In recent weeks, while Armenian-Americans were preoccupied with Presidential elections in America and Armenia, there were other interesting developmen’s that may not have attracted public attention. Here are my brief observations on some of them:
Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will be visiting Turkey next month, accompanied by several high-ranking military and civilian officials. They were preceded by General James E. Cartwright, Vice Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff; Frank C. Urbancic, Jr., Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism; and Attorney General Michael Mukasey who rushed to Ankara last week. It looks like Cheney and the others may be taking advantage of their last year in office to travel overseas at taxpayers’ expense; or are they plotting another dangerous Middle East adventure?
Prof. Israel W. Charny, Executive Director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem, has written a thought-provoking analysis titled: "The Question of a Possible Relationship Between Mental Disturbance and Denials of Known Genocides such as the Holocaust and Armenian Genocide." Dr. Charny, a practicing clinical psychologist, wonders whether "some deniers of the Holocaust or other genocides are, in fact, quite crazy, or in more polite scientific parlance, mentally ill. For on the surface of it, the basic claim that a major historical event of genocide — which the whole world knows took place — never took place, is madness." Prof. Charny also writes: "There may very well be in a given denier a bona fide psychiatric paranoid personality disorder or even a worse psychotic paranoid condition." Although Charny’s diagnosis does not come as a surprise to Armenia’s, it is good to get the views of a mental health expert on this sordid subject.
The Turkish government, under great pressure from European Union officials, shortly will submit to Parliament an amended version of the infamous Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code on "Insulting Turkishness." This law has been used to prosecute all those who dare to utter the words "Armenian Genocide," including Hrant Dink, Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak. The revised version of this preposterous law will still prosecute all those who insult the Turkish people, the Turkish Republic, the State, the Parliament, the courts, the military and the police. Those who violate the "amended" law could receive a prison sentence of up to 24 months. It is hard to imagine that this draconian law would make Turkey worthy of joining the ran’s of civilized European countries.
Not satisfied with the ridiculous claim that "dark-skinned" Americans are descendants of Turkish sailors who were shipwrecked on the US East Coast centuries ago, some Turks are now alleging that they are blood relatives of Native Americans (American Indians), according to a report by Elif Ozmenek in the Turkish Daily News. The article also claims that there are similarities between the Turkish and Native American languages. Some Turks attending a recent conference in New York organized by "the Istanbul University Alumni Association of the USA" were asking if Turks could now get visas to come to the United States, at the invitation of their newly-found American Indian relatives! The true agenda of this bizarre conference was revealed by Ali Cinar, President of the Alumni Association, when he solemnly declared: "In the U.S. Senate there are 15 (sic) Native American Senators. Therefore, I see this conference also as an important element in strengthening the Turkish lobby and increasing its supporters in the U.S. Senate."
Ali H. Aslan, the well-known Turkish commentator for "Today’s Zaman" newspaper, echoed my earlier column titled: "Erdogan’s Insulting Words about Obama May Haunt Turkey after the Elections." In his Feb. 8 article, Mr. Aslan wrote: "Bad news for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Given the results of the ‘Super Tuesday’ primaries in the US, Barack Obama, whom Erdogan lashed out at after he promised to acknowledge the so-called ‘Armenian genocide,’ has never been so close to winning the Democratic Party’s nomination for the 2008 presidential elections." Should Sen. Obama win in November, Armenian-Americans may wish to remind him of the Turkish Prime Minister’s insulting words, so that he could deal with Turkey appropriately.
Finally, the newly-formed "U.S. Azeris Network" announced that its "400,000 members" would be supporting Republican Presidential candidate John McCain. Azerbaijani-Americans, like all Americans, have the right to support the candidate of their choice. The only problem is that there may not be more than a couple thousand Azerbaijanis who are U.S. citizens and registered to vote. Sen. McCain better not count on a handful of Azerbaijanis to secure his political future.