21 November 2006

1246) An open letter to Nancy Pelosi

 © http://www.tldm.org Dear Ms. Pelosi,

In Turkey, Madame Speaker-elect, your reputation has even exceeded that of your president, George W. Bush. Not a day passes without one being forced to read another news story relating your views on this country. Please pardon me for saying so, but you have already become an ogre figure used by Turkish mothers to frighten naughty kids. . .

The reason for your ever-increasing presence here is, of course, your pledge to support Armenian "genocide" legislation during the 110th session of U.S. Congress next year.

Our Armenian friends have described this resolution that you are so keen on as a symbolic gesture for delayed justice and appreciate your support. My compatriots, in turn, believe that it is a show of political opportunism aimed at winning Armenian votes in California's Bay Area, your home district. I believe neither of these. You can't be that narrow minded or populist and nor should justice be exploited, which only leads to further injustices.

I can fully understand the motivation behind your zealous attempts for the recognition of the so-called Armenian genocide. Yes, I am in heartfelt agreement with you. Ignoring the lessons of a genocide indeed means being "destined to continue our stumbling through the long, dark tunnel of endless ethnic cleansings, genocides and holocausts." Yes, "we must learn from the past" and "the horrible conflicts in Sudan, Sierra Leone and East Timor remind us that we must do more to prevent the systematic slaughter of innocent people." However, I humbly feel compelled to remind you that we must first grasp what really happened in the past.

Please forgive this illiterate mortal's temerity to offer criticism, but your knowledge of history, Turkish-Armenian relations in particular, is unfortunately very narrow. Otherwise, you wouldn't have fallen into the trap of claiming on the House floor in April 1998 that "over the course of the next eight years [subsequent to the April 24, 1915 decision for deportation] the Turkish government systematically murdered 1.5 million Armenians and deported 500,000." This is simply an obvious distortion of the facts! Also, you may have missed the point, but the West's treatment of the Kemalist republic's role in the so-called Armenian genocide is not only political but also inconsistent and hypocritical. It comes down to how the West wants to perceive Turkey in a given situation. In cases when it suits for the country to be portrayed as an outsider, yes, the Kemalist republic is equally guilty … But if it is needed as an "ally," then it was the Ottoman Empire that "committed that horrific crime against humanity" and modern Turks cannot be held responsible. Reconciliation with the past, nevertheless, is essential …

I won't waste your valuable time with more historical details. I also don't believe it would achieve anything. You have enjoyed warm relations with the Bay Area Armenian National Committee since your election to the House of Representatives in 1986. You are obviously a firm believer in the Armenian version of history. As I say so often, if someone has already invented the truth, why bother with history?

Instead, please allow this poor individual, who, in your view, is in a state of denial, to pose a very naive question. So far, you must have spoken with thousands of Armenians who told you about the horrors of those days. Have you ever deigned, in turn, to listen to a single Turk? The collective memory of the Turks is also full of Armenian atrocities. Let's assume, as many people in the West do, that Turks are nothing more than deniers and have been brainwashed by the propaganda machines of the ultranationalist Kemalist regime in Turkey. But what about those Turks who were eyewitnesses to these events? If you are sincerely interested in the other side of the story, of a time marked by Turkish tragedies, I can send you a list of elderly people from eastern Anatolia who will explain, with tears in their eyes as our dear Armenian friends are doing, what they lived through. If you are so enthusiastic about arriving at absolute conclusions, ethics expects you to be consistent and careful. Otherwise, your noble decision is destined to become mere prejudice.

Given this backdrop, do you really naively think that your resolution will help both sides establish an environment of peace and stability? While there is an urgent need for empathy, won't such resolutions justify respective standpoints, further closing doors to dialogue?

To be honest, I'm not really interested in whether you pass this resolution or not. Like many people in Turkey, I am though fed up with the way this genocide issue is being used as an effective means of blackmailing the Turkish government. A short while ago, for instance, a senior diplomat in the Bush administration was even reported to have brandished the "genocide stick" in regards to Turkey's relations with Russia. The sincere reason that I wrote this letter is because I am worried about the future of the Turkish-American relationship. At a time when bilateral relations are so fragile I am afraid that it could become the fatal blow. Don't worry; I won't underline Turkey's strategic importance, which indeed is not a "license to kill." But I must remind you that parliaments and invented truths do not give someone the license to brand others as having grave moral flaws either.

That being said, I would like to congratulate you on becoming the first female House speaker in U.S. history.

Sincerely yours,

A humble denier from Turkey

Cem Oguz
21 November 2006
The New Anatolian


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