The Armenian Holocaust
The internet is a great place, and as many bloggers know, also a place where spite, hate and suspicion can easily be thrown at you. Consider this story:
Could it possibly be that the security men who guard the frontiers of North America are supporting Holocaust denial? Alas, it's true. Here's the story.
Taner Akcam is the distinguished Turkish scholar at the University of Minnesota who, with immense courage, proved the facts of the Armenian genocide - the deliberate mass murder of up to a million and a half Armenians by the Ottoman Turkish authorities in 1915 - from Turkish documents and archives. His book A Shameful Act was published to great critical acclaim in Britain and the United States.
He is now, needless to say, being threatened with legal action in Turkey under the infamous Law 301 - which makes a crime of insulting "Turkishness" - but it's probably par for the course for a man who was granted political asylum in Germany after receiving an eight-year prison sentence in his own country for articles he had written in a student journal; Amnesty International had already named him a prisoner of conscience.
But Mr Akcam has now become a different kind of prisoner: an inmate of the internet hate machine, the circle of hell in which any political filth or personal libel can be hurled at the innocent without any recourse to the law, to libel lawyers or to common decency. The Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink was misquoted on the internet for allegedly claiming that Turkish blood was "poisonous"; this total lie - Dink never said such a thing - prompted a young man to murder him in an Istanbul street.
But Taner Akcam's experience is potentially far more serious for all of us. As he wrote in a letter to me this month, "Additional to the criminal investigation (law 301) in Turkey, there is a hate campaign going on here in the USA, as a result of which I cannot travel internationally any more... My recent detention at the Montreal airport - apparently on the basis of anonymous insertions in my Wikipedia biography - signals a disturbing new phase in a Turkish campaign of intimidation that has intensified since the November 2006 publication of my book."
In the blogosphere, there are those that use their anonymity to behave and 'talk' the way they most likely can't in person. There are also many of us, who are in it for the shared discussions, agreement or not. I have a great sense of entitlement when it comes to speaking once mind. Even if it is something I absolutely not agree with. You can criticize the message, but not the messenger. I also equally LOATH blackmail and cowardness of the degree that is displayed in this story. Having had Armenian friends, this Armenian Holocaust is not a big revelation. But as with any story, from which ever side, trying to shut someone up because you don't like what they have to say ticks me off big time. The big cowardess in this story is using the current fear climate of 'terrorists' and falsely accusing people, throwing suspicion on them. And in this current climate, any suggestion seems to be impossible to reject because after all, there is the need to 'protect' the country, isn't it?
It is indeed a Shameful Act!