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Commentary: Dispute Over History of the Armenians Goes On ... And On - 1984

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Dispute Over the History of the Armenians Goes On...and On

Commentary by C. K. Garabed

Published in the Armenian Reporter International

September 27, 1984

Prof. Richard Hovannisian has publicly stated that he would never engage in debate over whether or not the Armenian Genocide occurred. It is irrefutable and therefore undebatable.

Tamar Manjikian, in an article published in another Armenian newspaper, advocated treating those who deny the Armenian Genocide in the same way as those who deny the Holocaust, by fines and imprisonment. Indeed, this has happened, and continues to happen in Europe and Canada. Not yet in America, but that may come in time.

What do the aforementioned have to do with each other? Very simply, they call for laying hands on a two-edged sword. The luxury of ignoring the truth and scholarship in favor of propaganda may for the Armenians be of short duration. Time has a way of changing and different people take command of the scene. Morgenthau, Toynbee, and Lepsius are no more and their influence is a thing of the past. Who would have envisioned even ten years ago that the U.S. State Department would officially cast doubt on the happenings of seventy years ago, happenings that the Armenians worldwide were convinced were irrefutable? Yet we see the tide turning against the Armenians. Despite sponsorship of resolutions by U.S. senators and congressmen calling for official recognition of the Genocide, the Turks continue to gain ground. They have budgeted millions of dollars to improve their image and cast doubt on the claims of the Armenians. They have organized their constituents in America. Americans soon will have to decide whose side to take and if the evidence is inconclusive, opt to remain neutral. But by and by the Turks case will get stronger and the Armenians weaker. Then what will be our predicament, when the official line will be the Turks' and the Armenians', revisionist history? Will Hovannisian or his successors plead for debate to be given a chance to show that the Armenians did not persecute the Turks and thus suffered justly, if at all? Will Miss Manjikian or her successors ask for penalties to be assessed against fellow Armenians who dare to challenge the Turks’ claims which will have become the official line and documented in all modern history books?

Who knows? Perhaps the scholar dedicated to truth is a figment of everybody’s imagination.