Comment 116297

By JonathanLambert (registered) | Posted February 01, 2016 at 08:17:29

In general, I do not usually make written replies to comments on articles; however, in this case Kirlikovali's comment is so problematic that I feel it needs to be addressed and clarified. In accordance with time constraints, the following paragraphs focus on four problems of Kirlikovali's comment. In his denial of genocide, Kirlikovali combines several logical fallacies, such as false dilemma and ad hominem attack, with complete falsehoods.

The first sentence of Kirlikovali's comment presents a false dilemma about claims being either political or factual. Kirlikovali states: “The claim of Armenian Genocide is political, not factual.” However, a claim may be “political” in the sense used by Lasswell (1936) and political science, and still be “factual” in accordance with standards used by historians. Indeed, most historians familiar with the massacres that took place against the Armenian people during and after 1915-1916 agree that, in accord with the standards used in their discipline, these events are constitutive of a genocide in which approximately 1.5 million people were slaughtered. Historian David Gutman (2015), for example, suggests that within the field of history since approximately 2011, the discussion has moved beyond a debate about whether or not the Armenian genocide occurred, as contemporary historians are investigating why this genocide occurred and how it was able to happen.

Then, in the second sentence of his comment, Kirlikovali appears to have confused sufficient and necessary conditions pertaining to a court verdict and the Armenian genocide. Kirlikovali asserts: “There is no court verdict that says Turkish-Armenian conflict is genocide”. Certainly, the occurrence of a genocide is a requirement for the corresponding court verdict, but the lack of this court verdict does not mean that the genocide did not occur. For example, had the Nazis surfaced as the winners of World War II, it is possible that there would be no court verdict on the Jewish genocide, but this lack of a court verdict would not mean that the genocide directed at the Jewish people did not take place.

Immediately following these logical fallacies, Kirlikovali's comment makes an ad hominem attack on non-Armenian people. Specifically, Kirlikovali calls non-Armenians who disagree with him: “those who prefer to take the baseless Armenian claims at face value”, but this directs his argument against people, rather than addressing their position, reasoning and evidence. In particular, in Kirlikovali's comment referring to an article clearly based on evidence and arguments in Michael Bobelian's (2009) book, Kirlikovali never once engages with any of the material in this book; he does not refer to Bobelian (2009) at all. In contrast, Kirlikovali simply asserts that people who disagree with him do not make their own informed judgements. Later in Kirlikovali's comments, the ad hominem attack is redirected against the Armenians themselves when he redeploys the overused label “treacherous Armenians”.

Some of Kirlikovali's claims are so clearly false they are absurd. On the one hand, Kirlikovali claims that “Armenians are only broadcasting their suffering”; however, many Armenians indeed address the suffering of others. For instance, Meline Toumani, who is ethnically Armenian and grew up in New Jersey and California, while discussing the Armenian genocide in her recent book There Was and There Was Not (2014), also addresses the horrors of slavery in North America, the genocide enacted against the Native Americans, and the recent devastation launched by the G. W. Bush administration. On the other hand, Kirlikovali claims that “[Armenians and people who acknowledge the 1915-1916 genocide] ignore the facts that Ottoman Armenians took up arms against their own government [sic]... killed their Turkish neighbors and other fellow citizens; and even joined the invading enemy (Russian) armies”; however, this claim is clearly false. For example, Ronald Grigor Suny, in his article called “Writing Genocide: The Fate of the Ottoman Armenians” (2011), does not ignore Armenian armed insurgency; in fact, he argues against blaming the 1915-1916 genocide on the Armenian political organizations, such as the isolated cases of organized, Armenian armed insurgency that emerged in Van and Dörtyol at the end of the Ottoman Empire.

Due to time constraints, in this brief reply I have outlined just four problems with Kirlikovali's recent comment about the Armenian genocide. Although history is a fascinating endeavor, unless this activity is accompanied by critical thought and an open mind, it can become a disaster in which history does repeat itself.

References

Bobelian, M. (2009). Children of Armenia: A Forgotten Genocide and the Century-long Struggle for Justice. Toronto: Simon and Schuster.

Gutman, D. (2015). Ottoman Historiography and the End of the Genocide Taboo: Writing the Armenian Genocide into Late Ottoman History. Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association. 2:1, 167-183.

Lambert, J. (2014, Apr. 28). Remembering the Armenian Genocide. Raise the Hammer.

Lasswell, H. D. (1936). Politics; Who Gets What, When, How. New York: Whittlesey house.

Suny, R. G. (2011). Writing Genocide: The Fate of the Ottoman Armenians. In R. G. Suny et. al.'s A Question of Genocide: Armenians and Turks at the End of the Ottoman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press.

Toumani, M. (2014). There Was and There Was Not: A Journey Through Hate and Possibility in Turkey, Armenia, and Beyond. New York: Metropolitan Books.

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