Joined: 25 Oct 2003
| Posted: Thu Nov 30, 2006 12:11 pm Post subject: ARMENIANS ARE THEIR WORST ENEMIES!
|AZG Armenian Daily #226, 25/11/2006
ARMENIANS ARE THEIR WORST ENEMIES!
Is this headline offensive?
It certainly is. It hurts reading it; it hurts even
more to write it. But it reveals the unpleasant truth.
Most of the times Armenians are bright and successful
individually, but not so collectively. They are
charitable and kind when they meet destitute fellow
Armenians, but try to see if they help each other
A true story may illustrate these statements better.
Years ago, the American Armenian International College
honored the celebrated movie director Rouben Mamoulian
by bestowing an honorary doctorate degree upon him. As
the speaker left the podium, after lavishing all kinds
of praise on the honoree, another Armenian, who had
spent a lifetime in Hollywood's movie industry,
approached him and said: "Why do you honor this man?
He has not helped a single Armenian in the movie
Another case in point is the Armenian screenplay
writer Steve Zaillian who upon receiving the Oscar for
his "Schindler's list" screenplay, failed to mention
the Armenian Genocide, in front of billions of
Not helping a fellow Armenian may be dismissed as
selfishness, but what to make of an Armenian in a
position of power who denigrates other Armenians or
undermines any Armenian cause, in the name of a higher
noble cause? Unfortunately, there is an abundance of
In 2003, Dr. Raymond Damadian, the inventor of MRI,
was bypassed by the Nobel Prize committee, which
awarded the prize to Paul C. Lauterbur and Peter
Mansfield, who had mainly improved the invention. When
Damadian reacted angrily, a New York Times editorial
ridiculed him, while a media debate was raging. One
person, among the Armenians who was the best qualified
as a scientist to defend a fellow Armenian, Dr. Leon
A. Saryan, wrote an article saying why he did not
deserve the Nobel Prize.
The trend continues even today. When the French
Parliament passed a resolution to adopt a law
punishing Genocide deniers, we saw a number of
Armenians opposing or ridiculing it, in the name of
freedom of speech. The opposition to that resolution
may water it down, or even defeat it at the Senate or
presidential level, given the media outcry that
followed its adoption. Unfortunately major news media
in Europe and the US opposed the move and they enjoyed
the benefit of supporting a sacrosanct principle -
that of freedom of expression. That effectively
disguised their main intent of facilitating Turkey's
accession to the European Union.
No one has yet protested the Loi Gaysot, which the
same French Parliament has adopted to punish the
Holocaust deniers, because Jews have a very strong
antidote or weapon: they label such individuals as
It was predictable that many Armenian leaders in
Turkey would oppose it, to save their own skin. Since
already the reverse law (Penal Code 301) exists, in
Turkey and has been used extensively to prosecute
writers like Orhan Pamuk, Elif Shafak, Ragip Zarakolu
and Hrant Dink.
But it is difficult to comprehend the position of some
Armenian writers and scholars in the West who decide
to become more Catholic than the pope in their zeal to
defend freedom of speech. Rather than using that
position of power to defend an Armenian cause, they
join the Turkish chorus, crying wolf in the name of
freedom of speech. The Turks are the worst violators
of human rights and freedom of speech but they seem to
have found a goldmine in the otherwise-unassailable
principle of the freedom of expression and they
believe that the louder they shout about that
principle, the more successful they will become in
denying the Armenian Genocide.
Of course, for academic purposes, it sounds very
healthy to find Armenian dissenters who defend that
principle. However, we have yet to hear one Jew object
to the Loi Gaysot in principle.
One such dissenter seems to be journalist and UCLA's
Bruin Standard Editor Garin K. Hovannisian, who,
having accessed the forum of the Christian Science
Monitor, signed an article on November 7 titled "The
folly of Genocide deniers." Hovannisian has used his
superb talent to castigate the French, to ridicule the
Armenian supporters of the bill and in the final
analysis, to provide ammunition to the Turks.
He begins his argument with the following statement:
"The bill reminds us that France's socialist party and
many European elites believe truth is decreed, not
discovered." The writer is not very happy either that
"The news drove Armenian communities into raptures."
Then, he tries to lambaste Hilda Tchoboian, president
of the European Armenian Federation who has welcomed
this "historic step," noting that "The hydra of denial
is a tumor on freedom of expression" and then he
defines that statement as proof "that you can mix
metaphor and talk nonsense in the span of five nouns."
Then he pontificates: "Genocide denial might be a
tumor on the truth, memory or even human dignity, but
it's not even a pimple on the freedom of expression."
He continues in the same condescending tone: "That
lesson, sadly, is lost on some French parliamentarians
and the Armenians Diaspora, whose notion of politics
ends where Genocide begins." Indeed, Armenians must be
grateful to count amongst them pundits like Mr.
Hovannissian whose bright ideas contribute to the
sophistication of our political maturity, which
otherwise would have been painfully primitive.
The writer uses even catchier phrases to press his
point: "It is easier to shut up the deniers than to
make them stop believing." "Censorship has long been
the tool of people who are threatened by the facts,
who can't win a debate on equal terms. Censors have
sought to gain through power what they lack in
The powerful have always used noble principles to
commit the most atrocious crime; like Turkey today, by
exhorting the principle of freedom of speech in France
- while cynically denying the same principle at home -
is only fighting the recognition of the Genocide.
Additionally, Turkey has been using its state machine
and powerful resources to fight that recognition. The
French law is only a mild reaction to the Turkish
campaign. In the same fashion, our own president tries
to convince us that "democracy is on the march" in
Iraq over the bodies of 655,000 casualties and 2500 US
servicemen. Who can argue that "democracy" is not
worth that kind of carnage? After all it is a noble
idea. Had the Turks recognized the Genocide, there
would be no need to pass a law to punish the deniers.
Therefore, we have to go to the root cause of this
debate, if we really prize the principle of the
freedom of speech.
Armenians have paid the price for noble ideas and
principles as the cost of their survival. Even in our
earliest history, Ara the Handsome was killed and
Assyria's Semiramis over ran Armenia, because we
upheld family values over survival. By the same token,
Vartan Mamigonian sacrificed his life to uphold the
Christian faith. In more recent times, when in 1918
Armenian volunteers regained Cilicia, we were asked by
the Allies to lay down our arms and we followed their
instructions, but Cilicia was overrun by Kemalists
hordes who challenged the same request.
Also General Antranik was on the verge of conquering
Karabagh, when the British government stopped him,
promising a positive outcome for that enclave at the
Versailles Treaty. He abided by the request and
Karabagh's fate is still in limbo to this date. Even
today Karabagh Armenians are being named "aggressors"
because they liberated their homeland and they
determined their own destiny. Had they waited for
brownie points from the international community for
"good behavior," 150,000 Karabagh Armenians would be
laying dead next to the Armenian victims of the
Without being cynical, all noble principles are made
to fit the feet of the powerful like boots to trample
the rights and existence of weaker nations.
The Turks must have rejoiced in finding allies
indirectly contributing to their case as many
Monitor's editors have rejoiced.
When the blood of 1.5 million martyrs is on the scale,
freedom of speech becomes academic. Let others fight
for that principle when our priority is the survival
of our people.
By Edmond Y. Azadian