That French Bill–Another Look

Avedis Kevorkian, Philadelphia, PA USA, 29 January 2012

It is time to take a step back, take a deep breath, and appraise the situation.

Having taken that step back, having taken that deep breath, and having appraised the situation, I am not sure that I like what I see.

I am referring to that recent action of the French government, and that much discussed “genocide bill.”

Avedis Kevorkian, Philadelphia, PA USA, 29 January 2012

It is time to take a step back, take a deep breath, and appraise the situation.

Having taken that step back, having taken that deep breath, and having appraised the situation, I am not sure that I like what I see.

I am referring to that recent action of the French government, and that much discussed “genocide bill.”

What I don’t like is the way the Armenians cheapened the measure that the French Senate recently voted upon. Of course, I am pleased with what the French did, but listening to the Armenians, one would get the impression that it was strictly an Armenian-oriented measure.
I confess that I was fooled––once again––by the universal (it seemed) Armenian bombast and Turkish-style outbursts. When will I ever learn that when the Armenians sing and dance in the streets, I should take a step back, take a deep breath, and appraise the situation?
What the French have done is to criminalize the denial of the fact of ALL genocides––not (as the Armenian hazzahs had it) solely the Armenian Genocide. In short, what the French did was a far more noble, a far more humanitarian act. True, as of now, France has acknowledged only two genocides––that of the Jews and that of the Armenians––but it is saying to the world, that it will probably get around to recognizing other genocides and, thus, their denial will be punished, as well.
The unpunished denial of one genocide leads, easily, to the denial of another. Many worthy people have stated what to many of us is logical, that had Turkey been punished for its genocide of the Armenians, the genocide of the Jews might not have taken place, as Adolph Hitler more-or-less suggested when he asked the rhetorical question, “Who, after all, remembers. . . ?”
There is an intelligent exchange going on among a few Armenians (and I have been privileged to be included) about the French measure, which is why I have visited this subject in a more serious manner than my earlier essay. However, the views expressed here are my own.
What the French have done is not directed against any country (as the blatherings of the Armenians seem to suggest, and as Turkey seems to assume). It is a country taking a very high moral stance on a very high mountain top, and we Armenians have cheapened it almost to the extent of making it a political point-scoring gesture. In fact the Armenian blusterings almost jeopardized the passage of the measure!
True, the Turks helped. And how they helped! Though there is nothing in the French measure that named the Turks (or the genocide-perpetrators, the Ottomans), Turkey saw fit to get its collective bowels in a twist. Whether it was in reaction to the Armenian glee or whether it saw something else in the measure it is hard to tell from the Turkish agitation. Obviously, Turkey knows it committed the 20th century’s first state-conceived, state-planned, state-executed genocide, and it sees and hears the unexpressed words, “. . .by the Turks,” after every reference to “Armenian genocide.” And that is a paranoia that only they can resolve.
But, back to my unease. I am tempted to write to President Sarkozy and suggest that he not sign the measure into law. That is how strongly I feel about the stupidity (I can’t think of another word, although “imbecility” seems to be at the end of my finger-tips) of the Armenians in usurping for themselves what was intended to be more universal act.
I suppose I am writing these words, also, because I am ashamed to have been swayed by the Armenian clamor without checking the language of the French measure which says nothing about the Armenians (or the Jews but, bless them, the Jews have more sense than the Armenians and they wouldn’t be carried away like the Armenians––who substitute passion for thought).
What is amusing––Yes, I can find something humorous––is that apparently someone asked the American State Department its reaction to the French action, and the Turkish-dictated answer was something to the effect that “America has not changed its position.” No one has asked, “What position?” Is it on matters-Armenian or is it on matters-genocide? But, aware that Turkey was outraged about France, he took the safe position. Instead of saying, “We have read the French measure, and we think it isn’t a bad idea criminalizing the denial of genocides. But it isn’t for us, since some of our best friends commit genocides––often with our arms and help.”
What I hope I have learned from recent events is that I should never again pay any attention to what Armenians say––until I have checked their statements carefully. The Armenian diaspora seems to have learned the wrong kind of lesson from the Turks: Use a megaphone, not the brain.
When the Armenian megaphones come out, it is time to take a step back, take a deep breath, and appraise the situation.
  1. Noblesse Oblige

    When Avedis speaks of the ‘loud mouth’ Armenians cheapening the measure of a probable law approved by the Senate, he should have made a noted exception of me. But he did not because he is very much the Armenian he so despises. I apologize for these harsh words because I get “pissed” hearing the cliché’ over again, mostly from ‘old hats’ and I am referring to age. I do not support criminalization of the historical events and I have voiced my opinion publically. I am against criminalization of the Holocaust. However I applauded the French measure because denial of the Holocaust is criminal then its fair and equitable that the denial of the Genocide of the Armenians be criminal as well. My other consideration for supporting the measure was the dissemination of the historical event over the wires into the four corners of the world. Just few decades ago I remember us at the ARF Gomideh in NJ, where I was a member then, discussing buying a page in NY Times on April 24 to let its readers know of the Genocide of the Armenians. I do not remember now if we did it or not. But I remember us agonizing over the price we had to pay to make our Genocide known to the readers of NY Times. Those days are over now. Whether Sarkozy approves the measure into a law or not is immaterial to me. The purpose of the act is served as far as I am concerned. But ‘Nobless Oblige’ and Sarkozy being a fair and a noble Frenchman will sign it into to the law. I advise Avedis, as one the members of this group of Armenians of superior intellect- an off shoot of MENSA maybe – of which I am not privileged to be a member, not to waste ink, however cheap, and write to Sarkozy advising him not to sign the measure into law.

  2. Quo Vadis?

    I am new to "Keghart" and in reading the electronic version I often wonder whither it goes.

    We definitely need discussion and exchange of views. But this exchange should be based on facts and a rational analysis of these facts.Otherwise shooting from the hip does not distinguish us from those who proceeded us-people given to emotional outbursts, to hyperbole and empty speeches.

    Kevorkian is all over the place and this is the last thing we need now: confuse the Armenian reader who is trying to find out both the opportunities and limits of this measure passed by France while fighting off Turkish propaganda that has managed to insert the issue of freedom of expression into the rhetoric, thus creating the impression of a public opinion sympathetic to its goals and objectives.

    Nothing is far from the truth than that but we need to be vigilant and put up  a well structured story to fight off this duplicitous distortion of facts. Unfortunately, the Armenian public scene is occupied now by people who have neither the capability nor the experience to manage a more complex set of global relations, are incapable of professionalizing their approach and by default let "accidental tourists" delve into issues for which they too have limited expertise or following.

    For God sake, stop this self flagellation. If you know something, get involved, start a revolution,be a change factor. Do something !!!

  3. “In my view genocide denial…”

    “In my view genocide denial is not an expression, it’s a lie with a very clear political agenda if not criminal intent behind it.”

    Caroline Fournet
    Senior researcher at the Convention on Human Rights, senior lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of Groningen, Netherlands. 

    January 29, 2012, Sunday Edition, CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

  4. Too Analytical Grumpy Men

    I wish that just for once, we as people agree on anything. As someone once put it: "We only have one common thing that binds us together: the Genocide." It is unfortunately true and sad that it is the only thing that we agree upon.  

    To answer Mr. Kevorkian, who exaggerates and has taken the situation a little bit far, why shouldn’t Armenians be happy and express their feelings about the French bill? Whether it was done for us or not doesn’t matter, as long as it was done. When has ever any nation backed us and our cause? That’s why we are not used to foreign support; and when it happens we are ecstatic that we are even on their minds. 

    As for the bill not mentioning Turkey, if they are innocent why are they taking it on themselves to block it, to lobby against it, and even ruin their relations with France? It’s because they know it was intended for them, even if their name is not mentioned.
    The megaphone is the public opinion that Turkey always uses. Why shouldn’t we use it, too? It is effective. Many countries use it to summon support and advance their cause or action. I wish we would learn cunning in politics from the Turks, instead of indulging in the usual naiveté that has gotten us nowhere. 

    Mr. Kevorkian suggests that we use our brains. That’s good and dandy since we are not stupid. But if you have the brains but do not capitalize on the situation, your brains are worthless. By the way, brains are not the only asset in politics.

    Another point Mr. Kevorkian makes is that this bill was totally French-made and that Armenians had nothing to do with it. I wonder what the French and Armenian presidents and foreign ministers were doing when visiting, in the past decade, Armenia and France. They certainly were not tourists. Since Chirak, French presidents have been paying visits and placing wreaths at the Genocide Memorial in Yerevan, having French month in Yerevan, Armenian month in Paris and so on.

    Armenians everywhere, year after year have been shouting for justice for the memory of our martyred forefathers and not abandoning the cause. Yes, the French Senate bill was not strictly an Armenian-oriented measure, but it was Armenian perseverance and non-abandonment of Hye Tad for nearly 100 years from top down which Turkey hoped and still hopes would be forgotten.

    1. Repeating Turkish Propaganda

      Dear Alidz,

      It’s disheartening to read that you believe the only thing that binds Armenians is the Genocide. This is exactly the falsehood Turkish propaganda has been spreading for years. I am stunned that an Armenian would fall for the Turkish allegation and even repeat it.

      What binds Armenians together? Here’s a very short list: Ararat/Urartu/Nairi; Karhunge; Medzn Dikran; our language; our music; our alphabet; Krikor Lusavorich; Echmiadzin; our Church and faith; our golden translation of the Bible; Kachn Vartan; Vahan Mamigonian; Moushegh Mamigonian; our pride in our identity and uniqueness; our indomitable spririt… I stopped at the fifth century. If you know anything about Armenians and their history, you may wish to add to the short list… you have 16 centuries of reasons that bind us together.

      Please don’t repeat the Turkish lie. It insults us and our 4,000 plus year history.


      1. You Are Misinterpreting

        You are misinterpreting the quote which was said by an Armenian. All the things you mention–our culture, history, religion, mountains, kings, saints–are realities and invariables that nobody is disputing, but when it comes to agreeing with one other and rallying behind what’s in our national interest and pride as people, motherland, diaspora there disagreements and disputes lie. And you also hear a voice from every angle. Take the Genocide out and every Armenian will go his/her way.        

  5. I recomend to Kevorkian

    I recomend to Kevorkian: read Denis Donikian’s article. It is a lesson in humanism and respect at our reaction.
    I hope Kevorkian changes his unhappy opinion.   
  6. Kevorkian’s Letter

    Kevorkian has a point, but I would not go so far as to write to Mr. Sarkozi. The French action would now seriously reduce distorted information written by revisionist historians who are on Turkey’s payroll. This is important because in recent years works published by revisionists, who teach in universities, have appeared and because of their academic status someone trying to find out facts may easily believe the rubbish published by these revisionist historians. Finally, if these historians attended professional meetings held in France, they would get into trouble.

Comments are closed.

You May Also Like