WASHINGTON–”Shove it up your ass–how’s that?” lashed out Heath Lowry–chairperson of Princeton University’s Ataturk Turkish studies department–when approached yesterday by Armenian community activists with a copy of a petition signed by more than a hundred of America’s leading academic and literary figures condemning his efforts to discredit scholarship on the Armenian Genocide.
The petition–entitled–”Taking a Stand Against The Turkish Government’s Denial of the Armenian Genocide and Scholarly Corruption in the Academy–A Statement Issued by Concerned Scholars and Writers,” was presented to Lowry following a panel discussion he had moderated during a half -day seminar on Turkey at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
The four-hour-long program–presented by The Middle East Institute and sponsored by Johns Hopkins SAIS and the Assembly of Turkish-American Associations–was entitled “Perspectives on Turkey,” and included the participation of academics and government officials. Among the topics addressed during the conference were “Domestic and Foreign Policy Issues” and “Turkish Studies in North America.” Lowry–who moderated the “Islam and Politics” portion of the program–has in recent months been the subject of growing controversy because of his close ties with Turkish government officials and the circumstances surrounding his appointment to chair the Princeton Turkish studies program. The Armenian National Committee of America – Eastern Region–has repeatedly called upon Princeton University to end its association with Lowry.
Local Armenian Youth Federation and Armenian National Committee activists were present to distribute the petition to the approximately 200 individuals who attended the program.
The petition was signed by a broad range of renowned scholars including Israel Charney–Helen Fein and Henry Louis Gates–as well as Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Kurt Vonnegut and Arthur Miller. Before the beginning of the program–several of the individuals were asked to stop placing the petitions on chairs and they were subsequently asked to leave the premises. Sarig Armenian–a Greater Washington AYF “Ani” Chapter member–one of the first participants asked to leave–explained–”Shortly after I began placing petitions on chairs–organizers of the event became visibly agitated. They rather tersely told me to evacuate the premises–and the front security guard was instructed not to allow me back into the building. This occurred in spite of the event being advertised as open to public.”
Alex Sardar–who approached Lowry after he had ended his panel discussion–recounted–”When I approached Professor Lowry and presented him with the petition–he was visibly angered–far beyond anything that could be reasonably expected in such a setting. And when I inquired about his opinion on the matter–I was taken aback by his vulgar and extremely inappropriate response.” Following the exchange Lowry stormed out of the room.