  • General Butt Naked||

    What are they gonna do, shoot us down?

  • Swiss Servator, kirsch anyone?||

    Not let us use Incirlik Adana AFB.

  • Christophe||

    I'd never heard about this rug. It's actually a wonderful story (well except for what's being done now).

  • Winston||

    You Know Else the Young Turks didn't....Ah shit. Damn you all!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Two questions:

    1) Which is the late-night open thread?

    2) On that thread, would you like me to link to the Scottsboro Boys story from Alabama, or the story from California about how they're repealing all their prolife laws?

  • angus||

    Rugs have open threads, you are in the right place.

  • Raven Nation||

    *applause*

  • JidaKida||

    Who cares, its an old rug!

    www.Anon-It.tk

  • thorax232||

    But who would show the rugs?

  • Matt Welch||

    This ranks right up there with my favorite threads ever.

  • Swiss Servator, kirsch anyone?||

    You are a real stitch.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    "Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business."

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