Samantha Power Takes the NYT to Task over Its Supposedly Evenhanded Account of the Armenian Massacre

Roundup: Talking About History

From a letter to the editor of the NYT:

To the Editor:

"Movie on Armenians Rekindles Flame Over Turkish Past" (Arts pages, Jan. 20) says"Turkish and Armenian historians have given widely differing accounts of what happened in 1915." But that is not a matter of ethnic perspective. The extermination of the Armenians is recognized as genocide by the consensus of scholars of genocide and Holocaust worldwide. The failure to acknowledge this trivializes a human rights crime of enormous magnitude.

The Ottoman Turkish government's meticulously planned extermination of its Christian Armenian citizens took the lives of more than a million Armenians in 1915 and 1916. Another million Armenians survived the death marches but were permanently exiled from their homeland of 2,500 years. It is denigrating to refer to these facts as Armenians being" chased from their ancestral homelands."

It is ironic as well, because in 1915 The New York Times published 145 articles about the Armenian genocide and regularly used the words"systematic,""government planned" and"race extermination."
Hamilton, N.Y., Jan. 20, 2004
The writers are, respectively, a professor of humanities at Colgate University and a lecturer at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

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Van L. Hayhow - 1/31/2004

I always thought it was interesting when writers for newspapers or magazines don't bother to use the back issues available to them in writing a story. I once saw an interview in Downbeat (probably the longest lasting American jazz magazine and one which often does take an historical perspective) printed an interview with an established artist who originally played classical, not jazz. He gave a story about how he made the transition giving himself all the credit for making the transition and forming the band he was in. The only problem was that the liner notes of the group's first album and an article published in Downbeat about 10 years earlier the true story had been printed. Neither the interviewer nor the editor checked the story with these obvious sources. The end result was an article that made the magazine look silly. The same result seems to be here on a much more serious issue.