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April 22, 2007

What People Don't Get Is That This Is The Good Kind Of Holocaust Denial

As pointed out in this excellent LA Times column by Matt Welch, this Tuesday the 24th is Armenian Remembrance Day. As per usual, the U.S. government will express its regrets about all those sad things that happened to Armenians during World War I, but will refuse to call it "genocide."

For instance, here's Condoleezza Rice last month:

At a subcommittee hearing of a House Appropriations Committee on the 2008 budget, Representative Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and sponsor of an Armenian genocide resolution pending in the House of Representatives, asked Rice if she had "any doubt in her mind" that the Armenian killings constituted genocide.

"I think that these historical circumstances require a very detailed and sober look from historians," Rice said. "And what we've encouraged the Turks and the Armenians 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."

Hey, a government official calling for a commission to establish what really happened during the murky past! Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah:

Ahmadinejad announced the conference would set up a "fact-finding commission" to determine whether the Holocaust happened or not. The commission will "help end a 60-year-old dispute," he said.

Posted at April 22, 2007 08:06 PM | TrackBack

Brilliant find, Jon!

I hope your post gets picked up by lots of blogs. Condi and Mahmoud as two sides of the same coin. Priceless.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at April 22, 2007 08:59 PM

Don't forget those other prominent Holocaust deniers--the Israeli government and Jewish groups in the U.S.:


In its public relations battle vs. Armenians, Turkey has had no greater ally than Israeli governments and elements of the U.S. Jewish establishment, notably the American Jewish Committee.

The official Israeli line, stated most authoritatively in 2001 by then-Foreign Minister Shimon Peres on the eve of a state visit to Turkey, is that what happened to the Armenians “is a matter for historians to decide.”

Peres didn’t stop there. Speaking to a Turkish newspaper, Peres said, “We reject attempts to create a similarity between the Holocaust and the Armenian allegations.”

Note: Armenian allegations.

So Rice's rhetoric is simply a faithful quote or Israel's official policy line.

Posted by: John Caruso at April 22, 2007 09:17 PM

I'm sure Sec. Rice will get right on that Search for the Real Killers™ with those commissions.
OJ could use a job, they could team up as consultants!

Posted by: The tECHIDNA at April 22, 2007 10:36 PM

As far as I am concerned, this is a rare example of good realpolitik from Condi. It's called minding your own business. People do horrible things all the time, but SOMETIMES it is best to be silent by default when commenting about it. Let OTHERS do the talking in place of you. Like Ahnuld, who has actually been vocal on this issue.

Posted by: En Ming Hee at April 22, 2007 11:56 PM

En Ming Hee: What does it mean to be "silent by default when commenting about it" ??

Seems to defy the laws of physics.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at April 23, 2007 12:58 AM

Pardon. I mean that sometimes silence is golden. Condi has managed to correctly be silent on the matter and not shoot her mouth off with an opinion. This makes her different from Ahmadinejad, whose act is a clear attempt at provocation. Condi simply shifts the matter away.

Posted by: En Ming Hee at April 23, 2007 01:11 AM


Posted by: Batocchio at April 23, 2007 01:44 AM

En Ming Hee: Ahmadinejad is a provocateur, you're right.
(A song like " bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" does that to some Iranians. Funny how they are.)

But if you were Armenian, wouldn't you view Condi's equivocation (ie, denial) as a provocation?
Do you have any idea how Armenians feel about it?
How much of a violation it is to their collective memory! How deep the pain!

The word genocide itself was coined by Lemkin in reference to the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide.
Someone famous said "Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"
Not the US government. Not Condi obviously.

That famous person? His name was Adolf Hitler. He used the Armenian genocide as the model for the final solution.
But, hey, Arnold is talking about it so what are those uppity Armenians whining about?

What was your point again about insensitivity?

(Or were you trying to be funny and I'm just completely not getting the humor?)

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at April 23, 2007 02:03 AM

Condi wants Turks and Armenians to get over the past. Oh this sounds so familiar from one of the promoters of the Iraq War. I have read that Bush does not like to look behind, he wishes only to look ahead and the same goes for Wolfowitz one of the prime architects of the Iraq War. I suppose it is entirely understandable that these people do not wish to look back at what they have done because looking back might actually cause them to face what they are, monsters.

On another level Americans cannot seem to get over the past as in Vietnam or how we bombed Nagasaki and Hiroshima with atomic bombs despite the fact that Japan had been desperately trying to surrender. Instead what Americans remember is the non-factual argument that Japan would never surrender thus we saved lives by dropping our atomic bombs on them, it was for their own good after all, how nice, my, that is certainly much easier to live with than the actual facts.

And of course this propensity for humanity to ignore the past, to remain silent about the past, to in fact rewrite history is what allows us to continue with the same stupid brutality that is the center piece of our imperialistic foreign policies. It is quite simply why we are so completely fucked at this point in time. This will work out so nicely for the violent and ignorant assholes that make up so much of America as we get ready to bomb Iran as surely we need not look at the roaring success of not minding our own business in the Middle East.

Hey, while we are at it why don’t not face up to the part we played in the genocide that we so willingly and happily financed in East Timor? Oh hell, never mind, what good does it do to look at the past, we should just get over it, right? Silence is golden, right? By this logic we can commit any atrocity that our little hearts desire and then turn around and tell the victims to just get over it, it is in the past after all.

Posted by: rob payne at April 23, 2007 02:47 AM

Yes, we need to start looking at, not only the Genocide that was committed against Jews during WWII, but also the Genocide that was committed against the Armenians, and the various Genocides that were committed against African tribes by the English.

It is important to examine each and every one. Only in that way will we have a real grasp of history.

Posted by: atheist at April 23, 2007 06:24 AM


My earlier point about insensitivity was because it was JONATHAN SCHWARZ I was referring to, but when it comes to CONDOLEEZZA RICE we are dealing with a DIFFERENT KETTLE OF FISH. JONATHAN SCHWARZ can afford ignorance less than CONDOLEEZZA RICE, because Rice is already steeped so deep in it an EXTRA BIT MORE will make no difference. In this case, she ironically makes good politics by expressing her ignorance of something that I figure she doesn't know MUCH about. And letting those who know about it do the talking.

And it is entirely possible for Ahmadinejad to be a provocateur AND for insensitivity to exist towards them in the American context at the same time. Think about it, Ahmadinejad's interests are maintaining his hold over the Iranian people, he can PROCESS that insensitivity and turn it into political gold. He can harness his people's hatred for Israel by turning it into this sort of "leverage" against Israel and the United States. That is why I believe entirely that Ahmadinejad is being a provocateur. Nothing else. Remember, at his conference he included ANTI-ZIONIST rabbis, indicating that his real target was not Israel nor the Holocaust but ZIONISM. The likes of David Duke were made useful idiots for his political expediency. The conclusion was entirely foregone. It was not Holocaust denial. Ahmadinejad's point was that the Holocaust HAPPENED, BUT it DOES NOT JUSTIFY ZIONISM. Now I am an Anti-Zionist, but not Anti-Semitic. It is entirely possible to be both.

Read between the lines. International realpolitik is an intricate game, if progressives and liberals are really to understand what they're up against, they have to look at their tactics as well. These may be idiots motivated by sloth, vanity and greed a lot of the time that we cover on this page, BUT even those guys are capable of a certain intelligence.

Posted by: En Ming Hee at April 23, 2007 08:08 AM

Don't forget the other communities destroyed in that genocide too...the Greeks living in Turkey. The Greek and Armenian governments have been trying to get recognition for what happened to those communities in the 1920s, but no institutions on earth, aside from private institutions, support the claims.

A small logical argument: Turkey's pre-World War I population was roughly 20% non-Turkish. After the war it was/is around 2%.

Many people fled, yes; but many, many more "disappeared"...similar to how families in Russia "disappeared" after the Germans swept through in the 1940s, or Stalin got his hands on his enemies. "Killed them? No...we just moved them somewhere else. Their names not on the registry? Oh...maybe they jumped off the train or fell into a large mass grave somewhere."

"1 1/2 million people of Armenian ancestry who were the victims of the genocide..." (Welch article) That is the low estimate too.

I try not to make this issue personally, as my ancestors and relatives were victims of this purge in Turkey. The people who perpetrated these monstrous acts are dead. Life is for the living, and I bear no grudge against the Turks who live today.

But history is history, and we should at least acknowledge that. Or else genocide can be covered up by political flavors of the moment. It is wrong for politics to hide the truth when it comes to matters of human life.

Posted by: Christopher Mercier at April 23, 2007 10:23 AM

Eep...sorry. I meant to say private institutions support the claims monetarily. Of course the Greek and Armenian governments support the claims too. And talk to actual historians, and not political historians...most of them agree that there was a massive crime committed by the Turkish government in the 1910s to 1920s.

Sorry if some of my post needed some clarifying.

Posted by: Christopher Mercier at April 23, 2007 10:26 AM

"Most of the 15 countries that have officially recognized the genocide are European (with Switzerland and France even going so far as to pass over-the-top laws making it a crime to deny the genocide)."

Oops. Sorry. I was referencing outdated material. Ha ha...

Posted by: CM at April 23, 2007 10:32 AM

Anyone who stands in the way of dangerous imperilist groups such as Zionists, Neo-Cons and Neo-Liberals can deny the holocaust all they want... More than likely, they will be the only ones left fighting that tyranny when it is all set and done; While cowards like us will be imprisoned or dead.

Posted by: at April 23, 2007 10:48 AM

John Caruso:

The militant Zionist position is that *only* Jews can be called victims of a holocaust. Every other group which has been the victim of mass murder should simply 'get over it.' It rather blunts the Jewish persecution complex--and makes it harder to drum up sympathy among the Goyim--if the Jewish holocaust is simply one among many incidents of mass murder throughout history.

Posted by: Swedish Chef at April 23, 2007 12:17 PM

John Caruso:

The militant Zionist position is that *only* Jews can be called victims of a holocaust. Every other group which has been the victim of mass murder should simply 'get over it.' It rather blunts the Jewish persecution complex--and makes it harder to drum up sympathy among the Goyim--if the Jewish holocaust is simply one among many incidents of mass murder throughout history.

Posted by: Swedish Chef at April 23, 2007 12:18 PM

"with Switzerland and France even going so far as to pass over-the-top laws making it a crime to deny the genocide"...

Uhuh... deny that jews were gassed == go to jail, but...

KKK can demonstrate for the extermination, expulsion and denigration of black people and they get police protection.

How about the ~3 Million Vietnamese melted by US with Napalm? That's about half a jewish holocaust? Does that count?

By their own "conservative" estimates, the "Grat" Britan's Royal Army slaughtered about 18 Million abound the globe. Virtualy all non-white and non-christian. That's a wooping 3x jewish holocausts... Does that count?

Jews got a country (from other's land) and hundreds of millions of dollars each year in reparations and aid and political blanket at the UN for whatever fascist deeds they do in Plestine or Lebanon. What did blacks get after decades of slaughtering, slavery and denigration? The right NOT to be slaved? The right to vote (after 100 years ov political struggle) ? Two blacks got Oscars? What about the Vienamese?

I'd like to say I'm anti-semite but unfortunately I can't... Palestinians are semites too...

Posted by: Uncle Bob at April 24, 2007 04:37 AM

Uncle bob, you were making some interesting points until we get to that last sentence--perhaps you'd like to explain to everyone why you think anti-semitism in the anti-Jewish sense of the phrase is a good thing, something you'd like to be called.

That was one hell of an ugly thing you said--maybe you'd like to take it back.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at April 24, 2007 12:11 PM

I had a short email exchange with Matt Welch over that article at the time. It's actually useful--the sanctions opponents (among whom was me) were using numbers that were probably inflated and I think Welch does a good job sorting out the exaggerations of the sanctions opponents and the lying apologetics of the sanctions supporters. The truth as best he could tell using Garfield (who was a co-author on the first Lancet paper estimating Iraq war deaths) was that the toll was in the low hundreds of thousands. That was a valuable contribution to the debate. Welch demolished the over-estimated death tolls, but he also demolished the claims that the sanctions were harmless.

Where he goes really badly wrong is in evaluating the relative sins of the two sides. You can tell in that article that he seems much more offended because Chomsky and Jensen overstate the number of victims than he is by the people who advocated the policy and had the blood of maybe 300,000 children on their hands. (Okay, only 300,000, not over a million). He seems at least as concerned about distancing himself from Chomsky as he is about the deaths. Some of this might be the moral insanity or cowardice that gripped the mainstream left in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when you had to prove you were a good person by bashing people to your left. Of course that impulse is always there, but it was especially strong for a year or two after 9/11.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at April 24, 2007 10:02 PM