Some countries are so upset by Holocaust deniers that they make it a crime. There have been calls to do the same in Britain but we have, luckily, avoided such a heavy-handed and grandstanding approach to the freedom of speech of idiots, Simon Heffer wrote in his article, published in the International Business Times.
We prefer to see people who deny the Nazi genocide as idiots – or something stronger – and in a very British way content ourselves that the obloquy, contempt and derision such people heap upon themselves by expressing their offensive views is punishment enough, and comes free of charge, the author says.
It is disputed to this day by Turkey that its Ottoman forebears conducted a genocide against the Armenians in 1915.
Armenians see this as their Holocaust and when an entire nation denies it happened, it is denial on a truly grand and awesome scale. Imagine how the Jews would feel if the present German republic itself – not just handfuls of mentally disturbed anti-Semites – said there had been no German-led genocide against the Jews, and you will understand how the Armenians and those who sympathise with them feel about Turkey, a state about to celebrate 100 years of denial, the author notes.
The historical consensus is that 1.5 million Armenians were murdered. Many countries recognise this as an act of genocide. So too did Pope John Paul II, who issued a declaration in 2001 saying as much. Francis chose to quote his predecessor-but-one’s words: but it still upset the Turks, who immediately recalled their ambassador to the Vatican and demanded the Vatican’s man in Ankara come and explain himself, the article notes.
The Vatican, which is also keen to see a diminution of the conflict in that region, wants good relations with the Turks too, but not, to judge from Francis’s remarks, at the expense of pretending not to notice Turkey’s responsibility for an outrage that happened just outside living memory, the author says.
Armenia itself is building up to a formal commemoration of the genocide on 24 April. Last week, Kim Kardashian and her sister Khloe were in Yerevan to lay flowers at a memorial to the victims: the whole performance was captured on the sisters’ reality TV show, so anyone out there who is not aware of this atrocity may soon be alerted to it.
The author highlights that the combination of the Kardashians and the Pope adds up to a PR disaster for Turkey, at a time when in every other respect it is trying to show itself to be a responsible and progressive member of the family of civilised nations.