19 October 2006

1144) "Censorados" Are Learning The Law

I have a new word for those Armenian lobbyists and their fellow Turk-haters who desperately advocate censoring of Turkish views: they are “censor-ados”, that is “censor” peddling “desperados”. These censorados conspired recently in Boston to remove all arguments and evidence that demolish their genocide allegations. These censorados infiltrated our education system and now want only their baseless claims to be taught to our children in K-12 as settled history. Some visionary American teachers and students sued the State of Massachusetts for violating their rights to freedom of speech which includes freedom to hear all sides of an issue before coming to conclusion. . .

I was delighted to learn that the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), a non-profit, umbrella organization representing half a million Turkish-Americans through 57 Turkish-American associations coast to coast, had joined in as so-plaintiff. What followed inspired me to create the term “censorados” and this press release by ATAA explains it all quite clearly:

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Below, please find the latest press release by the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), home of 62 Turkish American Associations across U.S., Canada and Turkey, dated October 17, 2006, penned by Bruce Fein. For more news and updates please visit: http://www.ataa.org. To receive more news, send your name and address to assembly@ataa.org. ATAA: 1526 18th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20036 , Phone: (202) 483-9090 ; Fax: (202) 483-9092.

ATAA APPEARS IN COURT TO PROTECT SPEECH ON TURKISH-ARMENIAN TRAGEDY

In 2005, the ATAA, joined by several non-Turkish American students, parents and teachers, filed suit in Massachusetts federal district court against the Board of Education of Massachusetts and the Commissioner of Education. In the case of Griswold v. Massachusetts, the plaintiffs allege that a Massachusetts law orchestrated by Armenian American state legislators and implemented by the Board and Commissioner violated the First Amendment by requiring the removal from a state curriculum guide of educationally suitable materials, including the ATAA’s website, that dispute the Armenian allegation of genocide. The complaint alleges that the Armenian lobby, rather than sound educational criteria, motivated the removals. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss, which was joined by several amici briefs by pro-Armenian NGOs.

On September 18, civil rights lawyers for ATAA and the other plaintiffs appeared for oral argument to oppose the motion to dismiss. US District Judge Mark L. Wolf also heard oral arguments from state lawyers who maintained that the state’s position should be questioned. In an earlier stage of the case, ATAA successfully opposed the intervention of the amici NGOs as additional defendants, arguing that a person does not have a right to be sued, that this was not a Turkish – Armenian fight – but a fight to protect freedom of speech for all. ATAA, however, did not oppose the participation of the NGOs in oral argument, as ATAA believes in the freedom of speech. Judge Wolf, nevertheless, limited the total participation of the five NGOs to 10 minutes of the four-hour hearing, signaling that what was at issue was not whether the Armenian case constitutes genocide, but whether scholarly evidence that the case does not constitute genocide was unconstitutionally censored.

The Boston Globe, September 19, 2006, stated that the issue before the court is “whether a state curriculum guide should include materials arguing that the deaths and dislocations of at least 1 million Armenians in the World War I era do not constitute genocide.” The Boston Globe reported that the “materials had been removed from the guide” and that “students, teachers and Turkish advocates sued for their reinstatement.”

Since filing the ATAA’s complaint, a federal district court in Florida held in a similar case that Miami officials violated the First Amendment by ordering the removal of books about Cuba that they believed were too favorable to Fidel Castro. The decisions of the United States Supreme Court also support ATAA’s complaint. They make clear that bona fide non-classroom materials may not be removed from school libraries or other auxiliary educational aids because public officials dislike the ideas they express. The case is exceptionally important to the Turkish American community because it rests on free speech principles that transcend the asserted claim of genocide (and avoids the appearance of an ethnic or religious vendetta) and would set a precedent that would carry over into other states such as California. Several states have attempted to skew public debate and education about the Armenian allegation of genocide through legislation or executive decrees. See, “The Armenian Cause, Today,” The Turkish American, Vol. 2 No. 8 Summer 2005, at http://www.ataa.org/magazine/armenian_cause.pdf. It is hoped that a positive result in the pending lawsuit will indicate to legislators that single-sided interpretations of history deprive Americans of fundamental rights.

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For more than 90 years, the Armenian lobbyists and their fellow Turk-haters told the unsuspecting public that the Turkish-Armenian conflict during the World War I amounted to genocide. Never mind that the term genocide required a verdict by a competent tribunal after due process ( a la Nuremberg) which did not exist. Never mind that the three separate court proceedings that exist in this area tend to refute the Armenian claims, more than anything:

1- Ottoman courts martial of 1915-16 which tried some of its own who violated the word and spirit of the “temporary settlement orders”, proving that those orders were strictly for what they literally said, temporary resettlement of the treasonous Ottoman-Armenians, and not for extermination of all Ottoman-Armenians, as claimed.

2- Kangaroo courts of occupied Istanbul during 1919-1920 where the charges were more political and personal in nature, as in settling scores among rivals, than legal or humanitarian, and where the defendants were not even given the chance to cross-examine evidence which mostly was comprised of hearsay and propaganda anyway (even newspaper clips were introduced an readily accepted into evidence.) To make matters worse, these court documents do not exist today, save some of their “reproductions” in Ottoman and Armenian newspapers of “defeated and occupied Istanbul.” The British were so embarrassed by all this that Royal courts were asked to step in, which brings us to the next item:

3- The Malta Tribunals of 1919-1921 by the British that never got started due to lack of “court admissible evidence.” Please note that the Brits wrote the blue book of wartime propaganda which tried and convicted the Turks many times over; but when the time came to try the Turks, the Brits would not use their own book! So much for credence of that book… Then, of course, the Armenians were never short of “smoking guns” proving genocide because when the Armenians could not find the evidence needed at court proceedings, they simply fabricated them… Andonian, the Houdini of Ottoman archives, would pull out whatever was needed from his hat: Talat telegrams, Naim Bey’s memoirs, whatever… The only problem is, they did not exist… His book was also not used as evidence by the Brits just like the Armenian Church documents and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation of Hunchak documents… So much for Armenian credibility!

These three court proceedings clearly show that the Armenian lobbyists and their fellow Turk-haters do not have a leg to stand on when it comes to substantiating their genocide claims with “court admissible evidence”. That is why more than 127 American and Turkish NGOs recently urged the leadership of Armenia to sue Turkey in the Hague, the Netherlands, the seat of the International Court of Justice. Not a peep out of Armenia or Diaspora or other “Censorados.”

These three court proceedings are also at least partially why the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan invited Armenia’s leadership to create a joint committee of Turkish and Armenian historians, open the national archives of both countries (hopefully also those of the ARF in Boston and Armenian Church in Jerusalem, Erivan, Istanbul, and elsewhere) to study what really happened during 1914-1921 (better if during 1878-1921 , best if during 1828-1921.) Again, not a peep our of Armenia, Diaspora, or the rest of “censorados.”

A couple of years ago, another experiment at dialogue, this time between the Turkish, Armenian, and other scholars in Vienna, Austria, ended up with a “flop-flop… fizz-fizz… Oh what a relief it is!” This dialoged was based on exchange of 100 documents selected by each side making their case. Then there would be a period of study and reflection. After that, phase two would kick in where the sides would introduce another set of 80 documents each as rebuttals to the first set of 100 documents. The plan was to stop all exchange of documents at this point and focus debate on these 180 documents selected by each side. What happened, you ask? Well, the first phase proceeded without a snag. But when the Armenian scholars saw the formidable array of documents submitted by the Turkish side, they decided to drop out of the dialogue altogether. That is, although the Turkish side was ready to introduce the next set of 80 documents, with plenty more to spare where they came from, the Armenian scholars refused to continue. (Epilogue: The Turkish side is considering publishing the submittals if all parties can come to an agreement. If not, the Turkish side might go ahead and publish only the Turkish documents.)

As you can see, “censorados” don’t want a “dialogue” to sort out history; they want a “monologue” where only their claims are heard and treated at face value. This might be fine at a private club where members pay to hear what they like; but it is terribly wrong if my children are forced to hear the Armenian claims without rebuttals. It is even worse if all children are forced to hear a certain partisan account of history with all other views censored. Hitler’s Nazis tried that… Soviet Russia tried that… Taliban’s Afghanistan tried that… Other tried that… None of them worked…

Pressed by this lawsuit, the “censorados” are now busy learning the law. They are learning the gigantic difference between “allegations” and “facts”. They are also learning that freedom of speech is not an optional right, practiced with permission from the likes of “censorados.”

If we in America cherish values like fairness, honesty, and truth, and if we believe in freedom of speech, then the “censorados” must not be allowed to win in American education system.

It is my firm belief that the Massachusetts “censorados” will lose their court battle first… Then it is onto to California’s “censorados”… Then to others…

I congratulate ATAA and other plaintiffs, therefore, for showing courage and vision to start this momentous court battle and ask all who believe in fairness, honesty, and truth to support ATAA and other plaintiffs.

So that we can all shout one day at the top of our lungs: “Adios, Censorados !..”

Ergun KIRLIKOVALI ergun@turkla.com

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