Guest Commentary: Turks, Americans Leave Genocide by the Wayside

    Imagine being a 93-year-old man who has been ignored and
    isolated all his life. His family and friends are gone. No one looks him in the
    eye as he hobbles down the street. No one knows his name or acknowledges that
    he even exists. Nobody stops to chat. Everyone rushes right past him, saying
    and doing nothing — for nearly a century.

    The Armenian Genocide is that lonely old man, still aching
    to have his story told, his existence acknowledged, his soul healed and put to
    rest.

    The Armenian Genocide of 1915, commemorated every April 24
    by Armenians around the world, was the systematic destruction by the Ottoman
    Empire
    of more than 1.5 million Armenians. The Ottoman
    government’s desire at the time to “cleanse” minorities and create a
    Pan-Turkish state has been well documented. Records from then-U.S. Ambassador
    to Ottoman Turkey Henry Morgenthau, from German missionaries and even from
    Turkish officials reveal that the Ottoman Empire was particularly intent on
    annihilating the Armenian race, which had become so successful within the
    country — a country with much territory previously belonging to ancient
    Armenia.

    Government archives in Turkey
    and around the world have proof of these goals. Yet Turkey
    still denies that an Armenian Genocide ever occurred, and many countries still
    side with Turkey
    when it claims that the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians were merely the result
    of a variety of World War I skirmishes and Armenian insurgencies impossible to
    pin on the government.

    Fortunately, France, Italy, Switzerland and other
    enlightened nations refuse to give into this lie, recently passing resolutions
    and legislation acknowledging the Armenian Genocide — the first genocide of the
    twentieth 20th century, one that Adolf Hitler studied in preparation for his
    own Jewish Holocaust.

    Andrew Tarsey, former Director of the Anti-Defense League of
    New England, was essentially fired last year for his comments acknowledging the
    Armenian Genocide but has inspired Jews and Armenians alike with his
    uncompromised integrity on this issue.

    Momentum is shifting in other ways as well: U.S. House and
    Senate Resolution 106 acknowledging the Genocide, New York Life’s settlement of
    insurance-policy reparations to descendants of Armenian Genocide victims, more
    and more countries passing genocide legislation as mentioned, the Los
    Angeles
    Unified School
    District
    incorporating a new Armenian-Genocide
    curriculum into the schools. These are important steps.

    Some Turkish scholars and artists, like historian Taner
    Akcam of the University of Minnesota,
    are now speaking out about the Armenian Genocide and acknowledging that it did
    in fact happen — even dialoguing with their Armenian counterparts at academic
    conferences and panels.

    Perhaps Turkey
    does not recognize how much more respect it would gain worldwide if it did
    finally admit to the Ottoman Empire’s Armenian Genocide
    — perhaps its bid to join the European Union would even be helped. But Turkey
    also knows full well that the admission would result in a doling-out of
    financial reparations that could nearly bankrupt the country. So, admitting the
    truth is too embarrassing and costly.

    Yet Turkey
    apparently doesn’t mind throwing millions of dollars at lobbyists and
    politicians worldwide to secure its anti-Armenian goals. Neither those efforts,
    however, nor vehement denial, can change the truth of history. Sadly, many
    Turks believe that the Armenian Genocide is a lie; saddest of all, younger
    generations of Turks are entirely ignorant of this period in their country’s
    history.

    Some would say the aftermath of the genocide has even
    continued with a young Turkish nationalist’s assassination of beloved
    Armenian-Turkish journalist/editor Hrant Dink last year, seemingly for his
    pro-Genocide views. His son Arat Dink, assuming leadership of his father’s
    newspaper, was also convicted (like his father) under Turkey’s
    Article 301 of the penal code, for the “crime” of insulting Turkishness. Never
    mind insulting the truth.

    Only an enlightened people are brave enough to explore and
    admit their mistakes and sins. Only an enlightened people are brave enough to
    be persecuted for their beliefs. And Armenians everywhere will keep fighting
    until the truth sets the world free.

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