Most reporters and other journalists in the mass media
failed to do due diligence and misled their audiences regarding last month�s US
House Foreign Affairs Committee vote in favor of Resolution 252, which would
reaffirm the Armenian genocide of 1915-1923.
Nearly all media, prior to and after the vote, falsely said
or implied that the House and the Federal government had never before recognized
the Armenian genocide.
The full House, in fact, passed resolutions in 1975 and 1984
that acknowledged the Armenian genocide as �genocide.� Proclamation 4838 by
President Reagan in 1981 also affirmed the veracity of the genocide. In 1996,
the House limited economic aid to Turkey until it recognized the genocide.
In a brief filed with the International Court of Justice
(World Court) at The Hague in 1951, the US government cited just two genocides
in modern times: the one committed by Turkey against Armenians and that
committed by Nazi Germany.
Even when told of these earlier Armenian genocide
acknowledgments, few media reported them. Significantly, after each such
genocide reaffirmation, Ankara�s threats of retaliation against Washington
amounted to nothing and were quickly forgotten. No reporter, it appears, has
ever bothered to mention this fact.
For Turkey to complain obsessively about the House
committee�s vote reaffirming the Armenian genocide makes little sense
considering that the US has already recognized that genocide at least five
times. Incredibly, it appears that no mainstream journalist has ever asked
Turkish leaders for an explanation, not that they could provide a coherent one.
At the same time, the media obligingly volunteered their
ideas about how Turkey could (or is it should?) retaliate, such as shutting
down a NATO airbase or preventing American troops exiting Iraq to transit
Turkey. Nonsensically, journalists implicitly portrayed America as having no
leverage against Turkey and as being at its mercy.
Just the opposite is true. Ankara depends heavily on
Washington for advanced weaponry, investments and economic aid by US-backed
institutions such as the World Bank and IMF, political support to join the
European Union, and more.
Following the recent House committee vote, former British
ambassador to Armenia David Miller accurately observed that Turkey, like a
�bully,� will �bluster [and] threaten and in the end nothing will happen.�
Nearly all media also �forgot� to mention that Turkey�s
threats had fallen flat against the nearly twenty countries whose legislative
bodies had already acknowledged the Armenian genocide. Indeed, insofar as is
known, Turkey�s trade with such countries went up substantially, not down,
after genocide recognition.
Among the many genocide acknowledgers that the media nearly
always �forget� to mention are Canada, France, Lebanon, Switzerland, and
Uruguay, as well as a UN sub-commission, World Council of Churches, the
Vatican, and the European Union Parliament.
Most reporters have also long preferred to depict the
genocide issue as a mere he-said-she-said quarrel between Armenians and Turkey.
Yet the International Association of Genocide Scholars, the foremost
organization of its kind, has recognized the Armenian genocide several times
and roundly criticized Turkey. Raphael Lemkin, the Polish Jewish scholar who
authored the UN Genocide Convention of 1948 and who coined the word genocide,
once declared on national television, �I became interested in genocide because
it happened to the Armenians.� Most journalists choose to �forget� these facts.
Media also dutifully reported Turkey�s opinion that
academia, not the US Congress, is the proper place to discuss and recognize
genocides. They �forgot� that one or both houses of Congress have recognized
the Holocaust, and the Bosnian, Cambodian, Darfurian, and Ukrainian
�genocides.� Thus, the public is unfairly led to believe that Armenian
Americans are asking Congress to do something unusual. Somehow, the media also
�forgot� to report that over 50 American human rights, ethnic, and religious
organizations support Congressional acknowledgment of the Armenian genocide.
In short, most mass media have done an abysmal,
If the House, a US president, and a federal filing with the
World Court have already affirmed and reaffirmed the Armenian genocide, does
Congress really need to pass the present genocide resolution? The current
resolution, which is non-binding, describes the genocide�s history and
America�s traditional support of Armenia in more detail than previously
Congressional reaffirmation will help to counter Turkey�s
unending, immoral denial campaigns and send a necessary signal to the US State
Department that genocide denial harms American interests in the region.
For two decades, stability in the oil and gas-rich Caucasus/Caspian
region -- undoubtedly the major flashpoint between the US and Russia -- has
been one of Washington�s most cherished goals.
Stability is impossible, however, as long as Turkey refuses
to face up to its crimes against Armenians and continues to needlessly blockade
Armenia. Turkey, 25 times larger and more populous than Armenia and with 50
times the GDP, truly is a �bully.�
The US and other countries recently forced a set of
�protocols� onto Armenia that would allegedly �reconcile� it and Turkey. Contrary
to Turkish claims, Armenia quite rightfully maintains that it will not let the
protocols� proposed joint Turkish-Armenian historical commission question the
veracity of the genocide. The genocide issue cannot be wished away by sham
US-backed protocols, which, in any case, Turkey presently refuses to ratify.
Without an unequivocal acknowledgment by Turkey of its
hyper-violence against Armenians, the region cannot be stabilized -- with
serious geopolitical consequences for Washington and its allies.
The media, and the Obama administration, can help to avert
this simply by telling the American people the truth about the Armenian
genocide. The whole truth.
David Boyajian is an Armenian American freelance