Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Genocide in Turkey

As noted by Daniel Larison, tomorrow marks the 92nd anniversary of the Turkish genocide against the Armenian people. The goal was clearly the obliteration of the Christian Armenians, textbook genocide. The best estimates are that about a million people died. A fervent form of "Holocaust denial" became entrenched among the Turkish authorities, through the present day. As Larison notes "denialism and Turkish republicanism have unfortunately combined; the hyper-nationalists today are only the most obnoxious of the denialists." In Turkey today, it remains a crime to simply state the historical facts and to even mention the word "genocide". The criminal code forbids "insulting Turkishness." Recently, Hrant Dink, an Armenian Turk, after criticizing Turkey's genocide denial, was prosecuted three times, and eventually assassinated by nationalists.

Now, right-wing culture warriors today will look at this story and paint a stark picture of Islamic aggression against a small helpless Christian community. But this is not accurate. The Armenians lived for centuries under the Ottomans. They may have suffered discrimination and a lack of true religious freedom, but they lived unmolested. No, it was secular nationalism that killed them, the pseudo-religion that exalts the Turkish nation. After all, it was on suspicion of aiding the enemy during the first world war (the Russians) that provoked the massacres. And it is that form of nationalism, dressed in patriotic garb, that can be truly chilling.

4 comments:

Franklin Jennings said...

You'd blame the nationalism rather than the secularism?

Can't say I am shocked.

Of course, there was no nationalism to be found in Soviet Communism, and yet the various slaughters there were so much worse than Turkey, Germany and Kampuchea combined.

But they were secularists.

Morning's Minion said...

Nationalism, Communinism... all secular psuedo-religions, suffering the same weaknesses.

Franklin Jennings said...

So you concede my point? Good.

Lorenzo said...

The Armenians lived for centuries under the Ottomans. They may have suffered discrimination and a lack of true religious freedom, but they lived unmolested.
That is too simplistic. The Ottoman regime had massacred Armenians well before the Young Turks took power.

The suggestion that Muslim sentiment had no role in the massacre is too simple. Yes, Enver Pasha and co. were secular nationalists, but they were a thin layer on top. That Armenians, as unbelievers, were inferior was part of Islam and provided a base for the Young Turks to work with.