UC Davis Part Deux: The Truth Strikes Back

BY SKEPTIK SINIKIAN

truth (trth) n. Conformity to fact or actuality. A statement proven to be or accepted as true.

Let’s get right to the point. A few weeks ago–I wrote about the University of California at Davis inviting two infamous Armenian Genocide deniers to campus for lectures on Turkish politics and the Cyprus situation. The first professor–(I cringe to use the term "professor" to describe him)–Heath Lowry of Princeton University–cancelled his speaking engagement at the University for unknown reasons. Sources have told me that he reportedly fell ill. The second professor–Norman Izkowitz–also of Princeton fame–is still scheduled to speak on Tuesday–May 18–2004.

In the column where I detailed Heath Lowry’s record of Genocide denial–I only briefly addressed his nefarious shadow–Izkowitz. Well–since UC Davis can’t take a hint–and neither can Izkie–I have been left with no other option but to dedicate this week’s column to a man who thinks that Armenia’s deserved to be massacred by the Turkish authorities. Make sure you’re sitting down because what’s about to follow will make your head spin.

During a conference in November of 1997–Izkie participated in a panel discussion entitled Healing Past Wounds: From Conflict to Cooperation. During his remarks he addressed the Armenian Genocide and I’ve included the transcript of his commen’s below. For anyone who is questioning the authenticity of the idiocy that follows–please visit http://users.ids.net/~gregan/itzkowitz.html where you can download audio recordings of this statement the text of his statemen’s.

Izkowitz: When I was the Master at Wilson College here I had a student–an Armenian–who? ?asked me over many–many times how could I teach the history that I teach. I teach the history of the Turks ? Didn’t I know what the Turks had done to his people?

After two years I asked him to come to my office ? and I asked him–"Where do you get this from? What have you read?" And he stopped and he said–"I haven’t read anything." I said–"Where did you get it from?" He said–"I get it from my grandmother." I said–"Well that’s typical. Your mother and father are out working to make enough money to send you to Princeton and granny’s got nothing to do but sit at home and fill you full of this stuff." [ laughter from the audience ]

And I gave him a long list of books. I said "read them and come back." Well he never came back. And the reason is that all of this ethnic conflict business–I think we have to understand–at the bottom is irrational. It has nothing to do with rationality. They don’t want to know anything and they will not take the time to inform themselves about what’s going on.

Where to begin? I’m not going to dissect the above commen’s in great detail because it’s beneath me. However–I have to say that the ignorance of the above statemen’s makes a Bush speech sound like the Gettysburg Address. Izkie’s recital of a fictitious anecdote is based in as much reality and truth as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s testimony in front of Congress. Izkie’s condescending tone and blatant ignorance make me wonder how he is regarded an expert on anything. So why hasn’t the University cancelled the visit by this poor excuse for an academic? Well–let’s look at the generic response sent to some of our readers when they responded to our call to action last month. Bare with me–I think it’s important that you–Hovannes Q. Public-ian–receive the full story.

Dear [Hovannes Q Public-ian]:

Chancellor Vanderhoef asked me to respond to your recent communication where you expressed concerns regarding two scheduled lectures sponsored by our UC Davis Institute for Governmental Affairs.

The Chancellor and I respect and appreciate your strong feelings regarding the presentations by Drs. Norman Itzkowitz and Heath W. Lowry. Since the issues surrounding the part of the world they will be discussing are controversial as well as contemporary–we understand the feelings–indeed the passions–which can accompany such lectures. At the same time–we respectfully ask you to consider our strong–historic campus tradition of free and open speech and communication in general–and our respect for our campus communities inviting a diverse group of speakers to our campus.

In the long run–the lack of censorship on the part of the administration and the upholding of the academic tradition of free speech will serve us all well in guaranteeing the hearing of all points of view on controversial topics. I hope you will understand our position and our upholding of these principles.

Sincerely,

Barry M. Klein–Ph.D.

Vice Chancellor for Research

It’s a shame that Chancellor Vanderhoef didn’t have the time to personally respond to all of the calls–faxes–and emails he received from angry citizens and tax payers over the course of the last month. But maybe he was too busy inviting Ku Klux Klan poster boy David Duke to UC Davis to speak about the history of the Confederate States or maybe he’s trying to track down Nazi sympathizers to talk about the current history of Germany. And all in the name of?what was the term used again? Oh yeah–"strong–historic campus tradition of free and open speech and communication in general."

I’m sure Dr. Klein is a smart guy. His PhD is probably in something very important and esoteric. But the excuse of inviting Turkish apologists to a publicly funded state campus based on free speech is ridiculous. Universities have been places where different ideas have been freely exchanged but the historical truth is the historical truth. Otherwise–you can teach whatever you want and have it protected under UC Davis’s so-called principles.

The 18th century British poet and artist William Blake once remarked–"When I tell the truth–it is not for the sake of convincing those who do not know it–but for the sake of defending those that do." In the spirit of these poignant words–I’m going to ask everyone reading this article to join me in one final push against the University’s administration and sound our protest loud and clear. Take a few minutes to call the University–not because some guest columnist in Asbarez asked you to–but because if we don’t do it–then no one will. If the well-informed activists don’t take a stand–then we leave the door open for other deniers to come to California and besmirch the memory of the millions of Greeks–Armenia’s–Assyrians and others who were massacred by the Turkish Government and who are still harassed today.

You see–denial is like that mold that grows in your bathtub. If you don’t scrub it clean when you first see it–if you assume that your roommate will clean it up for you–if you tell yourself that it isn’t mold–then it will grow until the bathtub is so filthy that you won’t want to use the bathroom anymore and the filth takes over.

Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to call Dr. Klein and let him know that we’re not satisfied with the "free speech" excuse. We’re going to call and be such a nuisance that they’ll never want to have anything to do with another Genocide denier ever again. After you’re done reading this rant–pick up the phone or open your email box and give UC Davis a piece of your mind. Here’s the contact info for Dr. Barry M. Klein–Ph.D. Vice Chancellor for Research: Phone (530) 752-4091; FAX (530) 754-2100; E-Mail bmklein@ucdavis.edu. Until next week–keep fighting–and never back down.

Skeptik Sinikian enjoys reading–writing letters to University Chancellors–and exposing Turkish revisionist lies and the lying liars who tell them. He can be reached at SkeptikSinikian@aol.com.

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