BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
So disconnected from reality is an article I just read from a Turkish source, that I thought I had found the explanation for why we no longer hear (since the 1970s) about opium from Turkish poppies being shipped to the west— the Turks are smoking it all, with none left for export.
A friend who had attended the ANCA-Western Region’s Grassroots Conference on Thanksgiving weekend met a Turkish participant, Bahar Senem Çevik-Ersaydi, who is an Assistant Professor at Ankara University. She’s the author of the article, “The Armenian Diaspora and the Need for the ‘Other’” (published in Issue no.09/2011 of “Gazi Akademik Bakış”) that betrays where the bulk of Turkish intellectuals (let alone society) are stuck when it comes to Armenian issues, and particularly, the Genocide.
This article, based partially on discredited Freudian psychological theories, posits that the Armenian Diaspora uses “Turks” as the “other” which serves as a “reservoir all bad elements”. Why? Because, it seems, according to Çevik-Ersaydi, this is at least one of the main ways (if not the way) the Diaspora sustains its identity. We allegedly teach kids to hate Turks for this reason.
Of course it seems to escape our “learned” author that any human learning of the type of horrors inflicted by the Turks on our families, would, as a first reaction, hate the perpetrator of such a crime if her/his family were the victim.
It is precisely the horror and magnitude of the crime of genocide that understandably leads the Turks of today not to be able to even consider that THEIR families could have been guilty of such a crime. Yet, not only consider, but accept it they must.
The article is laced with the usual Turkish denialist narrative. First off, not once is the term “genocide” used. It is “events”, “historical enmity”, “sense of being victimized”, etc. Then we have the usual attempt to equate the Armenian and Turkish experiences of the era in question, perhaps best manifested by this sentence from her conclusion:
“These two groups which are so much alike in terms of eating-drinking habits, dressing, culture and music have identified each other as their archenemy due to past experiences with each other and various external provocations.”
Of course you’ll notice the attribution of Armenian-Turkish antagonism to “external” factors. Naturally, the de rigueur reference to Armenian terrorism is present, and taken to the laughable extent of somewhat anachronistically describing Ashod Yergat (whose 1870 birth-date she notes), one of our revolutionary-period heroes, as a “terrorist.” This is all standard-issue Turkish jargon used to discredit our efforts to restore justice to our nation.
Then we have the attempt to give this “polite” denialism the veneer of legitimacy. Of course the article is a study in “political psychology” published in an academic journal. She references Armenian sources— Hrant Dink, Viken Yacoubian, Donald E. and Lorna Touryan Miller, even “Haytoug”— the AYF-Western Region’s publication, along with others. Various sources are cited in the first half of the article where a theoretical construct is assembled to help in the effort to explain away, minimize, Armenians’ responses to the Genocide.
My friend, who had mentioned me to Bahar Senem Çevik-Ersaydi, suggested I talk to her before writing this piece. After reading her article, I’m glad I did not, because she is still far too lost in the jungle of denialism for me to give her a hand so she can cross over into the land of human decency.
Nevertheless, I would not object to meeting with her, as long as our discussion was recorded, since I would not want to be misquoted or cited out-of-context. I also laud her attendance at the Grassroots Conference, though I am a bit suspicious of her motivation and the prism through which she perceived what was presented and discussed there.
Instead of trying to explain away Armenian attitudes through abused psycho-babble (“chosen trauma” is what she calls the Genocide, a farcical term in all but her extremely narrow context), Çevik-Ersaydi should perhaps look into herself to discern what motivates her to engage in “polite” denial of the Armenian Genocide. Let’s all help her if she asks for it.