Tuesday, October 16, 2007

They killed HOW MANY?!

I know you are all anxious for my reaction to the US Congress' intention to declare the killing of Armenians at the beginning of the last century a "genocide". When the French talk about the Armenian Genocide (using capital letters to make it official), I am not surprised: it's a deep-rooted feeling in the French psyche that is anti-Turkish and anti-Muslim, and as insidiously evil in its way as antisemitism. When the US Congress does it, I can only think there is a powerful Armenian lobby in the US that is doing some behind-the-scenes armtwisting. During the bloody conflict when so many Armenians died, about the same number of Turks died too, but the trouble with a fact like that is that it gets uncomfortably in the way of a comfortable prejudice.
I remember hearing a story when I was a boy about a victory parade at the end of WWII when various regiments marched through the town. Two bystanders watched as one after another came round the corner. At one point, the Jewish Regiment appeared, but only a very small number of soldiers. "Not many Jews fought in the War," remarked one. Then the rest of the Jewish Regiment, having been temporarily held up, came round the corner, making up a full regiment. "Not many Jews killed in the War," remarked the other.
As I say, one should never let the truth get in the way of a perfectly good prejudice.

3 comments:

Chas S. Clifton said...

If there is a powerful Armenian lobby, where is it? That's a rhetorical question, because I consider myself somewhat politically aware, and I have not encountered it.

Granted, there are a number of people of Armenian descent in some parts of California, but not enough to dominate that state's politics. How many did you meet on your visits?

The Turks might as well admit that they have blood on their hands, as do most societies. As the saying goes, "The cover-up is worse than the crime."

Old Scrote said...

During the late fifties and early sixties (ie, very soon after World War II), I taught a new generation of Germans, and I could see no value in laying some kind of guilt on them. They might REGRET the sins of their fathers, but they were not RESPONSIBLE for the sins of their fathers. So, regardless of the truth or otherwise of the "Armenian genocide", I can see no value in laying guilt on the present generation of Turkish citizens. Any more than I am prepared to apologise for my country's involvement in the slave trade. or believe that you should go through agonies of guilt for what your ancestors did to the native Americans (or whatever you call Red Indians these days).
It just doesn't make sense, and it sure as hell doesn't achieve anything as far as I can see.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Perhaps the difference is that your German students, while not absorbed with the Third Reich, did not pretend it did not exist and did not demand the legal prosecution of anyone who said that it had exited?

Of course, as always there is a Grand Conspiracy Theory: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (a Californian) wanted the genocide resolution passed ... in order to annoy the Turks into refusing to let troops and supplies for the Iraq war pass through Turkey ... thus further frustrating the Bush administration.