ATAA IS VERSATILE, VIBRANT, AND RESOURCEFUL AS EVER
I would appreciate it if you publish my response to Tanir's article referenced below. I attempted many times to post my comments at the HDN site since Friday, in the comments section at the end of Tanir's article, but without success
I believe your readers have a right to know what ATAA thinks about an HDN article that covers ATAA.
(address & phones listed)
After three days, my response is still not posted at HDN and I received no inquiries from HDN asking me to shorten my letter. Under the circumstances, I deem HDN unresponsive and I post my letter here for public consumption, as I have nothing to hide from anyone, and that includes the members of the AFATH (Armenian Falsifiers and Turk Haters) community.
Re: "Better or worse days for the ATAA?" , by İLHAN TANIR, Friday, February 5, 2010 ;
ATAA IS VERSATILE, VIBRANT, AND RESOURCEFUL AS EVER
I thank Mr. Tanir, HDN reporter based in Washington DC, for taking the time to chat with President Evinch and I over the phone on 3 February 2010. That’s a first and I appreciate it. My message was simple and I think he got it: if Hurriyet Daily News (HDN) wishes to cover Turkish-American issues objectively, then HDN should make an effort to talk to Turkish-Americans first, along with whoever else HDN believes necessary.
The problem with the recent unfortunate HDN coverage (by Enginsoy) arose because that HDN reporter failed to get the input of the Turkish-Americans in a matter closely concerned them. Had the HDN reporter done so, we, the elected representatives of the Turkish American community, would have filled him in on points, that even Mr. Tanir agrees, the Enginsoy article missed. I am glad to hear that Mr. Tanir will work closely with us in future to avoid such needless failure in communication. To me, then, this whole unfortunate episode is water under the bridge and we all learned something from it. Chalk it off to experience.
Having said that, though, I must express my initial reaction to Mr. Tanir's article as slight disappointment as he seems to have missed what I was trying to emphasize during our telephone conversation. I know he means well so I will not lose any sleep over it, but I would like him to know that I am not against including dissenting points of view in any media, HDN or others. What I am against is including dissenting points of view to the exclusion of my point of view, and the views held by others like myself in our community.
I can effortlessly pinpoint to many articles published in HDN that matter to our community--as all facets of the Turkey-America relations do--and where the ideas and views presented diametrically clash with those widely held in our community. I cannot, however, point a single article where ATAA views are solicited, urged, or otherwise presented in response (the jury is still out on this letter you are reading now.) No op-ed, no article, no survey, not anything. .. What is worse is that there had been no efforts by HDN to do so, not until my letter to HDN editor crossed Mr. Tanir's desk, anyway. That kind of lopsided coverage at HDN is what I am against, not publishing of dissenting views there. Let's please make that clear to one and all.
Perhaps Mr. Tanir would be kind enough to explain what he means by “…The ATAA, unfortunately, has not had a good reputation among the Turkish community living in America until recently for its internal fights…” Is it not this the kind of sweeping and unsubstantiated generalizations in the unfortunate Enginsoy article in the first place that sparked this incident ?
Just because one group disagreed with another, not an uncommon occurrence within volunteer organizations, shall we then rubber stamp "bad reputation nationwide" over the name of that organization? Does Mr Tanir realize that the United States is perhaps the most litigious society on earth and that if he writes off everyone involved in litigation, he would have no one to report on in America? Please, let’s not go overboard with such wild generalizations.
Then Mr Tanir notes “… (ATAA) has become mostly a grassroots organization that uses almost all its energy, time and money to fight the Armenian Diaspora’s efforts, especially before and during the April 24 fever every year …” Here is another generalization with which I have problems. Perhaps if Mr. Tanir gets to know ATAA better, he would feel compelled to correct himself.
First, ATAA was founded as a grassroots organization and performed as such through its volunteers nationwide since day one.
Second, we are not fighting “Armenian Diaspora’s efforts”; we are battling the defamation of Turkish culture and heritage and the demonization of all things Turkish. Whoever is engaged in such practices, that is with whom ATAA fights. It just so happens that mostly Armenian and Greek Diasporas seem to get involved in such malicious practices which is why ATAA had been directing its resources towards those perpetrators.
Where Mr. Tanir makes probably his gravest mistake is this: “…especially before and during the April 24 fever every year …” That is a cliché that is no longer true as the Armenian lobby saw to it that the scope and depth of its efforts to denigrate Turkey are widened, deepened, and spread over twelve months of a year. I can effortlessly provide you with lists of articles, op-eds, books, panels, meetings, commemorations, services, films, exhibits, and more for each and every month, even week, of the year. So, please, let’s kindly stay away from obsolete clichés.
Mr. Tanir comments “… when the American administration announces how it considers and words the tragic events that happened to the Armenians during World War I…” This is a typical line that shows indifference that I hear people in Turkey often say when I visit Turkey. Some have not heard of the Armenian issue; others simply do not understand the gravity of the genocide charges; while most have not read a single book, pro or con, about it. Some even think “What’s in a word?” They don’t understand the four-phase Armenian lobby plan (acceptance-apology-
Whereas there are no countries in Asia or Africa, only three in the entire Americas, and about fifteen out of a possible total of fifty five in Europe, bringing the total number of countries recognizing the bogus Armenian genocide to 20, or 10% of the world, all because of intense political pressure from the Armenian lobby, things may change rapidly after an US recognition.
Whereas all those partisan books and films, biased museums and memorials, malicious propaganda and agitation, violent demonstrations and flag burnings, all those bloody bombings, assassinations, and terrorist acts, topped by persistent lobbying, and much more, over almost a century, got Armenians only 10% of the world ! Not much to write home about, would you agree?
After a US recognition, that number can rise to 80-90% of the United Nations within a few short years. That is how important US President’s approval of genocide is, which, ironically, would make a mockery of the U.S. Congress records because of the following documents--among many others—which clearly refute the Armenian claims of genocide:
a- “American Military Mission to Armenia” (General Harbord) Report 1920 and the Annex Report Nat. Archives 184.021/175 – which does not mention any “race extermination” but, on the contrary, refers to “…refinements of cruelty by Armenians to Muslims…”
b- Joint U.S. CONGRESS RESOLUTION NO. 192, APRIL 22, 1922 relative to the activities of Near East Relief ending 31 December 1921 which has unanimously resolved that a total of 1,414,000 Armenians were alive (which makes killing of 1.5 million Armenians an impossibility and a fallacy, since the total Armenian population was around 1.5 million at the time.)
c- George Montgomery, a member of the U.S. delegation at the Paris Conference, had presented a detailed tabulation in 1919, showing a total of 1,104,000 Armenians alive, apart from those who had already immigrated to other countries.
d- 29 March 1919 report of the Paris Conference subcommittee on atrocities, chaired by the U.S. secretary of State Lansing, lists Armenian losses as “…more than 200,000…” Even this number is exaggerated as they got their information from the Armenian church, not exactly an impartial source. The Turkish Historical Society documented the deaths of 53,000 Armenians using Ottoman police reports field on site, of which number only about 8,400 are reported as victims of massacres. The paragraphs a, b, and c jointly point to the THS number being closer to reality.
Who, then may have jacked this number of Armenian casualties from the original 54,000, first to 200,000 in March 1919, then to 600,000 in May 1919 (in a poster created by Armenians soliciting aid ), and finally to the current 1.5 million? Who are these reckless liars and shameless falsifiers?
Take a guess!
Going back to Mr. Tanir's article, he asserts “…being tied to (genocide) struggle only, in addition to the never-ending internal fights – until recently …” Another unfounded generalization that totally ignores ATAA’s many excellent programs (please see www.ataa.org ) and uses an unfairly broad brush to paint the only litigation in ATAA’s history of 31 years as “never-ending” infighting.
Mr. Tanir states “…narrow-minded and reactionary organization that turned me, along with many others, off over the years…” So a single litigation in 31 years turned him off of ATAA?
Selfless struggle by Turkish-American volunteers against defamation of Turkish heritage by incessant, hate-cultivating, well-financed Armenian lobby turned him, along with other journalists, off? If Mr. Tanir read a book by another Turkish journalist--who shall remain nameless for now and whose book I have read last year--about the state of Turkish journalists in America, he would probably guess who is more turned off by who. I will abstain from giving examples at this time unless I am compelled. Therefore, please, let’s not try to white wash ineptness of some journalists by what ATAA did or didn’t do.
Mr. Tanir claims “… I was saddened at hearing a point of view that usually would not be expected from a person who will assume an important position representing the Turkish community in America…” This point of view, as you wrongly stated in your article, was not being against publishing dissenting views but it was publishing it at the expense of my views. Journalistic ethics and objectivity require that “Both sides” of an issue be provided to unsuspecting readers. What is so strange about this? Why stick to one side and ignore the other?
By the way, if Mr. tabir had his finger on the pulse of our community,he would know how difficult it is to get an op-ed published in Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globes, or the New York Times of this world. How come these papers, who used to the qualifier “alleged” before the term genocide until late 1990s, all of a sudden, “decided” to forego such practice after intense and aggressive Armenian pressure?
NYT would not even publish a paid public announcement about the Turkish-Armenian conflict penned by Turkish American scholars and intellectuals in 2002, deeming it “against the consensus”. Modern psychology defines the term “critical thinking” which contradicts the concept of consensus, relegating it to “groupthink”. I would like to make that “manipulated groupthink”.
Let me get this right: No eyebrows are raised when the big media can censor and HDN can ignore our views, but when we complain about it, HDN reporter becomes “… saddened at hearing a point of view that usually would not be expected from…” an ATAA leader? Guess who is saddened more reading this uncorroborated and unfair generalization.
Mr. Tanir adds “…I disagreed with his complaining about the Hürriyet Daily News just because it gives space to different opinions, including opinion pieces that run contrary to the official Turkish state policies in many matter….” There multiple errors here.
1) I am not against giving space to different opinions at HDN; I am against doing this at the expense of our views being ignored. Big difference, wouldn’t you agree? I tried to explain this many time during our chat. For good measure, I am also making it a matter of record here, in case some insist on not getting it.
2) About “…including opinion pieces that run contrary to the official Turkish state policies…”, I guess we need to get Mr. Tanir sensitized a little bit with your loose and sloppy descriptions. While such comments will sadden and disappoint us, they can get him in trouble with US law. ATAA is an American institution with American citizens as members. It is illegal to promote the interests of a foreign government in America without registering as a lobbyist first. By sloppily implying that ATAA promote official (Turkish) state positions , Mr. Tanir is implying we are unregistered lobbyists, not volunteers educating the Americans on Turkish culture and promoting better understanding between Turkey and America. We, as ATAA and Turkish Americans, have absolutely no say on Turkish state policies, nor do we always with all of them. If you read my articles (and there are quite a few) you will realize that I even criticize Turkish government from time to time. Please, try to be more discriminating, if not meticulous, with your sweeping and casual characterizations.
Mr. Tanir concludes with “…ATAA tries to do better work and I am ready to give the group the benefit of the doubt, even if I disagree sharply with some of its perspectives…” Would Mr. Tanir please tell us what those perspectives are with which he disagrees? I am very curious.
I appreciate Mr. Tanir’s time spent with me and President Evinch, I must say I am disappointed with the obsolete clichés, sweeping generalizations, and careless implications he felt obliged to include.
Most Armenians and their sympathizers disagree with the Turkish position on the historical controversy surrounding the interpretation of Ottoman-Armenian history and that is quite understandable. But none of this means that the Turks, Turkish-Americans, and ATAA are advocating against these people. To make such a leap is to grossly misunderstand the nature and value of freedom of thought and speech in the United States.
To censor contra-genocide views on account that they may suggest revision to history is also misguided and works against America’s core values. It suggests that there is a widely accepted version of what truth shall be, a monitored and manipulated “groupthink”, about issues that need further research and debate. This kind of legislating and policing of scholarship which in itself is a disturbing notion bodes ill against the freedom of expression. It is a far greater evil to stunt debate and curtail speech (as big media in America frequently attempt in our case) than it is to advocate for a broader interpretation of any controversy.
History is not a matter of belief, convictions, or gut feelings; it is a matter of research, peer review, and revision to include the emerging and proven facts. History of 100 years ago, or 50 years ago, or even 10 years ago is continually changing with every bit of new archives opened or exposed, every new document “declassified”, every piece of information placed in circulation after being held secret. Revision, if done scholarly and properly, is not only good, but required for a vibrant society.
The ability to explore and discuss controversial issues in a reasoned, civilized, and scholarly manner is one of the things that make the Turkish American community such a rich and vibrant place. I hope to reach a future phase fast where we can understand each other better. I find our exchange thoughtful, considerate, and very useful.
So, by all means, Mr. Tanir should please keep in touch.
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