Armenian Scholars at the Center of Genocide Denial

Absolut Denial of the Armenian Genocide

BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

The Turkish Studies Project of the University of Utah convened its fourth conference on on Wednesday in Tbilisi, Georgia. The conference is entitled “The Caucasus at Imperial Twilight: Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Nation-Building (1870s-1920s).”

The Turkish Studies Project at Utah, directed by Prof. M. Hakan Yavuz of the Department of Political Science, is funded by the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA), one of the most active U.S.-based groups promoting denial of the Armenian Genocide (the TCA is also specified as a sponsor of the conference). The Project was established in 2009 through the TCA’s financial support.

The Turkish Coalition of America has gained notoriety since its establishment in 2007 for its aggressive promotion of “the contra-genocide narrative” through funding scholarship that casts doubt on the facts of the Genocide, pursuing aggressive legal measures such as its lawsuit (which was dismissed) against the University of Minnesota and its Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and working against U.S. recognition of the Genocide by the U.S. Congress and Executive Branch.

In light of the TCA’s support of the conference, it is not surprising to find such names as Norman Stone, Justin McCarthy, Michael Gunter, and Kemal Cicek among the participants. Each is well known for writings that attempt to undercut the veracity of the Armenian Genocide.

What is surprising, however, is the presence of a number of Armenian scholars, both from the Republic of Armenia and from the United States, including one member of the organizing committee.

Lately, certain elements in Armenian academia have been advancing the warped notion that by taking part in denialist or denialist-organized conferences they can counter claims by Turkey and its mouthpieces whose careers have hinged on historical revisionism. Yet we have seen no proof of that.

As these Armenian academicians gallivant around the world from one conference to another, the government of Turkey continues to invest millions to infiltrate academic circles in the US and elsewhere.

The participation of some of the Armenian scholars on the roster of the Tbilisi conference is not surprising as they “sold out” a long time ago. What is more disturbing is the participation of a younger generation of academicians who fervently argue that their presence at such conferences bolsters the Armenian position when, in reality, it goes a long way in advancing Turkey’s decades-long denialist policies.

The Armenian scholars’ participation in the conference does not end with presenting papers and includes Armenians who are listed as organizers on the program.

In the absence of efforts by Armenia to produce a new generation of multi-lingual Armenian scholars, coupled with the laissez-faire attitude of those who make it a point to be at the forefront of denialist scholarship, the academic pursuit of the Armenian Cause is taking a step backward.

Therefore, these Armenian scholars who are participating in these conferences should be accountable to the public and through the Armenian press must report on their efforts to “counter” Genocide denial in these forums. After all, the same scholars took great advantage of the arena presented by the Armenian press during their nascent days as burgeoning scholars.

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35 Comments

  1. George Aghjayan said:

    Thank you for this welcome editorial. While there are many layers to the question of when and how to engage genocide deniers, it appears those who participated in this case have oversimplified the issue in order to avoid the difficult questions. It is delusional to think that one can “convince” a denier of genocide as if they are somehow lacking access to information that is convincing. The Armenian Genocide is so well documented, that any denier, in this day and age, has an agenda that diverges widely from academic integrity. Those that have shifted their position from denial to acceptance have done so because to do otherwise undermines their scholarly credibility. Participating in these conferences, in this way, only removes that stigma and thus allows for the denial to continue. It seems some amnesia has set in and these academics should reacquaint themselves with the available scholarly research on genocide denial.

  2. danoog said:

    Like whores on the street corner, historians can be bought if the price is right.

  3. EM said:

    Seriously? I keep on expecting quality journalism to come through from Asbarez one bright day, but these sort of nonsensical nationalistic rants which don’t take too much intellectual capacity to put together seems to be what the paper excels in. “Sold out”? I’d say you can do better, but article after article seems to suggest otherwise. If you ask me, the “sell outs” are the ones who continue to cater to the emotional sentiments of certain segments of our communities abroad in hopes of furthering their own (very) narrow interests.

    • BK said:

      Care to explain how this is a nonsensical nationalistic rant?
      1. nonsensical
      2. nationalistic
      3. rant

      None of this sees to apply if you ask me.

    • Tsoghig said:

      Not sure if you are aware but the author is the editor of the paper, which thereby makes this article an EDITORIAL. Have you EM ever read an Editoial in any paper? Editorials are forums in which opinions are expressed and I, along with many other readers, share the opinion of this Editorial in that Armenians who “sell out” or who think it is ok to have their weekend paid for by denialist anti-Armenians should be called out in our community. These “scholars” can not be trusted and the Armenian community should know the truth about who these “scholars” are and we can all decide for ourselves whether or not we are going to support them.

  4. Tsayt said:

    Why are you surprised?? You think the “businessmen” leadership of Armenia, down deep, gives a damn about the genocide? They line up annually with long-stem carnation in hand and stand for a photo-op. That’s it.

    What have they, the government that is, done to educate the young generation of Armenians about the genocide in public schools, what conferences have they held within Armenia to debate and analyze the decision of the Ottoman Empire to embark on eliminating the Armenian nation. I bet the youth of Armenia has no idea about the background and the sentiments of diaspora Armenian youth. To my knowledge there has been no work done in bringing together these two important segments of the Armenian societies (youth of Armenia and Diaspora) for the purpose of exchanging views and opinions and tactics about the genocide.

    With a corrupt non-national leadership it is no wonder that the new generation of academicians will follow suit with a nonchalant attitude against an extremely well organized Turkish denial machine.

  5. Rafi Chapanian said:

    I am a regular reader of ASBAREZ. We expect better and more informative postings from ASBAREZ. Please provide details about the topics that the Armenian and other participants will cover in the conference. Being passive on the Armenian Genocide issue will not help us, we should attend each and every conference, and engage the world to explain what happened to us and demand our rights and lands.

    • BK said:

      Someone didn’t get the point. Being passive is one thing, going to events where denialists gather to do some propaganda and thereby adding to the credibility of such events bar the chance of convincing anyone makes no sense and the opposite is not automatically passivity. (nobody cares about these conferences other than the people who share the same agenda, you are not going to convince any denialist, nor does anyone else care)

  6. Ara said:

    And why you don’t publish the names of the scholars and institutions ? WHY?

    • Tsoghig said:

      You can click on the highlighted sentences in the Editorial and they will take you to the program with all the speakers.

  7. Andreas Bayandurian said:

    I don’t understand. Is this an article reporting on an event or an editorial? If a scholar wishes to participate in a conference, then they have the right to do so. A scholar should be judged by the merit and quality of his research, not by his association with an individual whose opinion might differ with his. So let’s leave out this ridiculous shaming ritual where we engage in a practice that’s supposed to make someone else feel bad because he doesn’t toe the line that a political party dictates. I mean really “Held accountable” for what? Consider their research, read up their opinions and learn their positions and then tell readers that they should shun and holler at these individuals.

    Are we living in the United States, where one is able to express himself freely, or some backwater country where a particular individual or political party tells people how to think and act?

  8. Raffi Bairamian said:

    Those are not Armenian Scholars but a group of liars who sold their values , beliefs , and dignity for a bunch of dollars. Those are parasites and will not effect our Just Cause and we are immune against such parasites.

  9. vartan said:

    THEY ARE NOT SCHOLERS. THEY ARE BUNCH OF DUMB SELF SATIDFIED SUDOSCHOLERS WHICH ,BY THEIR ACTIONS HELPING FOX OREINTED TURKISH POLICIES . IT IS THE TIME TO MENTION THEIR NAME AND POSSITIONS AND CONNECTIONS. IN EVERY ARMEINAN MEDIA AND EVEN PUNISH THEM FOR THEIR TRIZEN

  10. lobo said:

    For once absolutely agree. Great way of actually adding what has to look like credibility to otherwise 100% pro denialist and therefore blatant propaganda meetings. Nice going, keep up your great academic work…

  11. Garo Yeghichian said:

    This sort of cowards the Armenians had them in the past.this low people (can`t be any lower) they do any thing for money but at the end they pay for there own mistakes heavely.

  12. Tsoghig said:

    I don’t understand this. Why would the ATA invite Armenians to be a part of the conference, and what exactly are these Armenians saying at the conference? If any of the Armenian “scholars” are reading this comment, I call on you to provide your speeches to the Asbarez and to the Armenian public. We would all like to know what you said and what the response by the Turks and Azeri’s were. We have known since the begining of time that Libaridian is a total sell out, but the other names are new to me. These “scholars” need to know that the Armenian people will not tolerate sell outs and their attempts to build bridges or whatever their intentions are, are futile as long as 1. Turkey vehemently denies Armenians reperations and restitution for the Genocide 2. Turkey blocks our borders 3. Azeris continue to instigate the next war by killing our soldiers at the border. Maybe we should invite these same scholars to a town hall meeting and ask them to answer our questions.

  13. hrair said:

    What good can come of this sort of article if you’re making an incomplete reporting and arrive at conclusions based on the same. The question is who are you doing a favor and or who are you protecting by not reviling the names of this scholars and universities/ organizations?
    This is a classic case of an old school Armenian mentality, a favoritism and an “ amman mezme chella” sort of approach that is not good for the Armenian cause, the Armenian nation or for that matter for anyone. It is this sort of old mentality approaches that makes the new generation detest the Armenian community organizations and life. We expect better from Asbarez…
    Now, please write a new article, a complete one, an article with specific names.
    Thank you

  14. AnaG. said:

    Author does not clarify how participation of Armenian historians in this conference (with purpose of DESAGREE and go against the whole conference of denial) is bad for our cause when some might think it is pretty brave to go to such a gathering and show our point, our history, our prove. If they did a good job in this, why hold them “accountable’ for the participation? Genocide resolution will happen not through war (I hope nobody expects that we, Armenians, are going to start was for our land, right?) so the only solution left is to sit around the round table and find a solution, make the Turkey and the world accept the Armenian Genocide  

  15. amb said:

    The name of participating scholars are in a link in the article, click on it (here’s the link: http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=H-Turk&month=1305&msg=axPD0UdUxaakeNUxBb3moQ)

    If our case is solid proof, which it is, then we have nothing to fear in engaging, all the time, in discussions and debates with others on the case of the Genocide, as a matter of fact more we engage and debate the opposition the better, that’s how we help spread our cause, not just by force, protest and anger, but also by reasoned debate and rational examination of facts.

  16. bigmoustache said:

    Thanks to these scholars and certain naive individual Turks can call it a debate. Which is exactly what they’re trying to do. They are trying to muddy the waters by saying its a “debate”. These scholars SHOULD be ashamed. Its because of idiots like those that newspaper articles call it a “feud” between Armenians and turks. ITS NOT A TWO SIDED STORY! Stop giving the Turks a platform to spread their doubt about the Armenian Genocide

    • BK said:

      Time to give up, brother. Look at the comments, more than 50% don’t even understand this much.

  17. John Evans said:

    Leaving the field to one’s opponents does not seem to me a very effective way of changing anyone’s mind. The conference in Tbilisi may have been organized by groups with a denialist reputation, but what an opportunity that presents for those who know a thing or two about the Genocide. For example, Amb. Ara Papian, who is an expert on President Wilson’s arbitral award, must have shaken things up a bit. It takes courage and preparation to go up against determined intellectual and political foes, but those who do so ought not to face recriminations from their own ranks; rather, we should applaud them, urge them on!

  18. Garen Yegparian said:

    I’m a bit surprised by the apparent confusion some commenters express. The question “what’s the harm” is presented in multiple ways.

    Here’s the answer in different terms: Remember the adage “lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas”. In this case the “fleas” (denialists) are intentionally rounding up “clean” people so it looks like there’s no flea infestation. By participating, our respectable scholars lend their hard-earned credibility to the deniers. It’s an image thing. Very few people will read or hear the substantive remarks made by ANY of the scholars at any conference. What will, be perceived, remembered, is that a denialist and a decent person sat next to each other and “debated”. This white-washes the denialists’ dirty doings. It’s like money laundering, where drug money is run through, say a grocery store, where it “becomes” part of the store’s sales, masking its origins.

    I hope this helps clarify the why it’s problematic for good people to associate with denialists.

  19. Brett said:

    Sorry to put it harshly but, even if turkey says “ok ottomans committed genocide on Armenians” the fact is no ones daily life is going to change. It might get one segment on CNN.

    I think, and have already seen posted, that some Armenians think that somehow turkey is going to be forced to pay some crushing amount of restitution and gain turkish land. When in the real world that would never ever happen.

    Being the second largest military in NATO and ninth in the world. And not to say there scary growing ties with Georgia militarily and already sworn protectors of each other – Azerbaijan and there three connecting BTC pipeline bringing gas oil and now gas to Europe. Oh and now I’ve read that Israel and Cyprus and turkey are coming to terms and Cyprus-Israel new oil fields will be another pipeline into turkey to Europe.
    If the Jews and Cypriots mend with turkey that is the nail in the coffee because USA will be ecstatic on there allies turks and Israelis playing nice.

    Another point, We went to Iraq and Afghanistan and we lost thousands of lives, those countries don’t even rank in any aspect. So as an American our government may ask for recognition but that’s where it will end.

    Way to much to lose for the superpowers of the world for enforcement of anything other them asking for recognition, and even then life will still go on.

    • BK said:

      I think, and have already seen posted, that some Americans think that somehow Iraq is going o be forced to pay compensation for soldiers’ lifes lost in the war. But that doesn’t make me go to some forum and explain to them that this will not happen. In other words: What is your point?

      Your entire post is pretty paradox, as you are trying to explain (to whom?) that no compensation will have to follow recognition (basing this on the size of Turkey’s army rather than international law which is one of the main reasons for denialists to do their job) while at the same time stating that your government can ask for recognition of lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. Taking aside that dying was part of the job of these people and you are comparing a genocide to nothing noteworthy, your initial argument would require you to say: “Why ask for recognition in the first place?” – that is of course if you don’t want to sound like a hypocrite.

  20. Artak said:

    As long as you have corrupt Armenian scholars in the United States (and you would be the first to defend them tooth and nail…) who pretty much only think about their positions and money, you will have this again and again. Those young scholars that you talk about have never been supported by those placed scholars who are not defending academic truth, so they are an easy pray for the Turkish government which actually goes out of its way to placate them. Good job for the Turks for doing what Armenians are not doing. It is sad, but poetic justice. We will see more such “swan song” articles in the future, while the Armenian people further evaporate as a community without proper intellectual leadership (headed by the corrupt ones), caught up in the “trill” of making that dollar.

  21. Parsik said:

    I personally always like Stolichnaya better, it is not as dry Swedish stuff but sure bang you harder in no time, so I will drink and deny anything, what is this world going to?, is there ever been justice in past or present, I really doubt so, only power speaks the right words and you naive Armenians will never grasp the reality

    • BK said:

      Oh another one of this kind. OK, there never has been justice, so we are living in a world where whoever has power can do what he wants? Well, even the blind would have to admit that this is not entirely true, the reasons being too many to explain someone who goes on to say that “you naive Armenians will never grasp the reality”.

      I am not sure why Asbarez would even allow for posts to be published, but forcing your personal nihilism and (in order to avoid the R-word) ethnical bias on others on the internet is soooo hardcore , “Parsik”.

  22. Ahmet said:

    If you armenians think your story is indisputable, why worry about “bunch of scholars”?

    • BK said:

      I have known that the Turkish IQ is somewhat below average (not my opinion, you are free to look it up), but really? Don’t try to be witty, you need at least basic education and intellect in order to pull that off.

  23. vartan said:

    to you mr parsik or whatever your F………. IS go ahead and make fun of 70 mil mulas . they destroyed your culture .your values and every thing else . now you are talking about naivity come on ,not you

  24. Alex Postallian said:

    The smartest Armenian was—Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian——When the oil was discovered in Iraq,turkey controlled that area–He owned 52% of the turkish petroleum co—–How– by bribing the pashas,governors,he controlled the majority.When all the oil thieves Britain,France,Dutch Oil-trying to undermind each other–he became the catalyst. For that he got 5% of all the oil out of Iraq.He was the worlds richest man.. He didn’t tell them what liars they were,he got in the stupid turks pocket first.Maybe that is why the turks,dont like the Armenians, they were duped,like they are duping azerbaturk,for the oil money.

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