Rationalizing Genocide Denial: Asbarez’s Response to Libaridian

Genocide denial

On June 5, Asbarez published an article by its editor, Ara Khachatourian, entitled “Armenian Scholars at the Center of Genocide Denial,” in which he questioned the participation of Armenian scholars at a conference in Tbilisi organized by the Turkish Studies Project of the University of Utah, which is funded by the notorious Genocide denial-machine known as the Turkish Coalition of America.

Arguing that the participation of Armenian scholars in such conferences feeds into the decades-long Turkish denialist efforts, Khachatourian challenged the Armenian scholars who went to Tbilisi to “be accountable to the public” and through the Armenian press “report on their efforts to ‘counter’ Genocide denial in these forums.”

Asbarez subsequently published a letter to the editor on the matter and republished a piece from its sister publication, The Armenian Weekly, entitled “The Case Against Legitimizing Genocide Deniers: Scholars Speak Up,” in which several prominent scholars expressed their views on the Tbilisi conference.

Soon after the publication of the aforementioned articles, Asbarez was contacted by Professor Jirair Libaridian, who was scheduled to deliver a keynote at the Tbilisi conference, asking for an opportunity to respond to the articles. Libaridian was the former adviser to President Levon Ter-Petrosian.

We received his response, in which he terms the Asbarez article “libelous,” and are publishing it simultaneously with our response. While Libaridian claims he is answering the challenge put forth by Khachatourian in his initial article, the response is a lengthy rationalization of Armenian scholars’ participation in conferences organized by Turkish denialists as well as misplaced attacks on Asbarez and The Armenian Weekly. Judge for yourself.

It is also worth noting that the Turkish press and the TCA went to great lengths to admonish Asbarez and The Armenian Weekly, accusing the publications of “doing everything they can to block the way forward, even putting heavy pressure on Armenians who want to participate in these programs. In this way, many intellectuals are prevented from joining in the general process of compromise and solution-finding [Today’s Zaman 6/19/2012].” The same publication dubbed the Armenians who participated in the conference as scholars who are “open to compromise.”

Similarly, the TCA, in an electronic newsletter sent to its supporters condemned Asbarez and The Armenian Weekly for “humiliating” and “threatening” the scholars who took part in the Tbilisi conference.

The TCA went on to deny the Genocide further by saying: “The fact remains that the full narrative of the contested historical period is still a matter of controversy among historians and other scholars. The continued study of this period in Ottoman-Armenian relations is essential. But such study should not require a genocide-or-not-genocide litmus test as an entry point.”

A US Federal Appeals Court in May 2012 designated TCA as an organization engaging in Genocide denial when it sued an academic institution for advancing Genocide awareness. In his response, Libaridian neglects to discuss the TCA’s denialist track record and the impact the organization had on the Tbilisi conference and on Genocide denial generally.

Libaridian’s assertion that Asbarez, Khachatourian or The Armenian Weekly should have contacted him prior to publishing the articles, which he calls an “assault,” is unwarranted since Khachatourian and the subsequent articles substantiated the premise and, in Khachatourian’s case, challenged the Armenian scholars in attendance to present to the public the thesis they presented, not merely as justification for participation but to enlighten the Armenian public at large about the ways in which they are countering denialist efforts, even if they are attending conferences organized by rabid deniers. Incidentally, none of the participants have answered Khachatourian’s call as of the date of this publication.

“We believe that denialist-funded and denialist-organized conferences are best left to denialists,” wrote The Armenian Weekly in its response to the same article by Libaridian.

It seems Libaridian is outraged that Asbarez and The Armenian Weekly informed their readers about the existence of such a conference. If we had not shed light on the Tbilisi conference, Libaridian and the academicians who participated in the conference would have gone about their business of scholarship without being called to task or accountability.

In its response, the Weekly also argued that “Had Holocaust scholars not had the wisdom to marginalize Holocaust deniers decades ago, they would still be arguing with fringe elements because denialists will never be satisfied with any amount of evidence presented.”

We remain steadfast in our opposition to any effort to deny the Armenian Genocide or dispute its veracity. Hence our publication’s strong stance against the dangerous Armenia-Turkey Protocols and its predecessor—enabler—the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission,  which had an agenda to discuss the “historical fact” of the Armenian Genocide and emboldened the notion argued by Turks that the veracity of the Genocide can be questioned within political and academic circles. At the same time, we reiterate the challenge posed by Khachatourian in his initial article to the Armenian scholars who attended the Tbilisi conference.

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12 Comments

  1. Tsoghig said:

    Keep up the good work Ara. The first reaction people have when they know they have done something wrong is be defensive. I support and stand by the Asbarez and the Weekly!

  2. Sako said:

    “Libaridian was the former adviser to President Levon Ter-Petrosian”
    Pretty much says it all doesn’t it?

  3. Zaven said:

    Libaridian is a misguided member of the old foolish guard who continues to deliberately feed rabid fringe elements of xenophobic genocide deniers and their pathetic enablers. The most effective response to him and his ilk is: public shaming. I am so grateful and proud that our astute and responsible Editors of Asbarez and The Armenian Weekly have brought this to our attention. Tarc, the protocols and any attempt to question established facts about the Armenian Genocide should receive similar rebuke. Bravo and keep up the great work!

  4. Garo Yeghichian said:

    Which is the delegation who nominate Mr. Libaridian as the armenians representative for this unnatural Conferance?or may he wants to be sweet and frendly with Turks for his own good purposes.

  5. logic said:

    I agree completely with the views of Prof. Libaridian. The efforts of the Armenian social, civic, and business leaders of the past 50 years have had very little success in bringing about justice for the crimes of the genocide.

    In my view, this is because very few of our intelligentsia have focused their efforts on getting actual results. Instead, as everyone knows, Armenians only bicker to one another and never actually do anything.

    1) Most large Armenian organizations are bogged down by old views that Turks are bad people. In reality they are just people who are trying to live their lives and be true to what they “know”. Much in the same way that Armenians and every other human does.

    2) There is also a prevalent view in most organizations (including Asbarez) that any sort of “compromise” is a bad thing. Attending a conference is a “bad” because it “feeds into the decades-long Turkish denialist efforts”. This is the same attitude of bickering and doing nothing that the Armenian “leadership” has employed in their efforts for the past 50 years.

    We can either sit and home and write angry news posts which are never actually read by anyone of importance outside the Armenian community (except maybe Turks). Or we can do what Prof. Libaridian is suggesting and confront the genocide deniers, provide an opposing view point to attending delegates, and actually do something about our problems.

    Asbarez should use its pulpit to encourage innovative and fresh thinking on our problems and instead uses it to complain, exponentially affecting the attitudes of all of its readers to the point that many Armenians believe nothing they could ever do would have an impact. And can you blame the average Armenian when all they ever hear is negativity from other Armenians?

    At the very least if Asbarez is not going to do anything and support new ways of thinking, it should stop bickering and infecting the Armenian population with its horrible and unproductive attitude.

    • George said:

      1. You have to be completely ignorant of Turkish-Armenian history to say that Turks are not bad people. They are the most bloodthirsty, barbaric, and unintelligent race of people on this planet.

      2. There is no “logic” in compromising with those who have repeatedly sought to wipe your fellow Armenians off the face of this planet.

      People are defined by their history. You cannot honestly expect Turks and Armenians to magically work together after the way Turks have treated us for all eternity.

      • Young generation said:

        George, and you are completely ignorant of the present situation in Turkey and Turks. Have you heard of Taner Akcam? Have you heard of Orhan Pamuk? Have you heard that beside the nationalists and islamists, there are many liberal and open minded Turks and the number of these people is growing? I guess not. So, please don’t essentialize anything: history, people, race, gender, whatever it is.

  6. Alex Postallian said:

    Logic (a misnomer) In logic, you have a minor premiss,a medium premiss,and a major premiss,then a conclusion——–turks are mongols,liars,cowards,soooo the major conclusion is ?????? non negotiable——-compish.

    • Young generation said:

      Sorry, but this is not the beginning of the 20th century, when you can label people, races, ethnic groups with single descriptive. I know many Turks, who are not liars, cowards and now many Armenians, who are liars and cowards…

  7. Anahid Keussdeyan said:

    Attention to Logic,

    If you had any sense and knowledge of history and the consequences of the Armenian Genocide/Holocaust on Armenians in general, if you had just a little sense of the psychological, economical, civic impact it had on the verabroghneroun – survivors, you were going to be more logical in your response, the same goes to the philosophy to prof. Libaridian.

    I do not belong to any kind of political, religious, social party or denomination. My religion, party and denomination is Armenian. Prof. Libaridian is WRONG. Of course it is possible to negotiate, discuss…..
    Not at this stage of political and economic atmosphere in the world.

    No wonder, Prof. Libaridian being the advisor of Levon Ter-petrosian created economical, political misguided atmosphere. Instead of concentrating on the pressing issues of the day.

    There is a very big difference of thought line between Soviet educated ‘professors’ and diaspora Armenians. Wake up Armenian Mart, first learn who you are, than take the pen to speculate about the situations.

  8. Alex Postallian said:

    Aside from the Genocide debate…How do I know the turks are GUILTY. BECAUSE IN HISTORY,THEY HAVE BEEN COWARDS,NEVER ATTACKING A EQUAL FORCE,ONLY UNARMED,WOMEN,CHILDREN,OLD PEOPLE,AFTER THEY CONFISCATED THEIR ARMS.IN WW1,THEY WERE BEATEN,ON TWO FRONTS,GROVELLED,ON THEIR KNEES,JOINED THE OPPOSING SIDE.THEY ARE RESPOSIBLE FOR THE PROBLEMS,IN THE MIDDLE EAST,FROM A DISTANCE,NO GUTS TO AFFRONT THE FRAY. SO I REPEAT,TO THOSE WHO HAVE HAD THEIR HEADS IN THE SAND,IN CAPITALIZATION,THEY ARE COWARDS..libardian is either feeble or mentally challenged,like his compatriots,the jerky turkey…..

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