Editorial: Say It Like You Mean It

Last week–we published the Armenian Assembly’s response to our March 25 editorial (see letter to the editor below)–in which we had asked "Why–on the eve of the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide–is the Armenian Assembly of America helping Turkey deny justice to the Armenian people?"

That question had arisen as a result of the Assembly’s continued use and dissemination of a study commissioned by the dubious Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission and supported by the Assembly and the pro-Turkish US State Department. That study had confirmed–as countless others have–and as our editorial–in fairness–quoted verbatim–that the Armenian Genocide was in fact genocide; however–the study also concluded that "no legal–financial or territorial claim arising out of the Events could successfully be made against any individual or state under the Convention [on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide]."

The Assembly’s response did not answer our question regarding the Assembly’s role in facilitating a "resolution" to the Armenian Question that would benefit joint US/Turkish interests in that part of the world (to put our question in less unpleasant terms). The Assembly’s response merely attempted–through verbal gymnastics–to deflect that question. But in doing so–it provided a glimpse into the Assembly’s actual–though unstated–position on the subject.

The first three of the four longish paragraphs of the Assembly’s response are devoted to convincing readers that there was nothing wrong with using the TARC-sponsored study–because–after all–it was done for the sake of getting Congress to recognize the Genocide–and surely that can’t be "fairly portrayed as ‘denying justice to the Armenian people’."

That sure sounds like a good response; unfortunately–it doesn’t directly deal with the question we asked. We were talking about the consequences and significance of using the TARC study as a means or tactic; we weren’t questioning the Assembly’s stated purpose for using those means–in fact–we called it "otherwise praiseworthy."

In other words–we were saying the end doesn’t justify the means–especially if those means undermine the ultimate purpose; moreover–we were highlighting that the means you use says a lot about who you are–what you believe–and what you’re willing or capable of doing.

Let’s put it this way: The TARC study "gives" Armenia’s something of little value–and it tries to take away from Armenia’s (and give to Turkey) something of great value. What it gives (Genocide recognition)–countless other studies have already given–so it’s not worth that much. What it takes away from Armenia’s (legal–financial–and territorial reparations)–no other study has given away–and it’s too high a price to pay. So–if the Assembly insists on using and talking up a study that gives away something so valuable–when it doesn’t have to–why blame people for thinking that the Assembly too is willing to give away legal–financial–and territorial reparations in return for recognition? Otherwise–why use those means/that report? Why take the chance? Why give ammunition to the enemy? Why undermine your own position? All of which add up to the big why–"why–on the eve of the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide–is the Armenian Assembly of America helping Turkey deny justice to the Armenian people?"

It’s pretty much that simple. All the Assembly’s assertions to the contrary are mere words; but its persistent actions–among others–the continued use and hyping of that study–say and count more than any lip service about seeking "official–full and irrevocable US reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide," which the Assembly apparently equates with "justice to the Armenian people."

For the ARF–justice for the Armenian people is precisely "legal–financial–and territorial reparation." Perhaps it’s time for the Assembly to state unambiguously its position–for all Armenia’s–and all others–to know.

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PS: The fourth–final paragraph of the Assembly’s response claims that the TARC study’s findings don’t "let Turkey completely off the hook," because the study "does not purport to address the applicability of the Genocide Convention to the Events of–or the rights or responsibilities of concerned individuals or entities under–any other rubric of international law or the laws of any other nation."

Inevitably–we are left to conclude that the Assembly is admitting that the TARC study at least partially lets Turkey off the hook. (So–even then–why use that study?)

Or one might conclude that the Assembly’s invocation of such legalese cant is the equivalent of a self-appointed middleman’s attempt to convince a murder victim’s family that a plea bargain may not be such a bad idea: "They’ve concluded that the murderer can’t be charged for first degree murder–but maybe he can be charged for manslaughter or criminal trespass–or maybe you can initiate a civil suit–or see if a court in a nearby county might be able to exercise jurisdiction…" Talk about low.

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