CNN REPORT INCORRECTLY CHARACTERIZES ARMENIAN TRAGEDY
CNN REPORT INCORRECTLY CHARACTERIZES ARMENIAN TRAGEDY
IMMEDIATE CORRECTION REQUIRED
Dear Turkish Americans and Supporters of U.S.-Turkish Relations. CNN will be broadcasting a program titled, "Scream Bloody Murder" on December 4, 2008, regarding genocides in the 20th century. Though CNN's program advertisement does not list the Armenian case, we have learned that a small segment will discuss the events of 1915 in Ottoman Anatolia as a case of genocide.
TurkishPAC encourages all Turkish Americans to write to CNN. The documentary program and reporter Ms. Christiane Amanpour's recent statements in The Armenian Reporter (November 29), that the events of 1915 constitute the crime of genocide, prejudices inquiry into this genuine historic and legal controversy by proclaiming a verdict when in fact the evidence has never been tested by a proper neutral arbiter. In applying the term genocide and associating the Turkish and Armenian tragedies during Word War I with later crimes against humanity, Amanpour enflames hatred against Turkish people and Muslims, while ignoring the current research that is piecing together a historical narrative that is revealing that Ottoman Armenians engaged in a bloody revolt and that multitudes of Ottoman Muslims perished from causes nearly identical to those which took the lives of so many Armenians. Please see below for a sample letter/email text.
Please write to:
Thank you for defending the dignity of your heritage, future of your children, and freedom of speech for the contra-genocide perspective, and freedom from anti-Turkish and anti-Muslim hatred,
I have learned that CNN will broadcast a two-hour report titled "Scream Bloody Murder" on December 4, 2008, which will apparently include a short segment that will refer to the tragic events of 1915 in Ottoman Anatolia as a case of genocide.
According to the November 29 edition of the Armenian Reporter, Ms. Amanpour stated that this historic and legal controversy should not be termed anything but "genocide". Ms. Amanpour is quoted as stating, "Turkey still denies it officially is a problem. ... The Armenian Genocide infers to the words of Raphael Lemkin and that was incredibly important for us to highlight that."
One should refrain from confidently declaring the Armenian case genocide not only because the matter has never been considered by a proper neutral tribunal, but also because of the ample evidence that the case, even among historians, is not settled. Indeed, many scholars who are expert in Ottoman history and have conducted research among the primary documents in their original languages find the genocide label inappropriate. These scholars, taking pains not to minimize the suffering of the innocent masses, Christian and Muslim alike, during the war, have espoused the contra-genocide viewpoint: Bernard Lewis of Princeton University, the late Stanford Shaw of U.C.L.A., Justin McCarthy of the University of Louisville, Norman Itzkowitz of Princeton University, Brian G. Williams of the University of Massachusetts, David Fromkin of Boston University, Avigdor Levy of Brandeis University, Michael M. Gunter of Tennessee Tech, Pierre Oberling of Hunter College, the late Roderic Davison of George Washington University, Michael Radu of Foreign Policy Research Institute, and military historian Edward J. Erickson. Outside of the United States yet more scholars have found the genocide term unsuitable, among them Gilles Veinstein of the College de France, Stefano Trinchese of the University of Chieti, Jeremy Salt of Melbourne University Augusto Sinagra of the University of Romae-Sapienza, Norman Stone of Bilkent University, and the historian Andrew Mango of the University of London.
As noted by Princeton's Bernard Lewis:
[T]hat the massacre of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire was the same as what happened to Jews in Nazi Germany is a downright falsehood. What happened to the Armenians was the result of a massive Armenian armed rebellion against the Turks, which began even before war broke out, and continued on a larger scale.
But to make this a parallel with the Holocaust in Germany, you would have to assume the Jews of Germany had been engaged in an armed rebellion against the German state, collaborating with the allies against Germany. That in the deportation order, the cities of Hamburg and Berlin were exempted, persons in the employment of the state were exempted, and the deportation only applied to the Jews of Germany proper, so that when they got to Poland they were welcomed and sheltered by the Polish Jews. This seems to me a rather absurd parallel". 
Furthermore, Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term genocide, obtained his perspective on the Armenian issue by following the trial of Soghomon Tehlirian, chief assassin of the Nemesis Armenian Terror organization who felt justified in committing vigilante murders of Ottoman officials on the pretext of the failed Armenian revolt and the subsequent Ottoman military response. Furthermore, Lemkin believed that political groups, such as the Armenian Revolutionary Federation that organized and implemented the revolt, should be included under the protection of the United Nations Genocide Convention; however the conferees who drafted the convention as it has been adopted today roundly rejected that inclusion as that would cause the overlapping with other crimes and generalize all wars as genocide.
I would like to refrain from passing a judgment on the content of the CNN special report without having seen it. However, I truly hope that CNN takes into consideration the genuine controversy that defines the Armenian case, the importance of refraining from judging the events at a time when Turkey and Armenia are taking bold new steps toward reconciliation. The Turkish American community expects fair treatment on this sensitive issue and hopes that CNN can offer a background statement that could be helpful for establishing a just and equitable discussion of the events of 1915, rather than a one-sided, dismissive declaration that these events were genocide and nothing else.
 April 14, 2002, at the National Press Club on C-Span 2