18 January 2007

1370) The so-called Armenian Genocide: The prejudicial folly surrounding the issue.

According to Wikipedia, the 22 countries listed below officially recognise the so-called genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman State between 1915 and 1916. It should be noted that Wikipedia is not always a reliable source of information. For example, the author of the article on the so-called Armenian genocide is clearly biased; it cannot be described as an objective piece of writing; it only presents one side of the story. At no point in the article is the Turkish perspective presented; at no point in the article are there any references to, or citations of historians such as professor Justin McCarthy and professor Bernard Lewis both of whom dispute both the Armenian version of this episode in history and the claim of genocide.
This blog will present accounts of the aforementioned historians and other evidence that contradicts the Armenian claims.

No matter what version of history one happens to be reading, it should not be forgotten that there are other versions. Nor should we forget that historical accounts are re-constructions of past events based on evidence that is available at the time of writing. Worse still, no matter how objective scientists and historians might try to be, they are still influenced by their own preconceptions, prejudices and bias. However, some historians manage to be more objective than others and I dare say that historians McCarthy and Lewis are more objective than Armenian lobbyists and the politicians they so easily win over to their cause (there will be more on the prejudice of European politicians against the Turks further on in this article).

Like scientific facts, historical facts have the nasty habit of changing in the light of new evidence. Therefore historical facts are not facts as such but merely constructions. These are some of the problems of the methods of scientific and historical inquiry - to paraphrase A.F. Chalmers (What is this thing called science) there are no methods that can prove a theory (or construct) to be conclusively true. In the end, the best one can do is to consider all the available evidence with a critical eye and then make up one's own mind as to what makes the most sense whilst bearing in mind that the whole truth can never be known.

Fortunately, we do not have to rely solely on historical accounts to refute the Armenian claim of genocide. There are also legalistic considerations concerned with the definition of genocide - these will be addressed in Part 2.

Countries in which politicians have voted in favour of resolutions recognizing the so-called Armenian Genocide, after being lobbied by the Armenian diaspora, include:

According to the Geneva Convention, the United Nation, the International Criminal Court, and any individual with a sense of morality, genocide is a crime. The place to judge a person or a government for a crime is the court room - not the houses of parliament. And yet this is exactly how these countries have arrived at this decision. A motion is put forward by a politician and a vote is taken without due consideration of all the evidence to the contrary. This is absurd and makes a mockery of the principle of innocent until proven guilty. (As the comment by Anonymous [see comments] indicates there are no legal institutions that have a legislated right to take this issue to trial).

On this issue, Professor of History Justin McCarthy had this to say:

... politicians ... have a duty to truth. If they make pronouncements on history, they assume the duties of historians. They must look honestly at the historical record, the whole historical record. They must not accept that what they are told is true because political pressure groups tell them it is true. They must not accept that something is true because their fathers believed it was true. They must not accept as truth what their own prejudices tell them is true. If politicians speak on history, if politicians pass resolutions on history, then they must follow the rules of history. Otherwise, what the politicians proclaim will not be the truth. It may be good politics. It may win votes. But it will never be the truth http://www.tallarmeniantale.com/mccarthy-firstshot.htm

As McCarthy indicates, the decision of those who have pronounced Turkey guilty of genocide is a matter of prejudice and not truth. Prejudice against the Turks on the part of Christian countries has a long history that dates back at least to Attila the Hun (406 - 453). Christians referred to Attila as The Scourge of God and the Huns were thought of as the Hordes from Hell who had come to punish Christians for their sins. This fear and hatred of the Turkic world was exploited again by Pope Urban II prior to 1095 (the first Crusade) when he perceived an opportunity to gain control of the Holy Lands in the Middle East. Turks, who by then had become Moslems were demonised by the Catholic church and the Pope guaranteed a place in heaven for all those who would take up the Crusade and die killing Moslems (see the documentaries "The Crusades" produced by the BBC, and "The Crescent and the Cross" produced by the History Channel).

Besides all this, Armenia was the first Christian nation and many Armenians see themselves as the front line in a war against the Moslem world. It is also worth noting that with the exception of Lebanon, which by the way has a large Armenian community, all the countries listed above are Christian nations and that, to this day, there is much anti-Moslem, anti-Turkish feeling amongst their populations (go to http://istanbulian.blogspot.com/search/label/Politics for a few articles on this topic, also read Slavoj Zizek "The Disturbing Sounds of the Turkish March"). It is this kind of long-standing prejudicial folly that motivates the push by Armenian lobby groups all over the world to have Turkey charged with genocide. It is this kind of prejudicial folly that motivates politicians to vote in favour of accusing Turkey of genocide. It is not for politicians to make such decisions. Politicians are rarely objective on such issues and are more concerned with protecting their own interests through placating those who would vote for them.

Unfortunately the most appropriate institution, namely the International Criminal Court, cannot bring this issue to trial (see FAQ # 6) (I say unfortunately because I would much rather see this matter settled by a court of law than by Armenian lobby groups and their friends in politics). It must therefore be left to historians working in conjunction with legal experts to decide the matter. Part 2 on this issue is coming shortly and will address the legal definition of genocide in an attempt to establish whether or not what happened between 1914 and 1916 fits that definition.