April 4, 1998
Via Fax: 215-854-5099
To the Editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Neely Tuckerís April 3rd article on the extermination of the African Herero tribe by German troops was a welcome break from the conspiracy of silence that has denied a voice to victims of genocides other than the Holocaust. This "passive denial" has, in a sense, prolonged their victimization, denying them their right to heal deep, unresolved traumas passed on from generation to generation. Far worse is when genocide denial is actively promoted by governments and academics alike, as with the Armenian and Pontian Greek Genocides. Setting a bloody precedent for the rest of the twentieth century, some 1.5 million Armenians and 300,000 Pontians (an ancient Greek minority living in the Black Sea region) were systematically exterminated by the Turkish nation during the first two decades of this century.
As summarized by Stanley Cohen, Professor of Criminology at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem:
The nearest successful example [of "collective denial"] in the modern era is the 80 years of official denial by successive Turkish governments of the 1915-17 genocide against the Armenians in which some 1.5 million people lost their lives. This denial has been sustained by deliberate propaganda, lying and coverups, forging documents, suppression of archives, and bribing scholars. The West, especially the United States, has colluded by not referring to the massacres in the United Nations, ignoring memorial ceremonies, and surrendering to Turkish pressure in NATO and other strategic arenas of cooperation.1
What makes Turkeyís brand of genocide-denial so menacing is that it is being aggressively exported to the US, thereby seriously undermining the integrity of our nationís press and academia. As examined by articles in the Inquirer, The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Boston Globe, and even The Turkish Daily News,2 the Turkish Government is making genocide denial a primary foreign policy objective, spending millions of dollars in pursuit of a false and dangerous historical revisionism through the outright purchase of scholars and university chairs within our nationís most prestigious universities.
The poignant German connection Mr. Tucker makes between the genocide of the Hereros and the Holocaust also has its counterpart in the extermination of Turkeyís ancient Christian communities; it was the Germans who instructed the Turks in the methodical annihilation of Asia Minorís Armenian and Greek minorities. Whether through silence or denial, manís most heinous act of self-destruction, genocide, must never slip into the obscurity of a forgotten past that may one day return to haunt us.
Very truly yours,
P. D. Spyropoulos, Esq.
2 "Princeton's Use of Funding From Turkey Draws Criticism", The Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/30/95; "Princeton Is Accused of Fronting For The Turkish Government", The New York Times, 5/22/96; "Critics Accuse Turkish Government of Manipulating Scholarship", Amy Magaro Rubin, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 10/27/95; "Turkish Largess Raises Questions", The Boston Globe, 11/25/95; "Cillerís Favorite, Kriegel, Wins New Exclusive Contract", The Turkish Daily News, 4/16/97.