Who Remembers Now the Destruction of the Armenians?


Jamie Kirchick is making sense about the Anti-Defamation League's stonewalling on a Congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide:

For pragmatic reasons, a sense of the Congress resolution acknowledging the Armenian genocide may not be such a great idea. Turkey is an important ally in the Muslim world. Would it really be worth hurting that relationship over a resolution that, however morally just, bears no force? A few weeks ago, however, a legislator told me that if such a resolution really did offend the Turks to the point that they would hamper American military maneuvers out of Incirlik Air Base or by fooling around in Kurdistan, then maybe our relationship with Turkey is not all it's cracked up to be in the first place.

But at the end of the day, these realpolitik considerations should have no bearing on a civic organization committed to humanitarian goals, which is what the ADL claims to be. Yes, it is part of the ADL's mission to defend Israel (and, it bears noting, to debunk Holocaust deniers)–but the ADL is not a mere extension of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Pussyfooting on the existence of the Armenian genocide works against everything for which the ADL claims to stand.

Incredibly ironic, too, as the title of this post is a much-repeated paraphrase of Hitler's August 22, 1939 speech. Hitler's point was that founders of great empires are remembered for the kingdoms they build and not the people they slaughter. He was, unsurprisingly, wrong as all hell, evidenced by the other example he gave: "history sees in [Genghis Khan] solely the founder of a state." (The Reich didn't last long enough for him to witness John Kerry's Senate testimony or Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.) How the ADL expects people to remain concerned about genocide while forgetting or blowing off a fairly recent genocide, I have no clue.

I've got nothing else to add to Kirchick: Either the ADL is an organization that dogpiles people who minimize genocides or Nazism or it's an extension of Ehud Olmert's press shop.

And yes, I realize I just quoted Hitler to make a point. If Abe Foxman wants to sue me, the subpoena should be sent to reason's Washington, D.C. office between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. any day this week.

NEXT: More Larry Craig

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  1. Pussyfooting on the existence of the Armenian genocide works against everything for which the ADL claims to stand.

    Acting against their stated aims? The ADL?? Say it ain’t so Dave. Say it ain’t so!

  2. The ADL’s reasoning is no different than that of the Pope, who chose to stop speaking out against the Nazis in an effort to avoid offending them and protect the Jewish converts in western Europe. A failed effort, btw, but one that is much more defensible than the ADLs. Hitler actually was rounding up and killing Jews. The ADL isn’t afraid that the Turks are going to round up Jews; they’re afraid that Israel’s foreign policy might become a little harder.

    The ADL: less stout in their denunciation of genocide than the Pope during WW2.

  3. That’s quite a bit of vitriol for a few short paragraphs.

    Anyway the ADL backtracked on this several days ago and has already gotten flak from Turkey.

    The Anti-Defamation League reinstated Andrew Tarsy as its New England regional director, Monday. Tarsy was fired August 17, after publicly voicing opposition to the organization’s refusal to recognize the Armenian genocide.

    Abraham Foxman later reversed the organization’s position by recognizing the World War I massacre of Armenians as genocide for the first time. Following this reversal, the New England regional chapter voted to bring back Tarsy as director and to support a resolution before Congress that would officially recognize the genocide, despite Foxman’s continued opposition to such a bill


  4. I think David just Godwined himself.

  5. Saw this article earlier

  6. How ’bout — it was genocidey.

    “but the ADL is not a mere extension of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.. . .”

    Sadly it has diminished itself by acting that role for too long a time.

  7. preview dangit!! *sigh*

  8. Weigel: Must you use the passive voice so damn often?

  9. How ’bout — it was genocidey.

    i’ve got graves (they’re multiplying)
    and i’m loo-sin’ control
    of the death squads
    i’m supplying (it’s genocidin’!)

  10. That reminds me, I do advocate genocide against anyone ever involved in the production or propogation of Grease.

  11. Even Stockard Channing?

    She so totally stole that show.

  12. The post also reported Turkey’s response to the ADL reversal. They want Israel to tell the ADL to tell congress to stop the bill. Sigh, I wish someone would explain to them that the council of elders only gather’s on their moon base to direct world affairs on years that are divisible by seven.

  13. I wonder if we will see Serdar Argic arise from retirement?

  14. I’m just going to repeat my last post from August 13 (Michael C. Moynihan | August 13, 2007, 2:47pm) with a couple of parenthesis…

    If Mexicans (Armenians), with tacit support from Venezuelan auxiliaries (Russians), began the wholesale slaughter of whites and blacks (Turks, Kurds and other Muslim ethnicities) in U.S. (Ottoman Empire) border towns combined with targeted assassinations of leading Mexican-Americans (Armenian Ottomans) and U.S. citizens (Ottomans) who opposed the idea of ‘Reconquista'(Greater Armenia), what would, or rather should, the US (Ottoman) 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 (World War I)?

    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… (Great trip, Great Book.)

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

  15. All due respect to the Armenians, but do we really need one more ethnic group wrapped up in a shroud of victimhood? Lacrimose tales of woe and horror are so tiresome. Nobody can outdo the Jews anyway. How about letting bygones be bygones? Have some Turkish delight, and get on with life.

  16. Texas Jannisary,

    Not to take sides or anything, but the reason that the Armenians (and Greeks and Jews and Slavs) were part of the Ottoman Empire in the first place was in large part due to some fairly vrutal military conquests.

    Anyway, things between the Turks and the Armenians didn’t simply heat up in 1915. There had been a number of Armenian rebellions as well as ant-Armenian slaughters in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

    As for Russian involvement as I recall it was the Turks who chose to declare war on the Allies.

    There is of course a complicated history to the region, with all sides having bloody hands at one point or another, but that hardly excuses the behavior of any ethnic group either.

  17. I recall hearing that the U.S. and the Ottoman Empire never declared war on each other during WWI. Something to do with all of the American missionaries running around the empire.

  18. Pro Libertate,

    There were a number of reasons. I’d have to consult some books to figure out what they were.

    Note that following WWI Greece invaded what is today Turkey and acted rather poorly in the process. When the Turks gained the upper hand drove the Greeks out they in turn treated the Greek population of Ionia rather poorly. Then again, exactly who did what in the Greco-Turkish war is hotly disputed, and since I am not any sort of expert on the subject…

  19. I don’t know all the details myself, but I also recall hearing a story about the Turks banning English (as an enemy alien language) during the war. The American ambassador protested the decision. The Turks did not lift the ban, but they did state that people could continue to speak American.

  20. Pro Libertate,

    Anyway, the U.S. wasn’t really involved in any operations (that I know of) against the Ottomans. That was a British, French and Arab affair (and perhaps some Italians were involved too*). The U.S. had its hands full fielding an army and sending it France.

    *Italy’s contribution to WWI is almost always forgotten, despite the heavy casualities it suffered.

  21. Pro Libertate,

    Also, during and immediately after WWI a number of nations were looking to wholely dismember even the rump of the Ottoman Empire.

  22. I just went on a Google rampage. We never did declare war on the Ottoman Empire. We got a bit involved in the break up, but we ended up pulling out of all that when we didn’t ratify Versailles. Interestingly, the Syrians were, at one point, lobbying heavily for America to get the mandate for Syria. Weird. We were also supposed to occupy parts of Turkey (the Straits and somewhere else–can’t remember), but that, too, fell by the wayside.

  23. “Interestingly, the Syrians were, at one point, lobbying heavily for America to get the mandate for Syria. Weird. ”

    Nothing weird about it. Only weird ’cause you’re young and innocent. AntiAmericanism in that area is only middle to late 20th century; mostly pro-American, even rabidly so, before.

    That Syrian lobbying was actually most of the Arab middle east (generally grouped under Syrian as nationality) — they wanted NO Mandate but preferred an American one (Wilson and self-determination and no imperial record in the area) if there had to be one at all, else a British one grudingly, but no French one.

    In the end: Got a French one in the area that became Syria and Lebanon.

  24. Libertate and Syloson,
    I appreciate your comments for not dismissively branding me a Global Warming..err…Genocide Denier. Personally, I’m fascinated by the history of the Ottoman Empire in particular and the Middle East in general but I’ll never pretend to be an expert on either. However, I do believe a fair historian would support the notion that the Ottoman Millet System of governing minorities was more ‘fair and balanced’ than anything the ‘Empires of the West’ devised until the 1960s (again, emphasis on practice, not theory.) The internal power struggles of the Ottomans were usually between the Phanariot Greeks, Jews and Armenians – ironically referred to as the ‘loyal millet’ after the Greek War of Independence caused the Phanariot Greeks to lose much of their prestige in the Sublime Porte.

    Unfortunately, whenever I run into the topic of the Armenian Genocide it is addressed as if the Ottomans (who never referred to themselves by the derogatory term Turk until the nationalist bug bit the Young Turks) were sitting around smoking their hookahs, got bored and decided to kill anywhere from two hundred thousand to nine hundred thousand Armenians who were peacefully sitting in their villages minding their own business. The lack of context such as the million plus muslims killed in Eastern Anatolia, the Ottoman dismemberment plans of the Imperial Powers (British, Russian, German, Italian, American) and the conflicting interests of their proxies (Greeks, Armenians, Bulgarians, Arabs, Assyrians, Christian missionaries, etc.) never seem to enter the discussion.

    Some day, I’ll walk down the streets of Pera and Beyoglu and hear 20 languages in every cafe I pass by. Until then I have to listen to the Armenian diaspora lobbying for Genocide Recognition, the Republic of Turkey deeming the subject ‘against Turkishness’ and Reason, the bastion of liberty, addressing it without context…

  25. We can stipulate that the Turks had valid reasons to relocate the Armenians as a security measure, just as the US relocated the ethnic Japanese from the West Coast during World War II. Having undertaken a relocation plan, however, it was the affirmative responsibility of the Young Turk regime to carry it out *without* causing hundreds of thousands of deaths. If they couldn’t figure out a way to do that, they they’re responsible for the deaths occurring during the relocation. This is totally apart from whether they had a specific purpose to kill Armenians.

  26. Don’t think it’s been mentioned but Israel seems obviously a partial motivator as they have specifically refused to acknowledge the Armenian genocide to maintain good relations with Turkey. The government of Israel is just as political and weaselly as any in history. Genocide is an issue only when it benefits computation of foreign aid.

  27. joe:

    The ADL isn’t afraid that the Turks are going to round up Jews; they’re afraid that Israel’s foreign policy might become a little harder.

    Yeah, the ADL conflates the anti anti-Semitism part of their purview with a defense of the Israeli state-Claiming that criticisms of the Israeli government is an attack on Jews in general. This is, of course, unfair to the victims of the Israeli state. But it’s also unfair to Jews cuz it engenders anti-Semitism by implying that Jews and the Israeli state are the same, thus falsely making the former culpable for the sins of the latter.

  28. No, Rick, they don’t. No one does that. Ever.

    You, sir, are indistinguishable from the SS.

    Now watch me misspell the word “Jews,” as if I’ve made an insightful retort to your post. Ready? Ahem:


    Boo-yah! I gotcha there! Aw, just admit it, I GOT you!

  29. A brilliant parody, joe! Ahh, so that’s why they spell it, “Joos”!

  30. Dear Madam Secretary Condoleezza Rice:

    Your comments during U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations hearings (Wednesday, March 21, 2007), on the issue of the Armenian Genocide are insulting, racist, and void of decency.

    According to your remarks the United States should not be involved in a dispute between Turkey and Armenia over whether the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians almost a century ago constituted genocide.

    The Armenian Genocide is an American human rights issue, not a dispute between two distant countries. Just as slavery was and still is an American human rights issue not a dispute between Nigeria or any other African state and Great Britain.

    The present day Republic of Armenia, and the Republic of Nagorno Karapakh, have little concern about the Armenian Genocide because they are the only provinces of historic Armenia which were able to defend themselves against continuous Turkish aggressions, and maintain their independence against the harshest odds. These Republics and their neighboring Turkish states do have many issues which have a better chance of being resolved once the United States properly acknowledges the Armenian Genocide.

    It is I, and millions of Americans of Armenian descent like me, who lost their ancestral homeland, and found refuge in this great country, it is us that were promised to have our homes back by President Woodrow Wilson, it is us who want you to honor our history and our rights as human beings.

    If all Americans adopted your racist attitude about human rights issues probably you would still have been a slave now. After reading your comments I wonder which is worse, the physical enslavement of people, or the enslavement of the mind which leads to the moral prostitution of the American constitution and all the values that it stands for in the hands of this administration.

    Your comments are equally insulting and degrading to Turkish Americans and citizens of Turkey who are working to introduce a true democracy in that country, so that it can be integrated into the European Union. True democratic values and traditions are trampled over and destroyed in Turkey by our desire to accommodate bases for our troops, airfields for our warplanes, and contracts for our multinational corporations.

    Finally, how would you feel if our past secretary of states told Dr. Martin Luther King and all the civil rights advocates “I think that these historical circumstances require a very detailed and sober look from historians and what we’ve encouraged the ‘Slave Traders’ and the ‘Negroes’ to do is to have joint historical commissions that can look at this, to have efforts to examine their past and, in examining their past, to get over their past”. I took the liberty to replace ‘Turks’ and the ‘Armenians’ with my example, but you can replace with other pairs, such as: Germans and the Jews, Serbs and Kosovars, Americans and Natives, etc.

    Thank God that we still have courageous lawmakers on both sides of the isle to question your reasoning on this issue. Your choice of words “I come out of academia, but I’m secretary of state now,” I suppose this is meant to say that you used to be a decent human being when you were in academia, but now that you work for this administration you have to leave moral courage, decency, and common sense behind you.

    May God give you the wisdom to do the right thing.


    Kevork K. Kalayjian, Jr.

  31. “Texas Janissary” Wrote:
    If Mexicans (Armenians), with tacit support from Venezuelan auxiliaries (Russians), began the wholesale slaughter of whites and blacks (Turks, Kurds and other Muslim ethnicities) in U.S. (Ottoman Empire) border towns combined with targeted assassinations of leading Mexican-Americans (Armenian Ottomans) and U.S. citizens (Ottomans) who opposed the idea of ‘Reconquista'(Greater Armenia), what would, or rather should, the US (Ottoman) government do?
    What would it have done in 1915?

    What a bunch of garbage! 95% of the Armenian military age males had already been drafted into the Ottoman Army.

    Turkish historians already agree that the Ottoman government ordered the killings of hundreds of thousands of Armenains in the 1890s’. When it occurred again with much larger numbers under the Young Turks in 1915 almost every Armenian male between 17 and 45 years old was in the Ottoman Army far from Armenia.

    The “rebellion” at that point was exactly analogous to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising! Your comment is like saying the Holocaust occurred because of the resistance to the Holocaust!

    I am Turkish and we were taught complete lies about this back in Turkey. One of my professors was actually arested. Turkish Academics and writers have been arrested for just mentioning the “massacres” nevermind thte “g” word!

    The Jewish American lobby is not helping Turkey, they are helping mindless nationalists who wish to quash freedom in Turkey!

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