Denial is a Former Congressman from Louisiana

|

I didn't get around to blogging this last week, but it's never too late to watch a former Speaker of the House deny the Armenian genocide. Bob Livingston, most famous for getting caught cheating on his wife by Larry Flynt, is, as the video's chyron makes clear, a paid agent of the Turkish government. In an awkward eight-minute ramble, he asks Congress to not recognize the Armenian genocide (sorry, "genocide") because, well, it was a long, long time ago and no one is really sure what happened…particularly Bob Livingston:


The Guenther Lewy article referenced in the video can be found here. Vahakn N. Dadrian, author of The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus, offers a detailed response toLewy here.

NEXT: Cox, Suckers!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Not to deny atrocities, but what exactly would come of Congress recognizing the Armenian genocide?

  2. Oh. My. God.

    This thread just sort of begs for a Godwin, doesn’t it?

  3. thoreau,

    Not really.

    shecky,

    Check out the French recognition process.

  4. He better recognize the Armenian genocide or the guys from System of a Down will have to open a can of whoop-ass.

    (Funny, spell check accepts “whoop-ass”)

  5. He never actually got to be Speaker, which is probably a good thing.

  6. (Even) the (Liberal) New Republic had a similar story a couple of weeks ago. Dick Gephardt does this, too – despite having once sponsored the bill calling for the U.S. government to recognize that genocide.

    Which is even more disgusting than Livignston, who at least didn’t have to flip flop.

    But even Gephardt doesn’t descend to the level of ADL president Abraham Foxman, who refuses to allow his group to take a position on the issue – a remarkably out-of-character step for that organization, which totally has nothing to do with Turkey’s status as Israel’s only ally in the region.

    Disgusting, the whole lot of ’em. Fortunately, with the Democrats having taken control of Congress, it is likely that the Armenian genocide will finally be recognized as such by the US – at least, the chances are better than they’ve been in the last dozen years.

  7. But even Gephardt doesn’t descend to the level of ADL president Abraham Foxman, who refuses to allow his group to take a position on the issue – a remarkably out-of-character step for that organization, which totally has nothing to do with Turkey’s status as Israel’s only ally in the region.

    You have to look and the repercussions of such a move:

    Gephardt and Livingston saying it happened: No big deal, most Americans have no idea about it anyway.

    Israel saying it happened: Potentially pissing off one of a few friends in an otherwise hostile part of the world.

  8. I guess none of us (unless we’re historians) can really say what happened 60 to 70 years ago in Europe. The German Nazis didn’t seek to kill Jews exclusively. They also killed homosexuals, handicapped, etc. That wasn’t an act of Genocide, it was an act of War. Obviously.

    What’s the biggie with saying that 90 years ago Turkey killed a bunch of Armenians? It must really piss the Germans off that the US recognizes the Holocaust.

    I’d like to see our congressmen come out in defense of the Holocaust deniers.

  9. ‘CAUSE GENOCIDE IS PAINLESS.
    IT BRINGS ON MANY CHANGES,
    AND I CAN TAKE OR LEAVE IT IF I PLEASE.
    . . .AND YOU CAN DO THE SAME THING IF YOU PLEASE.

  10. I had to turn that off halfway through. It’s hands down the grossest thing I’ve seen all day, and I had to wake up to a bathroom swarming with ants.

    Vae victis, I suppose… as long as we don’t need your help later.

  11. It took me a long time to figure out how to write that comment without indicating I’d like to see Mr. Livingston come to bodily harm, say, by eating an Armenian bullet. Free speech and all. But, damn.

  12. The word “genocide” didn’t exist in World War I, and in any event mass murder is wrong whatever label you might choose to put on it.

    This concession in Lewy’s article should settle the dispute:

    “The key issue in this controversy is not the extent of Armenian suffering; both sides agree that several hundred thousand Christians perished during the deportation of the Armenians from Anatolia to the Syrian desert and elsewhere in 1915-16. With little notice, the Ottoman government forced men, women, and children from their homes. Many died of starvation or disease during a harrowing trek over mountains and through deserts. Others were murdered.”

    Then Lewy tries to minimize this by saying that the Turkish government didn’t subjectively *want* the Armenians to die; it just happened. We could call this the “oops” defense.

    If a government wants to “deport” or “relocate” its own citizens, then that government has an *affirmative responsibility* to carry out the relocation without killing people.

    President Roosevelt’s government managed to relocate the ethnic Japanese without killing them (not that this justifies the Japanese relocation). If the Turkish government carries out a relocation and people die, then the Turkish government bears the responsibility, whatever their subjective *feelings* about the relocation and its purposes may have been.

    At least Lewy doesn’t claim that the Armenians didn’t really die, or that they died from Allied bombing raids.

  13. If Mexicans, with tacit support from Venezuelan auxiliaries, began the wholesale slaughter of whites and blacks in U.S. border towns combined with targeted assassinations of leading Mexican-Americans and U.S. citizens who opposed the idea of ‘Reconquista’, what would, or rather should, the US government do?

    What would it have done in 1915?

    And what would it have done in 1915 if simultaneously Russo-Canadians were attacking from the North, Sino-Japanese forces were landing in California and a United Europe, Africa Kore was landing in DC?

    I’m packing up to visit my Armenian buddy in Sydney with a copy of Louis de Bernieres’, Birds Without Wings. In the meantime, I hope Moynihan gets an appreciation for context when discussing the sins of our forefathers (all our forefathers) instead of trotting out some youtube clown to discredit anyone who would agree with that ultimate of Turkish government ‘agents’, Bernard Lewis…

    Peace in the East, War sucks, *isms suck more…

  14. If Mexicans, with tacit support from Venezuelan auxiliaries, began the wholesale slaughter of whites and blacks in U.S. border towns combined with targeted assassinations of leading Mexican-Americans and U.S. citizens who opposed the idea of ‘Reconquista’, what would, or rather should, the US government do?

    Are we talking about the regular US government or the one that’s supposedly a VichyPuppet for the MexicanGovernment so they can build a BigHighway to CanadaWhereItsRelativelyCold for NoReason?

  15. “If Mexicans, with tacit support from Venezuelan auxiliaries, began the wholesale slaughter of whites and blacks in U.S. border towns combined with targeted assassinations of leading Mexican-Americans and U.S. citizens who opposed the idea of ‘Reconquista’, what would, or rather should, the US government do?”

    Maybe set up a virtual fence or send a stern diplomatic note. Impose sanctions, maybe – but only after a lot of hand-wringing and endless debate at the UN.

  16. What’s hilarious about Livingston is that he actually didn’t get caught by Larry Flynt. Former Hustler editor Alan McDonnell spoke at LA Press Club and said that Flynt just hinted he that had information and Livingston confessed.

  17. 1) The Turks systematicly murdered lots and lots of Armenians… that is without question. Trying to say it is not “genocide” is just a matter of playing word games.

    2) Why should the U.S. government be in the buisness of recognizing or not recognizing attrocities that happen outside its jurisdiction?

  18. 2) Why should the U.S. government be in the buisness of recognizing or not recognizing attrocities that happen outside its jurisdiction?

    I admit haven’t given much thought to this, but it seems to me like the US gov ought to be clear about the kind of regimes it’s willing to do business with. Working with autocratic or dictatorial regimes seems contrary to the enlightenment liberal ideals that theoretically underpin our society.

    If we believe that individual liberty (defined negatively as freedom from force and fraud) is a universal value–and I know I might be pissing off some postmodernists here–it seems that the US, ostensibly founded on these values, has an obligation of sorts to support like-minded regimes, and to stand steadfast against all autocratic regimes who don’t embrace those values.

    I’m not sure how far we should take “standing steadfast” against these regimes. On the whole, I oppose the concept of preemptive war (e.g. the war on Iraq). On the other hand, I have a hard time accepting the view that the US ought not to have gotten involved in WWII. For all the US imperialist bullshit that emerged during and after that war, I think the fight against fascism was a good one.

    It’s a difficult if not impossible line to draw, but, if we are truly committed to the right to personal libery and private property, why should we draw the line at opposing our own government? Given the US’s military power, there must be a nuance, rational way for us to expand such ideas abroad.

    I’m worried that if I pursue this thinking to far, I’ll wind up in neocon territory. What’s the middle ground? From a libertarian perspective, individual liberty seems like a paramount value, whether that liberty exists within our country or others.

    (Postmodernists–not that there seem to be many here–what say you?)

  19. Jeezus, sorry, I hate the word “postmodernism,” for the record. It’s just a convenient shorthand for the serious scholars of, say, Levinas (I heart u), Derrida, Lyotard, et al.

  20. Anonymo,
    I love YourSyntax. Being RelativelyIgnorant of these matters, I have NoIdeaHow I’d ever trace you. GoodWork!

  21. If a government wants to “deport” or “relocate” its own citizens, then that government has an *affirmative responsibility* to carry out the relocation without killing people.

    Sorry to post so many times in a row, but I have to ask: If a government does not follow through on this “affirmative responsibility to carry out the relocation without killing people,” what kinds of consequences should be imposed on a government that does neglect its responsibility to relocate people without killing them? Are state-mandated reparations in order? The Trail of Tears comes to mind most immediately.

    And even beyond mere loss of life, are there not other equally important factors we should consider? Deprivation of property, livelihood, and cultural transmission, to name a few.

    “Guilty till proved innocent” is such a simple concept, but admittedly difficult to apply in practice all the time. Japanese-American, and even German-American, internment raises really difficult issues about a longstanding conflict between freedom, and the fundamental safety that freedom requires. (Maybe?)

  22. This thread just sort of begs for a Godwin, doesn’t it?

    Or at least a Serdar Argic.

  23. The truth only matters to a politician when it is politically convenient.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.