Please find below:

(1) An excerpt from the January 1-2 broadcast of the prominent political talk show, The McLaughlin Group, naming Ataturk as the "person of the millennium";

(2) A letter of response by AHEPA and AHMP; and

(3) McLaughlin Group and other contact information that recipients of this e-mail are urged to contact.

(1) Excerpt from the January 1-2 broadcast of The McLaughlin Group:

"MR. O'DONNELL: It has to be Mahatma Gandhi, who has been mentioned here as a religious leader and a military leader, neither of which he was. But he showed the world for the first time in history that there was a way to achieve a major contested geopolitical objective without killing people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're in the right sphere. The Person of the Full Millennium goes to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a Muslim visionary who, in 1922, abolished the Ottoman Sultanate, a feudal monarchy; emancipated women, adopted western dress, converted the Arabic alphabet to Latin -- the only leader in history to successfully turn a Muslim nation into a western parliamentary democracy and secular state."

(To view a full transcript of the broadcast, surf to and click "view latest transcripts" where you will find a link to the transcript of the program that aired on January 1-2)

(2) A letter of response by AHEPA and AHMP:

January 6, 2000

John McLaughlin
The McLaughlin Group
1211 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 810
Washington, D.C. 20036

Dear Dr. McLaughlin:

Greetings and happy New Year.

This letter concerns your choice of Ataturk as person of the millennium, aired on your January 1-2 broadcast. You supported your decision by asserting that Ataturk was "a Muslim visionary who, in 1922, abolished the Ottoman Sultanate, a feudal monarchy; emancipated women, adopted western dress, converted the Arabic alphabet to Latin -- the only leader in history to successfully turn a Muslim nation into a western parliamentary democracy and secular state."

We are deeply troubled both by your choice and by the inaccuracies in your supporting statement.

While Ataturk did shape Turkey into a secular Turkish state, as Turkey's first dictator he did so by committing widespread human rights violations against his own people and by implementing the large-scale massacre and ethnic cleansing of millions of Turkey's Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians and other Christian minorities.

After his forces had already routed the Greek army out of Asia Minor in 1922, Ataturk's troops perpetrated one of the most infamous and widely reported war crimes against an urban civilian population prior to WWII. According to reports by U.S. Consul George Horton, Ataturk's troops massacred 200,000 Greeks and Armenians in Smyrna (now Izmir), burning this cosmopolitan New Testament city to the ground while Western warships passively watched from its quay.

As a result of widespread atrocities and of decrees by Ataturk's new government expelling Asia Minor's indigenous Christian inhabitants, well over a million Greeks were ethnically cleansed from Turkey. Many have mistakenly attributed this violent extinction of Hellenism's three-thousand year presence in what is now Turkey to a subsequent treaty's "population exchange" between Greece and Turkey. In fact, Ataturk's ethnic cleansing campaign against Turkey's Greek minority had already taken place – and only 5 years after an earlier Christian holocaust: the Armenian Genocide.

On November 26, 1979, the New York Times wrote: "[a]ccording to the most recent statistics, the Christian population in Turkey has diminished from 4,500,000 at the beginning of this century to just about 150,000. Of those, the Greeks are no more than 7,000. Yet, in 1923 they were as many as 1.2 million." Many have argued that it was Ataturk that set the precedent for further ethnic cleansing campaigns in the Balkans after engineering what was arguably the region's most successful one.

Most importantly, by any meaningful definition of what a "western parliamentary democracy" is, a more sober look at modern Turkey will reveal that Turkey is neither western nor democratic.

Turkey has among the worst human rights records on earth. According to Human Rights Watch, "police continue to shoot and kill peaceful demonstrators" and there is "massive continuing abuse of human rights in Turkey." Torture and extra-judicial killings are prevalent, and the military continues to rule, Oz-like, behind a thin veneer of democracy.

Your colleagues, Dr. McLaughlin, are being imprisoned, tortured and even murdered in Turkey for reporting facts and expressing their opinions -- a liberty that you and journalists supportive of the Turkish government here in the US may take for granted.

In March, the Committee to Protect Journalists maintained that "for the fifth consecutive year, Turkey held more journalists in prison than any other country" ahead of China and Syria. Likewise, a May 1999 report from Reporters Sans Frontieres called upon the Council of Europe to investigate and condemn Turkey for its imprisonment, torture, beatings and assaults of more than 70 journalists since 1998.

Even Western journalists are censored, yet little mention is made in our press. NY Times Istanbul bureau chief Stephen Kinzer had his office ransacked by Turkish secret police and was detained and assaulted while on assignment in southeast Turkey. On June 10th Turkish courts began the criminal prosecution of Andrew Finkel for using the phrase "army of occupation" when referring to Turkish troops. An American citizen and correspondent for Time, CNN and The Times of London, Finkel faces a 6 year maximum prison sentence and remarked: "If this can happen to me, what can they do to Kurds with no foreign connections?"

A report leaked in 1998 by the Turkish prime minister's office to discredit his predecessor had revealed that the government had spent $50 million financing a campaign of terror against its own citizens. This shadow government of right-wing extremists and underworld assassins perpetrated thousands of murders, kidnappings and bombings of Islamic leaders, Kurds, businessmen, journalists, students and opposition leaders over the past ten years. According to the Associated Press, the investigation concluded that since the 1980s "Turkish death squads carried out many of Turkey's 14,000 unsolved murders".

In addition, most of the 35,000 fatalities arising from Turkey's war against its Kurdish separatists have been Kurds, and Human Rights Watch attributes the vast majority of civilian deaths to Turkish troops. According to a State Department report, up to 3 million Kurds have been ethnically cleansed by Turkey's military. In 1974, using a Greek Cypriot coup as a pretext, Turkish forces invaded the northern part of Cyprus and ethnically cleansed 200,000 Greek Cypriots. Turkey continues to occupy Cyprus in violation of numerous UN resolutions.

The fact remains that, in addition to its secular nature, the Turkish state also inherited its repressive authoritarianism from Ataturk.

Far from being a "Muslim visionary", Ataturk's brutal repression of practicing Muslims was motivated in large part by hate, and many historians now believe that Ataturk himself was not a Muslim. According to French historian J. Benoist-Mechin, Ataturk stated: "through the abusive interpretation of ignorant and filthy priests......Islam, this absurd theology of an immoral Bedouin, is a rotting corpse which poisons our lives" (from "Jihad", Paul Fregosi). Ataturk institutionalized his hate of Islam and executed, tortured and imprisoned Muslims for wearing beards and fezes, praying, or for simply practicing their faith. Many believe Ataturk's anti-Islamic Inquisition, and its perpetuation by the Turkish state, has had the effect of radicalizing Islam.

While he did institute many positive and revolutionary reforms after western models and later sought friendship with Greece, Ataturk also set up what would be considered a ruthless dictatorship by any contemporary standard, which he used to suppress Muslims and crush dissent to his program of Turkification and secularization. After Turkey's indigenous Christian minorities were depopulated, Ataturk established Turkey's policy of destroying its Kurdish minority through forced assimilation, ethnic cleansing and democide, a policy that continues to keep Turkey out of the EU and in brazen violation of western humanitarian norms.

While Ataturk incorporated a parliamentary system into his government, he also established the military's political dominance and perpetuated Turkey's authoritarian tradition. And while Ataturk is often glorified for secularizing Turkey, an examination of present-day Syria, Iraq, and yes, Turkey should instruct that the secular nature of a nation's government, Muslim or otherwise, is no guarantee that it will be a democratic one.

Whether looking at Germany's Nazi regime, the Soviet Union, or communist China, some of history's most repressive political systems, and some of its greatest atrocities, have been realized by secular governments despite the fact that they too "emancipated women" and, in the latter two examples, "abolished feudal monarchies". A more temperate analysis would place Ataturk alongside Mussolini, Pinochet, Pol Pot or any other number of brutal 20th Century dictators, noting that they too achieved significant economic, social, military or other achievements.

Turkey's national mythology of Ataturk as an enlightened, humanitarian and progressive ruler has been ratified by much of America's political and media establishment as a result of the US's committed patronage of Turkey. Adopting Turkey's ethic of denial, this in turn has corrupted our own democratic process. In addition, many Greek leaders and academics themselves have forgotten or overlooked these painful historical truths, due in large part to the two decades of détente between Greece and Turkey that were ushered in by Ataturk and his Greek counterpart, and due to Ataturk's attempts to secularize and modernize Turkey.

Yet evidence of just how far the gulf is between the mythology of Turkey as a "western parliamentary democracy", and the reality of the modern Turkish state as among the most repressive in the world, can be seen in how Ataturk himself is treated: any disparagement of Ataturk is still a criminal offense in Turkey. Bringing up the fact that Ataturk molested male and female children, for example (discussed in Lord Kinross' biography of Ataturk, Chapter 2, p. 21), or that he was an alcoholic who died of cirrhosis of the liver will likely land you in a Turkish prison. How well would Americans understand Jefferson, Washington or Lincoln -- or ourselves -- if we similarly censored open debate? It is this policy of censorship, and the resulting lack of historical balance, that perpetuates both Turkey's apotheosis of Ataturk and its culture of denial.

When prominent members of our media legitimize this mythology, they help to further trap Turkey in a backwards and anachronistic holding pattern while much of the Balkans and Eastern Europe continue the painful process of genuine democracy-building and of pursuing peaceful integration with their neighbors into larger, mutually beneficial regional economies.

Finally, given the incredible achievements of the many men and women who have shaped our millennium, and given the crimes against humanity and the repressive political system that Ataturk, a marginal figure of 20th century world history, is responsible for, choosing Ataturk as the greatest person of the millennium was a marked departure from your program's insightful and well-informed commentary.

Military prodigies such as Napoleon, Genghis Khan, and George Washington; paradigm-shifting visionaries such as Newton, Copernicus, Einstein and Darwin; monumental leaders such as Queen Elizabeth I, Chinese Emperor K'ang-hsi, and Byzantium's Emperors Theodora and Michael Palaeologus; timeless sages such as Thomas Jefferson, Africa's Nnamdi Azikiwe, and Adam Smith; giants of political and social change such as Luther, Marx and Gandhi; innovators such as Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Bill Gates; creative geniuses such as Domenicos Theotocopoulos (El Greco), Da Vinci, Beethoven, Rembrandt, and Shakespeare -- whatever the criteria used, whether military, political or humanitarian, Ataturk makes an extremely poor choice for person of the millennium, particularly given that his legacy of authoritarian repression is still with us today in the memories of survivors and their families as well as in the current political system of Turkey itself.

We urge you to reconsider your choice of person of the millennium, and ask that you consider announcing your selection of a more worthy recipient in your next broadcast.

Thank you kindly for your consideration. We welcome your response to our concerns, which shall be passed on to our members, and will be contacting your office within the week.

Very truly yours,

George J. Dariotis
Supreme President
American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association
1909 Q Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 232-6300

P. D. Spyropoulos, Esq.
Executive Director
American Hellenic Media Project
PO Box 1150
New York, NY 10028-0008

The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) is the largest Greek-American organization in the United States with 60,000 members and approximately 700 chapters throughout the country. AHEPA was founded in 1922 to promoted basic civil and human rights for Americans of all ethnic, religious and racial backgrounds and to advance democratic American and Hellenic ideals of education, philanthropy, civic responsibility, and family and individual excellence.

The American Hellenic Media Project (AHMP) is a non-profit think-tank addressing bias in the media and promoting independent, ethical and responsible journalism. Commentaries, letters and op-eds by AHMP have been published in the: Baltimore Sun, Billboard, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Daily Republican, Daily Telegraph, Dallas Morning News, Economist, Financial Times, Forbes Global, Fresno Bee, Irish Times, Knoxville News-Sentinel, Miami Herald, Nat'l Review, NY Newsday, NY Post, NY Times, NY Times Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Plain Dealer, South China Morning Post, St. Petersburg-Times, Star-Ledger, Tampa Tribune, Toronto Sun, USA Today, Village Voice, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Washington Times, and World Press Review.

(3) McLaughlin Group and other contact information that recipients of this e-mail are urged to contact:

To e-mail feedback to The McLaughlin Group,
or take a brief moment to surf to:, then click "suggest an issue" on the bottom right portion of your screen.

To view The McLaughlin Group's website and participate in their surveys, surf to:,

To call NBC's Viewer Hotline in New York City: 212-664-2333
To call MSNBC's viewer hotline: 201-583-5000 (ask for Viewer Services)

To snail mail The McLaughlin Group, write to:
John McLaughlin
The McLaughlin Group
1211 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 810
Washington, D.C. 20036

To send a letter of concern to the program's sponsor, General Electric, take a brief moment to surf to their e-mail form:,

Participants are kindly asked to maintain a courteous manner and to focus on educating Dr. McLaughlin as his decision resulted from a lack of understanding and information.

Recipients of this e-mail are also urged to kindly forward this e-mail to at least three other friends, colleagues or organizations who are interested in media accuracy and who you believe will also join us in providing feedback to the McLaughlin Group on this important issue.

(Note: As of January 6th McLaughlin's choice of Ataturk as person of the millennium has received the highest number of votes on their website survey at 36%, ahead of James Madison, Churchill, Darwin, and Gandhi, and most likely as a result of a Turkish effort to inflate Ataturk's popularity rating, similar to the campaign that targeted Time magazine two years ago.)

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