MEMPHIS–The Armenian National Committee Political Action Committee (ANC-PAC), the nation’s largest Armenian American political action committee, is calling for Congressman Stephen Cohen (D-TN) to end his shameful denial of the Armenian Genocide. Cohen, a Democrat who represents the Ninth Congressional District in Tennessee, is a known genocide denier who has actively worked to oppose legislation to mark the murder of 1.5 million Armenian Christians who died in the first genocide of the 20th century.
Cohen, a member of the Congressional Turkish Caucus, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006 to a majority African American district in and around Memphis, Tennessee. His victory was largely seen by political pundits and observers as the result of a Democratic primary that included 14 candidates, most of them African Americans, who split the vote, thereby allowing Cohen to prevail. In 2008, the African American community has largely rallied around candidate Nikki Tinker, who is challenging Cohen in a Democratic primary slated for this August.
"Congressman Cohen practices what I charitably call selective amnesia on the Armenian Genocide," commented Cohen’s constituent, Dany Beylerian from Memphis. "He should be ashamed for wantonly kowtowing to a foreign government’s [Republic of Turkey] demand that the premeditated murder of the Armenian people be denied. It is unbelievable that the Congressman talks about the Holocaust and the ongoing genocide in Darfur from one side of his mouth and uses the other to deny the Armenian Genocide," added Beylerian.
On October 17, 2007, just seven days after the House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted the Armenian Genocide resolution (H.Res. 106), Cohen joined Congressman John P. Murtha, Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense at a press conference to urge the House Leadership to not bring the Armenian Genocide Resolution to the House Floor for a vote. Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL), chairman of the Congressional Turkish Caucus, also participated in this genocide denial press conference.
In an October 18, 2007 article by New York Times reporter Carl Hulse, Cohen was quoted explaining his opposition to the Armenian Genocide resolution: "I’ve got the compassion for the people, the Armenia’s that are fighting for their ancestors," said Cohen. "But these are real-life situations, and sometimes your heart has to give in to your head and do what makes sense for your country."
Earlier this month, Cohen was asked at a town hall meeting in Memohis why he has chosen to engage in the ugly and immoral practice of genocide denial. He responded by sharing with his constituents that Congress should not legislate history. In an ironic twist, Cohen has introduced legislation apologizing for slavery, himself promoting the legislating of history.
In answering Beylerian at the town hall meeting, Cohen carefully crafted his statemen’s so as not to use the word "genocide." He claimed that Turkey was too important an ally and referred to the Armenian Genocide as a war between Armenian and Turkey. Knowingly or unknowingly, his response is drawn directly from the genocide denial argumen’s crafted by firms lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government that are paid over $2 million annually to deny the Armenian Genocide. When pressed whether he would promote the interests of a German government that denies the Holocaust, Cohen did not provide an answer.
In January of this year Cohen was confronted on his genocide denial in Los Angeles at a fundraiser being held by the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Howard Berman. A number of Armenian Americans present at the event to thank Congressman Berman for his support on all issues of importance to Armenian Americans approached Cohen to ask why he was denying the Armenian Genocide. Cohen replied that he knew the "issue was an emotional one" and that he did not think Congress should legislate history. The Congressman was told that his genocide denial is not welcome in the City of Angels and that Armenian Americans were offended by his position.
The ANC-PAC is a non-partisan federally registered political action committee established to support campaign committees for Members of Congress who share the values of the Armenian American community. The ANC-PAC is at the forefront of efforts to ensure that the voice of the Armenian American community is clearly heard in our nation’s capital. The ANC-PAC continues a century old tradition of Armenian Americans engagement on the public policy issues facing national political leaders, both in the U.S. Congress and the White House.