Comments: Holocaust Denier In Chief

*resists urge to make "Why do you keep picking on the Turks?" joke*

...

*unsuccessfully*

It says nothing about the ethics of Ahmadinejad's cheesy publicity stunt one way or the other, but it's fairly obvious the chief motivation for it was to give a giant nose-thumbing to the "West" in response to the serried ranks of cretins shouting "freedom of speech!" or "Enlightenment values!" in relation to the Mohamed cartoons fiasco. Of course, the notion that anything designated bad guys do could possibly be in response to anything our societies/governments/leaders have done is inexpressible in the media and this was certainly the case with Nutty Mahmoud's Wacko-Fest. Given a media system that obsessed for weeks (albeit six months late and with little or no comprehension of the antecedents of the scandal in Denmark) over the Jutland Post's cheesy publicity stunt, it's strange when the conference arrived the previous scandal went unmentioned - even though Ahmadinejad had announced the conference months before in precisely that context. But that's the ironclad rule: We respond; They do crazy shit for no reason at all.

Of course, now the tool - and he is a tool - can say "Well, I'll pay as much regard to the Jewish genocide as the US government does to the Armenian genocide." Not that he couldn't already. And not mentioning *cough* other parties and their politically realist regard for the Armenian genocide.

Posted by RobWeaver at March 17, 2009 08:30 PM

Newspapers still report the number of Iraqi civilian deaths as being in the "tens of thousands". Literally true, I guess, since the actual number is roughly 100 ten thousands.

Posted by Mark at March 17, 2009 08:53 PM

What Mark said. Denying atrocities that are ideologically inconvenient to acknowledge is something people do everywhere--Holocaust denial is just a particularly spectacular example.

I'm gonna guess, though, that Ahmadinejad is partly motivated by anti-semitism.

Posted by Donald Johnson at March 17, 2009 09:49 PM

I don't understand how a holocaust denial can be motivated by hatred of those who were killed. Seriously, I don't. Could someone connect the dots for me, please.

It would seem more logical for those motivated by hatred of those who were killed to justify and glorify the corresponding genocides.

For example, people like Alan Dershowitz and Tom Freedman justify killing masses of civilians as a means to teach an ethno-religious group a lesson. The don't deny it, they insist on it. They view genocide as a defensive and moral act, just like the Nazis did. And it makes perfect sense that this would be their position.

Why would someone, motivated by hatred for the victims, deny a genocide? This doesn't make sense.

Posted by abb1 at March 18, 2009 04:46 AM

The world is not 'weird'. The world is utterly and completely fucked up.

Posted by NomadUK at March 18, 2009 08:18 AM

Why would someone, motivated by hatred for the victims, deny a genocide? This doesn't make sense.

So that the victims can no longer be cast in the role of victims. If you hate Jews, and you see that Jewish people get a lot of sympathy from the world because of the Holocaust in their past, this makes it harder for you to openly hate Jews and much harder to openly call for their marginalization in society (or worse). But if you can call into question the act that the Jewish people are receiving sympathy for, you might think that you can undercut that sympathy. I think that's why American racists like David Duke find Holocaust denial attractive. (Of course people are very complex - Deniers probably have lots of reasons for their attitudes.)

Posted by NonyNony at March 18, 2009 09:12 AM

Christopher Simpson's THE SPLENDID BLOND BEAST did a great job of why America, post-war, switched from condemning the Armenian holocaust to downplaying and ignoring it. The primary reason? Oil in Turkish-controlled areas of the Mideast.

But, really, isn't it okay to deny and ignore who killed whom as long as it interferes with one's view of the world?

Posted by Bob In Pacifica at March 18, 2009 09:15 AM

Apparently gas and oil covers a multitude of sins.

Posted by Mike Meyer at March 18, 2009 11:13 AM

The primary reason? Oil in Turkish-controlled areas of the Mideast.

What oil? I think you are mixing up the Turks with the Arabs or the Persians.

Posted by empty at March 18, 2009 11:49 AM

Don't forget the Native American holocaust

Posted by par4 at March 18, 2009 02:50 PM

those politically shrewd chicago boyz are probably just waiting till 4/22 so CNN et al can 'service' them with proper gusto.

Posted by tim at March 18, 2009 02:59 PM

Yeah, I dunno, this all seems very complicated, but I suspect denying someone's claim on victimhood is kinda different from hatred.

My parents for example are very much annoyed by African-Americans' victimhood claims (especially by Maya Angelou, for some reason). You know, the usual: they just should shape up, tough it out, and anyway all their problems are nothing compare to our sufferings from antisemitism. I suspect this is a pretty common sentiment. They do, IMO, minimize racism against the blacks, the effects of slavery, segregation, and so on. Which is, it seems to me, something similar to holocaust denialism. And yet, I don't really see them hating the blacks.

Posted by abb1 at March 18, 2009 03:57 PM

Remember the Clinton Golden Years of Peace and Prosperity? It isn't genocide if you don't say it's genocide. And if it isn't genocide, you don't have to do anything about it. 1,000,000 dead Rwandans may differ, but that was Slick Willie's policy.

Posted by AlanSmithee at March 18, 2009 04:48 PM

Good point, Alan. Concidering OUR history in the Congo, one might surmise, WE mighta had somethin' to do with that.

Posted by Mike Meyer at March 18, 2009 04:53 PM

Don't forget the American proxy meat-grinder in Columbia guys. It's even better, cause it's ongoing. That money sure must be worth it.

Posted by tim at March 18, 2009 05:13 PM

Chomsky took a lot of heat a while back for suggesting that he had not seen proof of Robert Faurisson's anti-semitism & suggesting that holocaust denial in itself did not constitute proof of anti-semitism. His (very logical) example is this: imagine somebody from Mars, who has no knowledge of history, and refuses to believe that people could be so terrible as to inflict the holocaust on anybody. Obviously this person is not motivated by anti-semitism.

I like the example of the Armenians as an addendum.

Posted by erik at March 18, 2009 06:22 PM

I find it hard to believe the our government would treat human life so callously, disregarding millions of deaths for political gain. I'm pretty sure there is no precedent for that in this nation.

Posted by ChrisV82 at March 18, 2009 09:38 PM

Can someone explain to me Turkish intransigence on this subject? You'd think after almost a century - and a significant revolution - they'd be able to admit that the previous empire may have made a mistake. Why don't they?

Posted by saurabh at March 18, 2009 11:23 PM

saurabh,

My incredibly limited understanding, culled from sources I don't even remember, is that Turkey currently requires a victim narrative to function, and internalizing the reality of the Armenian Genocide would jeopardize that narrative. Why this should be, I don't think I ever knew.

Posted by Save the Oocytes at March 19, 2009 01:29 AM

The problem with Chomsky's defence of Faurisson are that:

a.) the articles about the Faurisson affair that Chomsky claimed to have read had documented Faurisson's ties to racist groups and political extremism; and

b.) Robert Faurisson is not from Mars, he is from France, which was governed by a collaborationist regime that took an active role in Germany's genocidal policies from 1940 to 1944.

c.) Being that Faurisson is French, he hasn't the excuse that he is foreigner (say, from Mars), who is simply issuing a statement of disbelief upon first hearing news of an extraordinarily dramatic historical event.

d.) Furthermore, Faurisson presents himself as a scholarly expert and not as a visitor from Mars, and Chomsky refuses to address charges that Faurisson is misrepresenting and sometimes falsifying evidence.

So, I would have to judge Chomsky's argument not so much "logical" as "sophistic."

Now, I think it better that we get back to discussing why the Armenian genocide is not more widely recognized.

Posted by Ian Thal at March 19, 2009 09:22 AM

Well, Ian, I guess your argument makes sense; or, at least, it would for someone entirely incapable of distinguishing between the general and the particular.

Posted by RobWeaver at March 19, 2009 09:52 AM

Chomsky's argument does, in fact, make perfect sense. The thesis is phrased by Erik (above): "holocaust denial in itself did not constitute proof of anti-semitism." To prove it all you need a single counter-example, and "visitor from Mars" is sufficient. That's all there is to it.

Posted by abb1 at March 19, 2009 11:38 AM

I think Turkey (meaning its gov't and military) require a spotless memory of Ataturk, more than a victim narrative. They can allow that mistakes were made, on both sides of an unfortunate conflict, because that reduces the atrocities to the kind of messy unavoidable stuff that happens in any war, and thus doesn't indict Ataturk.

Posted by jerry at March 19, 2009 11:42 AM

Perhaps Turkey thinks someone still holds a grudge over the matter.

Posted by Mike Meyer at March 19, 2009 01:56 PM

I don't think this is about Ataturk; there's clearly something more universal here. It's the same story with the Nanking massacre, for example.

Posted by abb1 at March 19, 2009 02:15 PM

Not to oversimplify this, but anyone who's been flipped off by a driver who'd just cut them off on the freeway will understand what's going on here. Human beings aren't big fans of taking responsibility for their worst actions.

Also, as Molly Ivins observed, "most people have a very hard time forgiving those whom they have deeply wronged."

Posted by John Caruso at March 19, 2009 02:33 PM

It's the same story with the Nanking massacre, for example.

Sure, and it was the same story (and still is, to some degree) with the U.S. wiping out American Indians. While it was at its peak, and for a hundred years afterward, all we were doing was weeping copious tears at our generosity toward them. I'm sure you could find Turkish leaders during World War I talking about the astonishing decency they were showing the dirty Armenian rat-pigs.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at March 19, 2009 02:41 PM

Saurabh:

Its not totally rational but here are some of the reasons.

1. After the first world war the British, French and Italians in their carve up of Ottoman lands included the partitioning of present day Turkey amongst themselves and others including the Greeks and the Armenians. The Greeks got the west (except for Istanbul and its environs which were under "international control), the Italians got the southwest. France got the region east of the Italians, the British got the southeast and the Armenians got the northwest. Wilson in his wisdom had drawn the borders of Armenia. The whole fun was undone by Ataturk's independence war which ended with the treaty of Lausanne which basically repudiated Sevres. The Turks feel that in spite of Lausanne the West really has never given up its hopes of carving it up into yummy bite sized morsels and therefore view with suspicion anything which could lead to a restoration of the dreams of Sevres. They view the Armenian claim of genocide as a prelude to a demand for Wilsonian Armenia and the carving up of Turkey.

2. In 1915 the Russians defeated the Ottomans and took control of what would be Wilsonian Armenia. They planned to replace the Turks with Cossacks. When they withdrew because they had a revolution to go to Armenian volunteers took over. If you talk to Turks in the region you run into people who claim (sincerely as far as I could see) that their family members had been slaughtered by the Armenians who took over from the Russians. When the Ottomans took over again they saw the Armenians as a fifth column and proceeded towards a wholesale cleansing/transfer/relocation/genocide of the Armenians. The Turks see this as a tit for tat in which both populations suffered casualties which should be recognized. Focusing only on Armenian losses to them seems one-sided.

Jerry:
Ataturk had nothing to do with the whole business. He comes later in the history. Recognition of a genocide would not affect his memory.

Posted by empty at March 19, 2009 04:01 PM

Human beings aren't big fans of taking responsibility

Right, human beings I understand, but identifying yourself so strongly with your country (or your ethnic group) 100 years ago seems weird. You're a Turk and so you must defend what some Turks did 100 years ago?

Posted by abb1 at March 19, 2009 04:17 PM

I guess somebody DOES hold a grudge.

Posted by Mike Meyer at March 19, 2009 05:05 PM

identifying yourself so strongly with your country (or your ethnic group) 100 years ago seems weird. You're a Turk and so you must defend what some Turks did 100 years ago?

I myself will never allow anyone to besmirch the good name of the Wends. No one has been victimized more than us, so even if we killed millions of people it was justified and it didn't happen anyway.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at March 19, 2009 05:07 PM

Be still my beating heart. A Texas Wend?

Posted by empty at March 19, 2009 05:28 PM

A Texas Wend?

Actually, I don't know. It's my grandfather who was part-Wendish, and I assume his family originally arrived in Texas like most Wends. But eventually they ended up in Oregon.

Our Wendish heritage is not strong, to be honest. My grandfather didn't know about it himself until one day when he was riding on a train and someone came up to him and asked, "Excuse me...but are you, by any chance, a Wend?"

Apparently he had a characteristic big, round Wendish head. Anyway, he asked his parents about it, and they told him the Dark Secret of his Wendish past.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at March 19, 2009 05:56 PM

*reads link*

Hmmm. I've often wondered if there was much antipathy between the Sorbs and the Serbs.

Posted by RobWeaver at March 19, 2009 07:33 PM