More Armenian ghosts (again)

arm91Trust me, I realize that what I am about to write falls into the "there he goes again, saying the same old things" category. I wish that wasn't the case, but I know that it is. That's OK. I still think that there are religion ghosts -- millions of them -- in all of that bitter debate about whether Turkey did or did not commit genocide against the nation's Armenians in the early 20th century.

Yes, ethnicity was a major factor. Yes, politics was involved. But so was the ancient Christian faith of the Armenian Orthodox and the unique, at times mysterious, "secular" brand of Islam advocated by the Turks. To say otherwise is simply bizarre.

The situation is, of course, horribly complex and emotional. Disputes mixing money, religion, politics and ethnicity usually are. But it doesn't help to gouge the soul out of this still bleeding body.

If you doubt what I am saying, try running a Google search for this hame -- "Hrant Dink." Or just click here, scroll down, and read a bit. Then read some more.

However, if you click here and read a recent Los Angeles Times report about the genocide debate, you will learn absolutely nothing about the role that religion has played in this old, old story that is now haunting the White House. This isn't a conflict that includes a religion angle, don't you know? Here's the top of this haunted report:

The Obama administration is hesitating on a promised presidential declaration that Armenians were the victims of genocide in the early 20th century, fearful of alienating Turkey when U.S. officials badly want its help.

President Obama and other top administration officials pledged during the presidential campaign to officially designate the 1915 killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks as genocide. Many Armenian Americans, who are descendants of the victims and survivors, have long sought such a declaration.

But the administration also has been soliciting Ankara's help on Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and other security issues amid Turkish warnings that an official U.S. statement would imperil Turkey's assistance. Administration officials are considering postponing a presidential statement, citing progress toward a thaw in relations between Turkey and neighboring Armenia.

So, what was the alleged genocide all about? Here is one chunk of facts from this report:

An estimated 1.5 million Armenians were victims of planned killings by the Ottoman Turks as the empire was dissolving during World War I, an episode historians have concluded was a genocide. But Turkey and some of its supporters contend that the deaths resulted from civil war and unrest and that their numbers were exaggerated. ...

Obama declared repeatedly during his campaign that the killings were genocide. Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton are on record with similar positions. But the Obama administration would like to use Turkey as part of the military supply line for Afghanistan. It also would like more help regarding Iraq, Iran's nuclear program, Russia and Mideast peace.

The current government of Turkey is very nervous about this issue. This is no surprise. But why?

The bottom line question: Is this simply about nationalism and ethnic pride? Really? Read the story and try to find even a hint that there is more to the conflict than that.

Photo: The Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan, Armenia.

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