Banned books and other forms of censorship

On the banning of books, censorship and other freedom of access issues

Monday, October 15, 2007

Turkey genocide of Armenians and Islamo-Fascism awareness week

I was watching David Horowitz on a news show a few days ago in which he was describing his plans for Islamo-Fascism awareness week, to take place next week on college campuses across America. He complained that the left was trying to censor these events and implied that the left was in collusion with Islamic extremists. I certainly support his right to speak freely and for these events to take place without disruption.

Meanwhile, however, the Bush administration and Republican leaders oppose a proposed congressional resolution which has passed the House Foreign Affairs committee, opposing the "deportation of nearly 2 million Armenians from the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923, resulting in the deaths of 1.5 million of them, amounted to 'genocide.'" see: http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/10/us.turkey.armenians/index.html

The concern is that if passed by the full House, this will hurt our relationship with Turkey, a key ally in the Iraq conflict, which has strongly protested this non-binding resolution, and has also recalled its ambassador to the U.S. for consultation in protest of the vote.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi has vowed to press on with a full vote on the resolution, stating "there's never been a good time" to vote on the resolution, but that it is important to pass the resolution now, "because many of the survivors are very old." Meanwhile, U.S. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell seemed to confirm Pelosi's position that there has "never been a good time" for Congress to pass such a resolution when he stated: "But I don't think the Congress passing this resolution is a good idea at any point. But particularly not a good idea when Turkey is cooperating with us in many ways, which ensures greater safety for our soldiers." McConnell also stated incorrectly that the event occurred 100 years ago, when actually it took place between 1915 and 1923. See: http://edition.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/14/us.turkey/

So, while we may rightly condemn students and off-campus radicals who disrupt college events denouncing Islamo-fascism, here we have the largest event of Islamo-fascism in modern history, a prelude in its magnitude of mass killings to the Nazi holocaust, yet America is not supposed to take note of this genocidal event because it might disrupt our relations with Turkey and hurt the Iraq war effort. And according to Senator McConnell, this resolution would not be a "good idea at any point," which implies that even after the Iraq war ends, if that actually happens, there will be still be no appropriate time to denounce Turkey's genocide of Armenians.

Is this not a case of self-censorship of much larger proportion?

In Turkey itself, it is illegal to describe the mass killings of Armenians during this time as genocide. Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian who was convicted under Article 301 for violating this law, accused of insulting Turkish identity, was subsequently murdered by a Turkish nationalist for his writings.

It is incorrect to state that the left is suppressing awareness of Islamic extremism, when the Bush administration and the Republican leadership oppose any official protest of the worst case of Islamic extremism in modern history.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to correct a few things here. The Ottoman Empire during WW1 was run by the Young Turks who were Turkish nationalists and detested Islam (which they regarded as an alien arabic religion). The empire was officially "Islamic", but the sultan was a lame duck. Power was in the hands of three Pashas. Essentially their goals were to unite Turkic lands into a single entity.

7:17 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Stephen,

Great to see you blogging here again. This was a typically thoughtful post. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one.

In my view, this issue is not about self-censorship, but rather public policy. No one is preventing Nancy Pelosi or anyone else in America from condemning the Armenian genocide, or criticizing Article 301. The issue of whether or not the Congress of the United States should pass a resolution on this topic, however, is a policy question. There are plenty of very good reasons for not doing it.

For one thing, the Democrats in Congress have spent the last six years decrying the Bush Administration's alleged arrogance and insensitivity to other nations. Now they propose officially condemning one of our most important Muslim allies? Doesn't sound like a helpful move to me.

In particular, this resolution jeopardizes our crucial supply lines through Turkey into Iraq, and decreases our ability to dissuade the Turks from entering Kurdish-run northern Iraq. This comes at a time when Al Qaeda in Iraq is all but defeated, and Shia tribes are now starting to turn against the Iranian sponsored Islamists in their community. Alienating the Turks could imperil this progress. Ironically, by passing a resolution against a past genocide, Congress could wind up enabling a future one.

In terms of defeating radical Islamism, driving al Qaeda and the Iranians from Iraq is far more important than passing a resolution condemning a 90 year old atrocity.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Oh, one more thing I forgot to add. If ABC News is correct, this discussion may be moot.

8:45 PM  
Blogger Stephen Denney said...

Dave, the Nazi holocaust took place sixty years ago; the killing of 1.5 million Armenians took place about 15 years before that, between 1915 and 1923. So I cannot see the argument that because this event took place 90 ytars ago that we should not officially memorialize this event, as we do with the Nazi holocaust, and I would guess other mass atrocities in history. No one would say that in 15 years our government should not memorialize the Nazi holccaust because it happened 90 years ago. I understand the geopolitical arguments, and I don't want to see our effort in Iraq fail. But it seems to me that this is censorship on a much greater scale than some radical students disrupting college events denouncing Islamic extremism. Even if our government feels it cannot protest, at least we can protest both this historical event and the censorship on this issue that continues today, both for our government and for people in Turkey. And as I noted, according to Sen. McConnell, there will never be an appropriate time for our government to protest or memorialize this event.

Thank you to anonymous for the corrections.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Stephen Denney said...

correction: the Nazi holocaust took place about 75 years ago, between 1933-1945.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Stephen Denney said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:22 AM  
Blogger FreadomistaW said...

I must agree with Stephen. Truth is too valuable a commodity -- especially when it comes to one of the first intances of modern genocide.

There must be a way to speak the Truth, in love and clarity, without making it an attack on present day Turkey.

Dave, what kind of logic is this of yours? I usually agree with you on postings. Did the West stop commemorating the Nazi atrocities because West Germany might be offended?

Of course, the geopolitics were very different; the Soviet Union didn't give one rubble about the victims of the Holocaust, they mostly tried what they could to get propaganda mileage out of the previous crimes of their enemies, in order to deflect people from knowing about the crimes which were taking place in their own totalitarian "millenial" kingdom of smiling barbarians.

You really think Turkey should be admitted to the EU if they are not willing to own up to the truth about genocide? I hope not.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Norma said...

These resolutions are political, useless, and it doesn't stop--the bar is raised. Why not memorialize the millions of Vietnamese we condemned to death at the hands of the Chinese by pulling out--well, we'd have to condemn ourselves, particularly the left and we might offend China. Why not condemn the truce in Korea, that indirectly has led to millions starving to death in the north? Well, then we'd have to condemn the right. After the resolutions come the cries for reparations and the return of grandpa's dacha and great grandma's art collection. It will never stop. And what about the Turks who died?

One thing librarians can do is see to it that more than just one view makes it to the shelves. Banning starts with the acquisitions budget.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Stephen Denney said...

Norma, to your question: "Why not memorialize the millions of Vietnamese we condemned to death at the hands of the Chinese by pulling out--well, we'd have to condemn ourselves, particularly the left and we might offend China." Actually millions of Vietnamese did not die at the hands of the Chinese after we pulled out. You might be thinking of Cambodia where over 1 million people died under the Khmer Rouge brief reign (not under the hands of the Chinese, but by a regime inspired by the Chinese cultural revolution). In the case of Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese spent several years in re-education camps after 1975, many died at sea, and a totalitarian police state was imposed on that country. I would support congressional resolutions taking official note of either of these tragic events.

In this case, we are discussing whether Congress should pass a resolution condemning the mass killing of 1.5 million Armenians, in an event that took place just 20 years before the Nazi holocaust. Republican and Democratic politicians, including both presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, have acknowledged this basic fact in the past.

While I understand the geo-political arguments against this resolution, and it seems these arguments eventually prevailed, this is a case of our government being censored by another government in noting one of the worst cases of genocide in modern history.

And I cannot buy the argument that this happened so long ago that it is no longer something that should be officially recognized by our government. No reasonable person would apply that argument to the Nazi holocaust and it should not be applied to the genocide of Armenians either.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truth is the most important thing. Suppose Hitler had not been defeated but a Government less evil took over would we now fight shy of condemning the Holocaust in case it offended the German Government? My guess is those without morals would and those with morals would condemn the Nazis.

5:37 AM  

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