I must be in the mood to comment on politics this week! Just now I found in the Times that Turkey is furious with France for criminalizing the denial of the Armenian genocide, an atrocity so indisputably documented that even Wikipedia writes (in the lede!) that it was the “systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire”. Turkey has a long history of denying this, of course, since it is almost a century old now and still unacknowledged. So this news is to be expected. The official response speaks in Turkey’s defense:
Turkey contends that Armenians were not the victims of systematic killings and argues that no more than 500,000 Armenians died, noting that many Turks also perished during those years of war.
I myself have (almost literally) a graduate-level degree in splitting verbal hairs, not only from doing math but also from reading Robert Jordan. Thus I can say with confidence that Turkey has declared that:
- They (or rather the Ottoman Empire of which they were the principal part) killed Armenians, though not necessarily systematically.
- They killed half a million Armenians (as compared to the recognized total of two to three times that many).
It should also perhaps be noted that the Armenian population would, if allowed, have been part of the Ottoman army, but in fact, all the deaths were civilians. Thus even the number of 500,000 that Turkey considers to be acceptably low is atrocious, even if the Ottomans themselves did not kill these people and instead “merely” allowed them to die somehow as a result of warfare.
Not what I would call a stinging comeback.