Double Standard Stains LA Times’ Stance on Truth

Los Angeles Times

BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

During the last month, the Los Angeles Times first through an editorial and on Thursday via an op-piece authored by Timothy Garton Ash argues that a bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide, which will be taken up by the French Senate on Monday, violates basic rights of free speech and expression.

In both instances, the LA Times states that the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 is undeniably Genocide. And, in both cases the authors cite international declarations and myriad other examples to illustrate their point of view that the French bill is counterproductive, at best.

What both fail to do, however, is address a historical fact that the bill in question is not precedent-setting at all in France, since that fellow democracy adheres to a 1990 law known as the Gayssot Law, which, in short, criminalizes the denial of the Holocaust. In fact, there are several European countries that have very strict anti-Holocaust denial laws—a concept that may be foreign to American socio-political norms.

But is it? Here in the United States there are quite a few laws that characterize hate speech and while late in the making, they are currently being used as basis for punishment of those that carry out racist or discriminatory acts. The French law simply calls the denial of the Genocide an act of discrimination and sets punitive damages for individuals violating it. Does the LA Times mind the laws that punish those who use the “N” word when referring to African-Americans? I highly doubt it!

Immediately after the law was passed in the France’s Lower House, the LA Times, in a December 21 editorial went as far as to call the law censorship.

“Some would say that it’s presumptuous for Americans to lecture the people of a fellow democracy about the rights they accord their citizens. But robust freedom of expression isn’t some American fetish. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers,’” illustrated the editorial.

The irony—absurdity—of the LA Times editorial in invoking the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is that Turkey’s daily attempts (and the US’s aggressive and assertive complicity) in denying the Genocide is a violation of every single article of that very declaration.

In his op-ed piece, Timothy Garton Ash cites what he calls the “pathbreaking 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (‘The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious rights.…’)” as a reason for the French Senate to reject the law and says while the events of 1915 were “terrible” they should be subject to “free historical debate.”

Furthermore, in Thursday’s op-ed, the author suggests that the law is being debated now as a cheap political trick by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is counting on French-Armenian votes in upcoming elections. Can anyone say Barack Obama?

Our venerable president also made promises that the US would stop violating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (the active denial of the Genocide) and, once and for all, will recognize the Armenian Genocide. Or, was it not House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who in 2000, despite his own opposition to the Congressional Genocide bill, vowed to bring the measure to a vote at a press conference in Glendale alongside his Republican ally Rep. Jim Rogan who was fighting for his seat in Congress and aimed to appease Armenian voters by making the memory of 1.5 million victims an electioneering tool? Where was the author’s outrage then?

The LA Times decision to highlight—and vociferously oppose—a piece of legislation in France is a double standard because based on the arguments presented in both instances, the Gayssot Law should have been fervently opposed. The LA Times should apply the same standards, if it chooses to take a position on the way things are done in France, or else its stated commitment to the truth becomes stained.

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19 Comments

  1. zareh said:

    God bless you Ara. I suggest all Armenians to drop their subscription to L.A. Times immediately. I dropped my subscription few years ago for a similar L.A. times editorial piece which was totally anti-Armenian. L.A. Times has, is and will always be anti-Armenian because they follow the scripted line of thought. Yes the genocide happened but lets move on and not dwell much on the past.
    Let me say the following to L.A. Times we will not move on until justice is restored.

  2. Manvel Kevorkian said:

    Since we came to understand that The LA Times is double standard stains I would recommend to the Armenians of Los Angeles not to purchasing such a biased news paper for good.

  3. Tony said:

    I’ve always doubted the LA Times. It seems that the author Timothy Garton Ash is Appeasing and pleasing the country of Turkey. I’m wondering and curious; the question is:
    is he getting any financial compensation/benefit from his NEGATIVE view about ” a bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide in France ?” What say you?

  4. Bob Mason (Vormnaterian) said:

    It would do so much for me to have the Armenian genocide recognized around the world. I honestly believe (and maybe this reflects great cultural blindness on my part) that it would bring such freshness and cleansing to the Turkish people if they could, like Germany, acknowledge the painful truth about what took place in their country.

    2 things bring me great pain for my people. I am pained that sometimes our focus on the deep pain and evil of the genocide eclipses focus on the opportunities of the future. The Christian teaching of forgiveness and the healing to be found in our Savior is designed to help us with this change of focus.

    The other thing that pains me is our willingness to be part of the curttailing of freedom of speech and opinion. Never having lived ‘over there’ where these horrible realities took place may limit my understanding, but I am of the opinion ascribed to Voltaire that “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

    If we merely stifle peoples’ right to say things, we do not change their opinions. Sometimes we reinforce their wrong opinions by ending their ability to discuss them.

    • Avery said:

      “The Christian teaching of forgiveness and the healing to be found in our Savior is designed to help us with this change of focus.”
      Thank God Artsakh’s Archbishop Barkev Martirosyan, as deeply religious Christian as it gets, was there on the front lines with Armenian Christian defenders of their faith. I am sure he had forgiveness in his heart. If someone like you was there instead of him, there would be 10s of thousands fewer Christian Armenians alive today. I am not very well versed in Christ’s teachings, but I don’t think He advised His children to commit suicide.

      “The other thing that pains me is our willingness to be part of the curttailing of freedom of speech and opinion”
      If you are so concerned about freedom of speech, why are you not working to remove laws in Europe that criminalize Denial of Jewish Holocaust.
      And if you live in the US, try to publicly state that the Jewish Holocaust is a hoax: see what happens.
      How come everyone is suddenly concerned about freedom of speech when it comes to the AG ? Is it possible there is ulterior motive ? You think ?

      Your Armenian people are under constant threat of extermination and you are preaching us about freedom of speech and forgiveness ?

      • Bob Mason (Vormnaterian) said:

        There is no doubt that there are ulterior motives. The Turkish government’s opposition is clearly not motivated by a love for free speech.

        I understand that this law’s context is in a country and a Europe in which holocaust denial is outlawed. If it’s OK to have holocaust denial laws, then clearly it’s more than OK, it’s only fair to have AG denial laws. I don’t believe in either one.

        I am glad that France has officially and legally recognized the AG, though.

  5. Satenik said:

    LA Times loves Turks and Turkey. This is not the first time they are taking Turkey’s side as opposed to the truth and justice. Imagine this is a place where there is a big Armenian population but it seems Turkish delights are preferrable to truth and reality. Perhaps Armenians should stop advertising in the LA Times and buying that newspaper all together. Hit them where it hurts!

  6. Satenik said:

    Financial bankrupcy is not the only thing that the USA is suffering from. The moral bankrupcy took place much before that and LA Times demonstrates this pathetic fact perfectly!

  7. Alex Postallian said:

    A limmie sell-out,for the turkish dirty lucre,an educational cripple,who is trying to gain publicity from sensationalism,not from achievements in his own profession.A sad reflection on his educational back ground and status as a human being,not showing concern for the annihilation of Armenians,by the BEAST OF THE EAST(turkey).The L.A.Times is similiar to the N.Y.Times,a liberal rag,biased,and suspect of news.

  8. bayrakiniyakan said:

    Timothy Garton Ash, do you deeply know about the genocide of the Armenian nation ? do you know the history and all the evidence of the crimes and the consciousnesses that the Armenian nation lived and went true ?
    do you know how much of archives exist in the hands of your own US government with all the evidence of Turkey being guilty of genocide ? do you know the US government since 1920 s is acting like the 3 monkeys see no evil hear no evil talk no evil and running from the responsibility of the Treaty of Sevres ,did you ever heard of that treaty ? it is a verdict that INCLUDES THE GREAT SEAL OF US PRESIDENT that America ignores !! Timothy Garton Ash ,do you know that the Turks committed the genocide under the watch eye of Europeans like Germany and France yes FRANCE !! ? do you know whose protecting the GENOCIDAL nation of TURKEY ?
    Timothy Garton Ash are you ignorant on this issue or you acting like an ignorant ? i can ask you so many questions , but one last and the most important question is , who you serving and for what amounts of Turkish Dollars & LIRA’S
    Timothy Garton Ash you better know that a punishment for a crime of genocide it dose not have or recognizes TIME LIMITS , SO THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE IS CURRANT ISSUE FOR ALL TIMES AND IT IS NOT HISTORICAL MATTER !

  9. Haik Azad said:

    Los Fallen Angeles Rhymes,it was once and still is a good newspaper,except for the embarrassing bits.

  10. Diran said:

    The LAT line is one of the most insulting and hurtful forms of denialism: “Yeah, it happened, but why should anyone care?” This has shown up in other places too and we’ll probably be seeing more of it as Turkey throws its weight around even more outrageously than it has up to now.

  11. E.T. said:

    Holocaust denial is illegal in:

    1. Austria
    2. Belgium
    3. Czech Republic
    4. France
    5. Germany
    6. Hungary
    7. Israel
    8. Liechtenstein
    9. Luxembourg
    10. The Netherlands
    11. Poland
    12. Portugal
    13. Romania
    14. Spain
    15. Switzerland
    16. The European Union

    The total number of years served so far by convicted denialists in these countries exceeds 29 years (on 15 convictions).

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_against_Holocaust_denial

    I would like to know what Mr. Garton Ash thinks of these countries who have prosecuted (and rightly so) people for refusing to call things by their names. But…. I agree with one thing – it is ultimately every country’s responsibility to determine which side of history they stand on and no one else should decide for them. However, there’s absolutely no free speech right issue here whatsoever in my opinion, because everyone knows first amendment protection has been withheld in hundreds of cases.

    • Alex Postallian said:

      garton ash is a educational cripple,unsucessful in deed.Check his bank acct after gooble,gooble pays him his undeserved bakseech,for being their STOOGE.

  12. peter megerdumian said:

    I wonder how much Azerii and Turkish oil stock that Professor Ash owns and ihow much money the Turkish government has paid him to write this article.The British have major investments in the Azerbajan and Turkey oil pipeline and many who are associated with Oxford University serve in the British government , think tanks and multi-national corporations. Winston Churchill and the British wanted to trigger civil unrest in Turkey to keep Turkey out of the WWI’s European theatres so that they could occupy the Middle East and steal their oil . The Sykes-Picot Agreement illustrates my point exactly. It was Winston Churchill spread rumors that the Armenians wanted to revolt against the Turks and this propaganda was the spark that triggered the Armenian genocide. ARMENIANS MUST BOYCOTT THE LA TIMES AND ARMENIAN STORES MUST STOP SELLING THE LA TIMES NEWSPAPERS AND STOP PLACING ADVERTISEMENTS IN THE LA TIMES. THEY SHOULD DIVEST FROM ANY STOCKS THAT HAVE TIES TO THE TRIBUNE COMPANY WHO OWNS THE LA TIMES AND CHANNEL 5.

  13. peter megerdumian said:

    The LA times editors have been denying the genocide in their editorials many times and Armenians have to teach them a lesson. This will work because these newspapers are already in financial difficulty so lets hurt them even more. The LA times who owns the Glendale newspapers certainly made sure publicize the Armenian power crackdown very effectively as a weapon to smear the reputation of Armenians. This is all a purposeful campaign. They obviously have some ties with the Turkish government.

  14. Sako said:

    GOD BLESS YOU ARA, MY GRAND FATHER (A VERY HONORABLE MAN) WAS MURDERED BY TURKS DURING THE ARMENIAN-GENOCIDE…HOW CAN I FORGET THAT & WAIT TO REST UNTILL IT IS RECOGNIZED & FOLLOWED WITH THE RIGHTFUL PROCESS THEREAFTER…

  15. Ed from Fresno said:

    The Hoover Institute and the L.A. Times,the right and the left,show how even the well-educated can be
    blissfully ignorant in their imperialism..Has the European Court of Human Rights had any problems with
    existing French legislation that has produced criminal convictions,as Professor Bernard Lewis of Princeton
    can testify?The French legislation has support across the political spectrum and Sarkozy’s burst of energy is
    helped by the fact that the right has just lost the Senate majority .He doesn’t want the left to have the monopoly of political credit.
    On a related subject,does your editorial board favor full-membership for Turkey in the European Union
    with unlimited immigration rights for Turks?If so,I advise President Sarkozy to stand on a platform in
    Tijuana and declare,”President Obama,tear down this wall!” Happy demographic surge!

  16. V.K said:

    I think it would be wise if these comments were sent to LA times instead of asbarez..if LA times wrote an article gainst the jews I bet you the whole comment section of that article would be inundated with comments and request for apologies and demands to punish the writer. We on the other hand sit and write articles and comments in our own papers which won’t have any effect on the writer or the paper..Mr. Ara, next time please forward a copy of your writings to the newspaper in question and send a copy to an Armenian newspaper.

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