BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN
While Armenian-Americans closely follow the sinister efforts of Turkey and its lobbying firms, they rarely pay attention to a handful of Turkish-Americans who are either on the payroll of the Turkish government or blindly carry out propagandistic activities out of a misguided sense of patriotism!
One such Turkish-American is Oya Bain who was described in a recent interview by the Turkish denialist website HistoryofTruth.com as “one of the most active names in the Turkish American Diaspora.” She is a Board Member of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), a coalition of 60 Turkic associations in the United States.
Bain claims that after many years of ATAA’s efforts in organizing “lectures, conferences, programs about the false Armenian claims throughout the U.S., in 2015 [Armenian Genocide Centennial], the frequency and the intensity of such programs reached the highest number.” She adds that there has been a significant “increase in the number of serious scholars and academicians studying the Ottoman period during WWI objectively and publishing their findings without the Armenian threats and intimidation of the previous years.”
Curiously, Bain uses the wording, “we have serious scholars,” when naming denialist writers Ed Erickson, Michael Gunter, Guenter Lewy, Tal Buenos, Jeremy Salt, Norman Stone, Christopher Gunn, Maxime Gauin, and Pat Walsh.” What exactly does Bain mean by saying, “we have” them? This phraseology is surely a “kiss of death” for any self-respecting scholar!
Responding to a question regarding relations between Armenians and Turks in Washington, DC, Bain takes advantage of the opportunity to attack the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA): “Yes, we have friends in the Armenian community. Turkish Armenians are warm, friendly and like us. Then, we face entities like ANCA, a relentlessly hostile and negative organization, prejudice, exaggerations and outright lies in the media, political circles, academia.” She is also not too fond of my weekly columns: “Just recently, an Oct. 20, 2015 article by extremist writer Harut Sassounian was headlined as ‘To Ban Genocide Denial, [European] Court Incites Armenians to Commit Violence.’”
Closing her eyes to the millions of dollars spent every year by the Turkish government to manipulate politicians, journalists, authors, and so-called scholars, Bain exaggerates the measly budgets of ANCA and Armenian Assembly, falsely describing them as “well-funded, have plush offices and large staff…. It is definitely an industry.”
Bain proudly reports that the Turkish Caucus in the House of Representatives has grown from 62 in 2005 to 151 members. Acknowledging that money buys votes, as in the case of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, she asserts: “We don’t have as many votes as the Armenian and Greek communities, but we can provide financial and volunteer support.” Bain lashes out at Senator Menendez and House members Pallone and Pelosi by describing them as “die hard members [of Congress] who are very rigid and very antagonistic to Turks.”
As a seasoned propagandist, Bain states that her organization tries to win over — I would say ‘fool’ — members of Congress by presenting to them “a message of reconciliation with Armenia.” As an example, she cites “ATAA’s support for the 2009 Armenian Turkish Protocols, especially the formation of an independent committee of objective historians to study the Armenian-Ottoman conflict.” She conveniently forgets to mention that Turkey has persistently refused to ratify the Protocols!
Acknowledging that ATAA was established in 1979 by Sukru Elekdag, then Turkish Ambassador to the United States, Bain inadvertently discloses ATAA’s extensive political activities which violate the organization’s non-profit status! She unwisely urges ATAA groups “to get out of the harmful mindset that as 501-c-3 [non-profit] organizations they ‘cannot be active politically.’ This attitude has seriously hampered our efforts to challenge the regional Armenian allegations.” Complaints should be filed with the IRS to restrict or terminate ATAA’s lobbying activities.
ATAA may also be in violation of other U.S. laws. Qualifying as “excellent” the relationship between ATAA and the Turkish Embassy in Washington DC, Bain acknowledges that successive Turkish Ambassadors in Washington have provided “much support” to ATAA, such as sponsoring “many fabulous fund-raising events at the Embassy.” She does not seem to realize that her self-aggrandizing revelations could land ATAA in legal trouble, requiring registration with the U.S. Department of Justice as a “foreign agent.”
In her concluding remarks, Bain accuses the American media of “bias, suppression of any good news of Turkey, subtle discrimination.” She then adds: “The media bias became much worse during April 24, 2015, the centenary of the Armenian claims…. It will probably take another 100 years to reverse and correct the misconceptions.” Bain vainly hopes that “in the next 100 years the Armenian lies and propaganda will be purged and a balanced view of the Turkish Armenian tragedy will emerge, respecting the suffering and death of both peoples during 1915. I think the Armenian tragedy is now so debased by vulgar propaganda that it cannot get lower…. One wishes that the Internet may eventually be cleansed of the garbage of wrong information about the Armenian claims. I am hopeful about the next 100 years. The tide is turning around.”
It is imperative that Armenians counter the lobbying campaigns of not only the Turkish government but also ‘Lone Wolves’ like Oya Bain, without overstepping the bounds of civility and legality!