Talking Turkey

By Garen Yegparian

Has anybody been reading the LA Times lately? Oh–let’s say the last six months. Now compare that with the preceding six years. You’ll notice a large increase in Turkey coverage. Not just news–but op-ed pieces too.

The reporter doing much of the writing–Amberin Zaman–is probably a Turk judging by the name and datelines–usually Ankara. Obviously no bias involved?

We’re treated to gems such as "Hitler Finds an Audience in Turkey" (March 16)–"EU Officials Assail Turkey for Treatment of Prisoners" (March 8)–"Turkish Leader Calls for Study of Genocide Debate" (March 9)–and "A Turk Traces Her Armenian Roots" (April 17) that purport to convey a sense of what’s brewing in the country. This serves to give the reader a sense that the reporter and newspaper are not trying to paint a rosy picture of a messed-up country. But more insidiously–it creates a familiarity that breeds comfort with the ill-disguised tyranny that is Turkey. This comfort makes it easier for people to tolerate the horrors emanating from there.

Interestingly–in this context–Fethiye Chetin’s tale of discovering her roots–an Armenian grandmother–becomes devalued. In fact–it is already being misrepresented on Iranian radio–broadcast worldwide–by a talk show host whose roots may be Turkic. This must be addressed–and fast.

Now add to this the election (very possibly rigged) of a ‘pro-unity’ Turkish-Cypriot president. Of course–we mustn’t forget "Don’t Write Off the Turks" by that old hand at Turkophilia–Graham Fuller–who–besides his current LA Times biography–used to work at the Rand Corporation. Then consider the replies to news pieces that inevitably do get published on the letters page from Turkey’s Consul General in Los Angeles (currently Engin Ansay) or the self-anointed "Ambassador of Turkey at Large" Ergun Kirlikovali. If memory serves me–this is the guy who made an utter fool of himself before the California legislature when he testified in the late 1980s against the inclusion of the Armenian genocide in the state’s educational curriculum. When was the last time an Armenians letter was run prior to the response to Fuller? I think it was one of mine about a year ago.

The icing and sprinkles and cream and other prettying agents–of course–is the reactivation of TARC forces. These–with their allies–Armenian–Turkish–American–or other–are the formal propaganda front.

All the attention lavished on Turkey by the LA Times can’t be accidental. Though I don’t contend they have an intentional bias–I do suspect stepped-up efforts from the State Department (hence the TARC tie-in) to portray Turkey in a generally favorable–familiar light. The paper is simply responding to what seems like (and partially IS) greater activity. Heck–they may even think they’re serving their large Armenian readership’s interest in Turkey.

But why then so little about Armenia? Why does all this intensity–in the weeks before Genocide commemorations–take its annual toll on Turkey’s gilded image as the West’s (or at least America’s) outpost in the Islamic world? Why is all this happening as Turkey’s drive to join the European Union is ratcheted up by Turkey and the US?

The very ploy referred to in one of the pieces listed above–Prime Minister Erdogan’s proposal to "study" the Genocide "debate"–speaks unsquelchable volumes. Fortunately–Armenia has rejected that ridiculous proposal. Now it’s our turn to remove the whitewash that continues to be applied to Turkey’s thin veneer of civilization. If the US and Turkey–along with some tragically misguided elemen’s in Europe–succeed and Turkey is passed off as a respectable state–then not only our rights–but soon our very lives as Armenia’s will be run over roughshod by today’s Turkish government and military–as done for centuries by their predecessors.

Let’s get out there and show our zero tolerance for genocidal states. Let’s have massive attendance at all our rallies–demonstrations–and other gatherings this year.

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