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Letters to the Editor | page 1, 2

Turko-Armenian war brews in the Ivory Tower

Say it like it is: Armenian genocide. Not massacres, horrors, alleged massacres, deportations, civil war, etc. Impartial journalism does not mean that you need to present a lie to balance every truth.

-- Rafi Kalachian

I am a Turkish-American and I am sure my views will also be looked upon with a certain wariness, but I do not subscribe to the idea that I am disqualified from objectivity by my ethnicity.

First, at the very beginning of the article, you seem to reach a conclusion -- "The central Armenian experience of the 20th century, after all, was the death of as many as 1.5 million Armenians ..." and "Every neutral scholar agrees that the Turkish position is propaganda."

The United States helped to sponsor war propaganda against Turkey during World War I as part of an official campaign to smear its enemies, as it did with Germany. Part of this propaganda was the evil butchery of the Turks against the defenseless Christian Armenians. This is what has been rooted in the popular memory of America, with very few Turkish-Americans to combat the insinuations of savagery, yet this is not propaganda?

As far as I could see from the article, every non-Armenian scholar in the field believes it is an open question whether this event was a genocide. Is it the claim of the article that all of these people are tainted by the tentacles of the Turkish government? If not, then why is it not pointed out that no one outside of the "Armenian position" believes it is a genocide? Why is it assumed that the "Turkish studies side" has the burden of proof in overturning the verdict of Turkish guilt? It is because of the underlying assumption that despite what these people in "Turkish studies" say, there must have been a genocide.

I once asked a professor of mine who taught a class on the laws of war and war crimes at Columbia Law School to deprogram me from all the propaganda I had received growing up Turkish. I asked him to please find me evidence of the genocide by neutral scholars so I could know the truth.

After investigating the issue, he came back and said that he could not find one non-Armenian scholar who believed this was a genocide, but since "it looked like a duck, it walked like a duck and it talked like a duck, it must be a duck." If that's not the product of excellent propaganda, I don't know what is.

-- Cenk Uygur

To observers of corporate involvement in academia, the situation in Turkish studies provides a sneak preview of what to expect. For instance, regarding the Princeton chair funded by Turkey, Shea writes that the appointee, Heath Lowry, "had advised Turkish diplomats on how to respond to Armenian criticism of Turkey." Actually, Lowry had ghostwritten a letter from the Turkish ambassador attacking the Jewish scholar Robert Jay Lifton for mentioning the Armenian genocide in his book "The Nazi Doctors." This despite the fact that Lowry privately acknowledged that Lifton was merely, and quite justifiably, referencing existing literature.

Lowry's willingness to set aside his professional ethics on behalf of Turkey's interests did not go unrewarded. He was appointed to a Turkish-funded chair at Princeton despite the lack of tangible credentials for such a post: He had never held a full-time position at an American university, nor had a book published in a mainstream academic press.

My Web site provides details on the issue.

-- Gregory T. Arzoomanian
Providence, R.I.

The really new economy: Red Hat's IPO

Andrew Leonard completely misses the point of Red Hat's business when he cites a "big potential problem" for the software company's financial future. Leonard implies that the company could lose a major source of income if future customers have access to the kind of bandwidth that will allow them to download the software for free, rather than buying the CD. Red Hat's business model is geared toward giving the software away for free in earnest -- the $40-$80 price you pay for the package is for support and documentation, two commodities that will be just as important to users well into the age of ubiquitous high-speed Internet access.

-- K. Ellis


Mary Elizabeth William's review of John Sayles' new film "Limbo" accuses the film of not having an ending. The film ends exactly where it should, because the story John Sayles was trying to tell was over. The movie is not about the main characters hiding from the mobsters and it's not about their efforts to return to civilization. It's about three people finding their way out of emotional limbo, and this story is resolved in the last shot of the film. What happens after that shot does not affect the story Sayles was telling. Whether the characters in "Limbo" die right away or whether they die after decades of wedded bliss, the fact is they are going to die. What Sayles is trying to get us to see is that no matter what happens in the future, these people have regained their lives and are no longer in a state of limbo.

-- Sean Varney
Seattle | June 16, 1999

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