Why Is Turkey So Invested In Denying The Armenian Genocide?

What does Turkey have to gain by going to such extreme measures to deny the Armenian genocide? If they hated the Armenians so much then, and continue to hate them so much now, then from where I sit they should just take the Donald Trump approach and say “Those fuckers deserved it, we’d do it again if we felt the need.”

This is absolutely abject. On the other hand, Turkey under its valiant leader craves to become a more feared power in the region.

I’m just speculating here but perhaps the concern is that if they acknowledge genocide was the final step in an ongoing campaign of general intolerance, there would be pressure to stop the general intolerance.

Modern Turkey wanted to follow the European model of ethnic states, where each ethnicity has its country and each country has its ethnicity. As opposed to the Ottoman model of an empire united under Islam with many peoples. Accepting their own culpability and that of their antecessors would mean recognizing the diversity of Turkey. Which they didn’t want to do in the beginning because of their opposition to the Ottomans. It’s been carried forward ever since.

This is mine understanding of internal Turkish politics, which is poor at best.

It’s a combination of ethnic hatred, the dead weight of so many years of denial and coverup, and the lack of real consequences for failure to acknowledge the truth.

Well, a few things:

  1. That wasnt Turkey, that was the Ottoman Empire. A reasonable point.

  2. There was a war going on.The deaths were a result of that war. No doubt some were.

  3. Altho many excesses occured, there is some argument it wasnt actually a planned "genocide’. That term is certainly overused. Genocides have to be planned and systematic. wiki The Republic of Turkey’s formal stance is that the deaths of Armenians during the “relocation” or “deportation” cannot aptly be deemed “genocide”, a position that has been supported with a plethora of diverging justifications: that the killings were not deliberate or systematically orchestrated; that the killings were justified because Armenians posed a Russian-sympathizing threat as a cultural group; that the Armenians merely starved to death, or any of various characterizations referring to marauding “Armenian gangs”. However, I think that the Armenian issue did rise to a “genocide” .

  4. That was over 100 years ago, what’s the point now?

I think the key reason is the Ataturk and the other “young Turks” who went on to found the modern Turkish nation were deeply complicit in the genocide (it was a foreshadowing of nationalist genocide of the 20th century, not a throwback to religious genocide of previous centuries)

What do they have to gain from admitting it?

What’s the end game?

Or would it just be an opening for nations with their own atrocities to slap them around?

It’s not so much what they have to gain, but what they have to lose - they don’t want to be known as a country that commits genocide, and admitting they are would lose them international standing and likely open them up to lawsuits or similar actions on behalf of the victims. Note that while the US isn’t as aggressive about denial, the US doesn’t embrace it’s history of genocide against Natives, even though active attempts to eradicate Native cultures persisted much later than the Armenian Genocide.

And see, that’s why that term is overused. Whatever the decimation of the Native American populace what, it was not in any way shape or form 'planned and systematic". So, not Genocide. It was accidental and happenstance. Yes, there were a occasional one time local planned elimination, but the haphazard battles and 99.999% unplanned pandemics which were the primary cause of the Indian eliminations do not rise to the definition of “genocide”. I mean it went on over 400 years, often with the Natives attacking the settlers.

The boarding schools? Yes, today those look horrible. But then, they honestly thought they were doing what was best for the natives. So- NOT “genocide”.

Did you read either of the links I provided? The attempts to destroy Native cultures was very much planned and systemic, and only ended in the late 1970s, long after the Armenian genocide in Turkey was over.

Attempting to destroy a people’s culture, language, and religion through forced schooling where their children receive physical punishment for even speaking in their own language, then sending them back to their former homes where they’re expected to push the changes to the rest of their population is most definitely an attempt to destroy that group as a specific entity. Raphel Lemkin, who coined the term, stated " By ‘genocide’ we mean the destruction of an ethnic group. Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups…."

Using the excuse that they thought that forcing people to give up their own religion, language, and culture was for their own good is nonsense. Hitler thought he was doing what was best for humanity, so if that’s all it takes to excuse it, nothing counts as genocide. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and claiming ‘white man’s burden’ doesn’t change the fact that deliberately attempting to eliminate a culture entirely is bad.

I agree with this assessment. IMHO Turkey would do themselves a favor by just admitting it was genocide, mistakes were made, the factors around the war, etc., and then quickly move past it. By continuing to invest in it’s denial, their reputation is getting smeared as well by appearing as heartless genocide deniers, especially as more info emerges, and doing so makes it more difficult to normalize relations with Armenia and it’s allies and diaspora.

Raphael Lemkin invented the word genocide specifically to describe what Turkey did to the Armenians.

Culture? Genocide is destroying the people.

I mean, based on that American TV is committing genocide on a daily basis. GB commited genocide for centuries by suppressing gaelic and welsh. And so forth. The word loses all meaning.

Hitler, by no means thought he was doing what was best for the Jewish people, in fact the opposite.

Umm, no.

He moved to Washington, DC, in the summer of 1942, to join the War Department as an analyst and went on to document Nazi atrocities in his 1944 book, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe . In this text, he introduced the word “genocide.”


It was only after learning about the crimes that the Ottoman Empire committed against the Armenians during World War I, and about how the perpetrators of those crimes went unpunished, that he was inspired to act. He was outraged, and could not believe that there was no legal precedent for punishing perpetrators of such terrible crimes. Lemkin was the first person to describe the massacres of Ottoman Armenians as genocide.

The very idea of “cultural genocide” is problematic. I don’t mean that in the cheap and pathetic modern way, which is to vaguely criticize something without actually saying whether it really good or bad, I mean that it is logically incoherent. Cultures are always changing, growing, shrinking, thriving, and dying. There is no such thing as a pure one, and no culture lasts infinitely although some can last indefinitely.

The question of how much force a stronger cultural group can or should use upon a weaker one, and where that line is morally speaking is a strong question. However, that should never EVER be confused with, y’know, actual murder. And the phrase “Cultural Genocide” is a cheap ploy to try and use some of repulsion of actual murderous violence against much lesser acts. Though be it granted that some countries have covered up real genocides with pretensions of simply promoting national unity in some way. It appears that China is doing just that to the Uigur people right now.

That is true. But he only came up with the word after seeing the Nazi Genocide, in 1944.

Yes. And systematically using force to deliberately destroy the language, family structure, religion, and all other aspects of culture to turn the people from a distinct group into a different people is exactly what I’m talking about.

No one is being taken away from their families and being forced to watch American TV, or having law enforcement officers come to their homes to break their families apart if they live in their traditional family structure instead of Western-style marriages.

But he thought it was what was best for humanity as a whole, and that’s what’s important, right? It’s not whether you force people at gunpoint to give up their religion, language, customs, and even names, it’s whether you think you’re doing good or not!

It’s not logically incoherent. If cultures change, grow, and shrink because of what the people in the culture decide, that’s cultures developing. If a stronger group takes a smaller group and uses physical force to compel them to adopt a different religion, language, family structure, names, and the like, with the explicit and stated goal of wiping out their original culture entirely, then it’s something entirely different. Even if they say it’s for the good of the people who’s identity they are actively trying to destroy. It’s not a cheap ploy, it’s a recognition of an active and systemic effort to destroy the existence of a particular group by forcing them to stop all of the cultural practices that make them a distinct group.