BY SHUNT JARCHAFJIAN
In recent weeks we have seen and heard much about the need to address the historical vestiges of tyranny. For some it might mean taking down statues of confederate leaders, the renaming of sports franchises, or the rebranding of Aunt Jemima pancake syrup. I for one decided to view this issue from the perspective of an Armenian. It meant addressing the misinformation campaigns run by the governments of Turkey and Azerbaijan.
Armenian Genocide denial comes in many forms. From chartered planes flying banners with denialist statements over our yearly protest at the Turkish Embassy to junk websites spewing the denialist rhetoric of the republic of turkey. One of the most dangerous forms of genocide denial is when we see it surface in academia.
Every year the government of Turkey spends millions of dollars on a failed campaign to deny the Armenian genocide. The dollars are funneled through think tanks, lobbyists, marketing groups, and institutions that fund academics. Its no secret that Turkey spent millions to fund “the Institute of Turkish Studies” to act as an academic front for the Turkish state.
Funding academia to rewrite and revise history is a sad attempt to hide the Republic of Turkey’s own culpability. Funding Turkish studies chairs at American universities and issuing grants to “historians” serves one purpose only, to buy history. There are certain “academics” who have earned a name for themselves by catering to the Turkish state’s denialist agenda by publishing “history” books that aim to undermine genocide recognition efforts and promote hate.
Interestingly enough, this problem is not one unique to Armenians. I recently read an article in the Jewish Chronicle about how Jewish interest groups pressured Amazon to remove literature that denied the holocaust.
The books referenced in the article were removed, but Amazon did not make an official statement acknowledging the removal.
I was curious to see if literature denying the Armenian Genocide was being sold on Amazon. Usually such books have vague and misleading titles such as “Armenian history and the question of genocide,” or “The story behind Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story.” I didn’t need to search much until I stumbled upon the most blatant of all genocide denial books, “Armenian Genocide, A Big Lie” by Dr. A.N. Cora.
Here it was, fictitious denialist propaganda, being sold by the world’s largest bookseller, right alongside books written by reputable historians. It should be a crime to cut a tree to print this garbage.
Searching for literature on the topic of the Armenian Genocide such not yield fiction published by genocide deniers.
On June 12th I sent an email to Jeff Bezos that read in part:
”When searching for literature on the Armenian Genocide, Amazon.com search results yield many books authored by Genocide denialists and historical revisionist who wish to peddle hate-inspiring propaganda. Every day that this literature is available and promoted by Amazon.com is another day that Amazon is profiting from the trade in titles promoting Genocide denial and Anti-Armenian conspiracies and myths.
The Armenian Genocide is thoroughly researched and well-documented. Denying it is simply offensive and serves to kindle hate and anti-Armenian sentiments.
Amazon has policies to address offensive material and products that promote, incite, or glorify hate or violence towards any person or group.
Many authors of hate literature use misleading and deceptive titles, intentionally making it harder to separate from honest scholarly works. Those who wish to inflict pain on the survivors of genocide do not want to see any road blocks to the dissemination of hate literature.
I hope Amazon holds true to its stated principles and makes the appropriate changes necessary to address this issue. Now more than ever we must come together and better understand each other as human beings, and there is no substitute for having a foundation of knowledge based on Truth”
I soon received the following reply from someone on the Tech Support Executive Customer Relations team: “Jeff Bezos received your email and I’m responding on his behalf.”
About a week later the title was no longer listed on Amazon.
Unlike the article In the Jewish Chronicle, where Amazon did not acknowledge that it had removed the title, Amazon wrote back on June 30th stating:
“Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention and your patience while we further reviewed this title.
The book you mentioned, “The Armenian Genocide, A Big Lie” by Dr. A.N. Cora, has been removed from our website.
If there are any other specific titles you would like us to review, please reply to this email.
Thanks for choosing Amazon.”
I would like to praise Amazon in taking quick action to address the issue. I hope that they will take similar action on other titles that I have recommended for review.
I call on my compatriots to join in the fight for truth and justice. Our cause is not one championed by others. The Armenian Cause needs a new generation of guardians. We must strengthen the progress made by past generations and ensure that we do not lose ground in our fight against crimes against humanity. One person and a few emails can make a difference. There are many other fronts to this battle, from combating the destruction of our cemeteries and khachkars in Nakhichevan, to ensuring that consumers make informed decisions when confronted by Turkish products. The purchase of these products serves to enrich the Republic of Turkey and enable it to prolong its occupation of Western Armenia and its centuries long destruction of our cultural heritage. Lamenting about injustice is just as simple as taking action, so instead of just complaining, take action next time your confronted by something on the internet or in your local grocery store.