>From Ankara to Dresden:
Truth vs. point of view when diplomacy is the real issue



By John Hughes
ArmeniaNow editor


Baseless. Ignorant. Hateful.

Where are those three words when you need them?

Not in Washington, D.C.

Surely, not in Ankara, Turkey this April.


They were in Dresden Friday, rolling off the lips of my hero and president,
Barack Obama, and the words were truthful and surgery sharp and divided
sensible people from fools who think accepting history is one of life's
options.

`To this day, there are those who insist that the Holocaust never happened -
a denial of fact and truth that is baseless and ignorant and hateful,' Obama
said. `This place is the ultimate rebuke to such thoughts, a reminder of
our duty to confront those who would tell lies about our history.'

Substitute `Holocaust' with `Armenian Genocide', and the language would
belong to the man I still believe him to be, rather than the one who has
replaced a ! with a ? in the estimation of many Armenian Americans and some
of us who are convincingly more the latter than the former.

I'm struck at his use of the words `our history'.

Ours?

Who owns the franchise on the bit of history that was shaped in the 1915-18
Ottoman Empire? To this day, the Turks, that's who. They are the ones who
get to manipulate it into revisionist history that eliminates ownership.
`We didn't do it, the war did.'

Is anybody's family less dead depending on the language that is used to
describe why hate killed them? Does the Jewish burden weigh heavier than the
Armenian? No, the Holocaust burden enjoys shared suffering because it is
`our history'.

And whether from Hrazdan or Harvard, who doesn't seen the hypocrisy of the
world leader laying flowers in Dresden, but wilting from the obligation of
truth in Ankara?

Why could my president bow his head in Dresden for the Holocaust, but not
straighten his back in Ankara and use the word `genocide' to answer a
reporter's question about the `atrocities' of early-20th century Turkey?

For those of you tuning in late: On April 6, Obama visited Turkish President
Abdullah Gul in Ankara and during a press conference was asked whether he
would use the `g-word' in his April 24 address on Remembrance Day.

"I want to focus not on my views right now, but on the views of the Turkish
and Armenian people. If they can move forward... the entire world should
encourage them," the president said.

It was brilliant diplomacy. He at least implied that he knew the truth, even
though he wasn't going to say it. Perhaps that's a start, considering that
this president - who has supported Armenian Genocide recognition - still has
more than three years on his tenure.

Still, thinking of the president's word in Dresden, `ignorant': Is it worse
to deny that evil happened, or to know that it did and not say so, for sake
of diplomatic expediency?

I really wish my president would have stopped short of saying this in
Dresden: `This place is the ultimate rebuke to such thoughts, a reminder
of our duty to confront those who would tell lies about our history.'

What's the difference between telling a lie, and not shouting the truth when
empowered to do so?

Apparently it is the difference between `our history' and `my views right
now'.
From: Baghdasarian