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‘Critical Thinking’ or Genocide Denial? TCA vs. U. of Minn

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.—On Nov. 30, the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA), together with first-year university student Sinan Cingilli, originally from Turkey, sued the university for posting a list of “unreliable websites” on its Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (CHGS) website. The list of websites deemed unreliable to the study of genocide—because they promoted genocide denial—included that of the TCA.

The TCA website's section on the 'Armenian Issue' is a textbook example of the relativization, trivialization, and blatant denial of genocide.

On Dec. 17, the university asked the Minnesota District Court to dismiss the case brought forth by the TCA against the university.

The TCA has until Jan. 10 to respond to the University of Minnesota, as ruled by U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank. Once they receive the TCA’s response, the university has until Jan. 24 to reply. The hearing is scheduled to take place on Feb. 4.

According to the Minnesota Daily, the lawsuit has seven charges, including ones relating to freedom of speech, due process, and defamation.

The lawsuit also targets University President Robert Bruininks and Prof. Bruno Chaouat, the director of CHGS.

The hearing is likely to take place at the U.S. courthouse in St. Paul. The proceedings are open to the public. The dates may be rescheduled at short notice, but will be posted on the daily calendar.

The university removed the list before the suit was brought forth, but insisted the decision was made prior to the court case.

In an open letter posted on the CHGS website, Chaouat wrote that his motive to remove the list of “unreliable websites” was to refrain from giving those sites any publicity. “My rationale was quite simple: never promote, even negatively, sources of illegitimate information,” he wrote.

Chaouat went on to note that the center, “in accordance with the vast majority of serious and rigorous historians…considers the massacre of the Armenians during World War I as a case of genocide.”

“The decision to remove the links to ‘unreliable websites’ was made before the Turkish Coalition of America began its efforts to intimidate CHGS into removing the links,” wrote Chaouat. This latter statement brought forth another defamation charge.

“Intimidation by filing a lawsuit might be believable if we were a great big corporation and he was a little guy somewhere, but the fact is that [Chaouat represents] a major state university. As a matter of law, you can’t be charged with intimidation for filing a lawsuit; that’s everybody’s legal right,” the local counsel for the plaintiff, Larry Frost, was quoted as saying.

Reportedly, TCA is claiming it has no idea why it was placed on the “unreliable websites” list. Cingilli has claimed that “The point of the case is to remove obstacles to free, critical thinking.”

Bruce Fein from the Turkish American Legal Defense Fund has reportedly claimed that the CHGS was influenced by its donors, which include Armenian organizations.

Although the list has been removed, there is still a “warning to researchers” box on the center’s “curriculum models” page that states: “Students and researchers should be aware that there is a proliferation of websites operated by Holocaust and genocide deniers that CHGS and others in the academic community consider unreliable…”

“As a legal matter we didn’t find anything defamatory or inconsistent with academic freedom in that little box. There was no restriction on free speech,” Mark Rotenberg, the university general counsel, was quoted as saying. “This organization is trying to convert an academic, political, and historical debate into a lawsuit, and that’s not right.”

28 Comments on ‘Critical Thinking’ or Genocide Denial? TCA vs. U. of Minn

  1. If the judge has any common sense at all, which most judges do not have these days, this absurd suit will be dismissed, and the plaintiffs forced to pay the university’s attorney’s fees.

  2. What is rhis? Don’t we have any lawyers? Why are they sitting on their brains? Can’t we bombard them with a thousand lawquits and counterlawsuits? Shame on our lawyers! They look like a bunch of fuddy-duddys. And you, too, Armenian Weekly. don’t just report and wipe your mouth. Do something! Encourage dialogues!. Entice people! Be a leader. I am sick and tired of Turks beating us to the punch, getting there first! Americans don’t give a crap about Armenians. We have to do it ourselves. Hey, Mr. lawyer, what did you do? just waste lawschool classroom space? Get off your butt and sue the hell out everyone in sight!

  3.   I believe that any reasonable court will find this case to be completly without merit. The Turks and their supporters are learning how the process works in the western world. They are more active , but with the same worn out argument. Regardless, we need to continue to be vigilent as the deniers continue their last desparate attempt to convince a world, that too often placates criminal behavior, that the murder of 1 1/2 million Armenians and the theft of a homeland was a circumstance of war and rebellion.
           I am confident that this absurd action will be denied, but it is intended also to drain our resources and gain a few “neutral”observers.  Remember Turkish deniers…. you will be confronted by the sons and daughters of the victims of your criminal act on every stage in the world.

  4. Dave,

    Your comment is not only biased, but clearly racist and subjective as well! Perhaps we should also dismiss the frivolous suits made by Armenian dashanks, just because we don’t happen to “agree” with them! Try to be more objective and make an attempt to learn as much as you can about the other side’s point of view! Remember, not ever person who has an opposing viewpoint to yours is a “whack job”!

  5. Robert, the “other side’s point of view” is a lie meant to consolidate gains from genocide. It is full of logical inconsistencies as well as selective use of distorted sources. It does not deserve the legitimacy of being called the “opposing viewpoint” in a “debate.”
     
    If you would provide me your email address, I’ll happily engage you in a critique of Uras, McCarthy, Shaw, etc., as I’ve read all of their works.
     
    For now, just ask yourself: if Armenians according to the above website were a dispersed “minority” in eastern Anatolia, how could they credibly cause over a million Muslim deaths, at a time when they were being deported or forced to work in labor camps? “Intercommunal war” implies co-equal belligerents. How could an Armenian minority, which was either being deported or conscripted, challenge the fully mobilized Ottoman armed forces, which were capable of battling the Allies for four years? Where would such an ambitious Armenian army be trained, acquire sufficient firepower, establish a command or control system? Why didn’t the German or Austro-Hungarian army intervene to save their ally which was being ‘torn apart’ from within?
     
    Secondly, if Armenians were “revolting” starting in 1880, as the above website claims, why did they celebrate on the streets with the Young Turks in 1908?
     
    You’re not a whack job. But you do seem willfully ignorant.

  6.    Robert, we are quite familiar with the nature of your comments , but I would to correct you on one point. You and other Turks on this post have often labeled anything with our national interests as “Dashnaks”. Your tone seems to suggest that this is some sort of isolated and out of touch segment of the community.
              It is absolutely true that the Dashnaks have been the standardbearer of Armenian national interests for decades and have essentially been responsible for keeping Armenian nationalism alive in the diaspora(apparently your worst nightmare). They have also been responsible for popularizing Armenian national issues. As a result today, the Armenan community is well informed and active in these issues. I can understand why you try to label them as such. They are responsible for motivating and enabling our community to a relentless pursuit of justice. You and both know that it is a ridiculous stunt for the Turks to use litigation. It is another dimension of your continuing mentality of denial actions. 

  7. How is that racist in any way shape or form, Robert? And yes, this lawsuit is frivolous because it tramples the university’s freedom of speech. Mr. Cingilli wants to be objective? There’s nothing ‘objective’ about websites that promote genocide denial.

  8. Let them sue, let them show their face.  More they they bring it up more people learn about them.  It will be another opportunity to get them slapped in the court.

  9. Robert, even a turkey can apply to the courts in the USA… who, any, can do the same in a turkey? Manooshag

  10. Please let Turks sue and lose. It is unfortunate that the scum Gunther Lewy’s law suit was settled even though Lewy stood to lose that suit. University of Minnesota isn’t going to make that same mistake,.

  11. @ Robert,
     
    Lets be clear: Only Turks and a handful of their “Turkish governmental paid scholars” are the only ones with “opposing viewpoints”. Since in reality the grand majority of CREDIBLE HISTORIANS AND MOST ALL ARCHIVAL MATERIAL ALL OVER THE WORLD already attest to the facts of the Armenian Genocide, maybe Dave is right in assuming anyone believing that there is a legitimate “apposing view” like you is correct to be deemed a “whack job”.
     
     

  12. To all responding posters:

    First of all, you must all understand something. If one is not an Armenian, one can not be totally free in their viewpoint expressions on this site, for to do otherwise is to risk censorship and deletion by the editorial board (however, to his credit, I sent an e-mail to Mr. Muridian of the board, and he has so far, allowed a couple of my recent posts to go through, sans censorship. For this couragous act, he is to be commended). 

    Manooshag,

    In the English language, the correct grammar to employ when discussing a nation or their people, is to capitalize the first letter of the name of said country and people. Please employ this in the future. In addition, your attempts at making fun of Turkey is quite childish, and thus is undeservent of a response.

    Alex,

    I respect your views. You say that you’ve read all of the books. I must assume then that this would include Armenia’s first President’s Manifesto, the works of Gurun, Goltz, de Waal, Reisman, Houterman, Sonyel, Mango…just to name a few. If this is truly the case, then in addition to all of these books which you have read, the following question comes to mind in response to your comments…Did you read the entire book(s) or just flip through the pages? If you indeed read them in detail, then did you truly understand what you read? If you HAD read all of these books, as you claim, then you should be able to easily answer the very questions which you have posed (the answers can all be located in them)! Having said that, you would then realize that these facts are not, as you state, lies. This only shows that you are a denialist! You also talk about debates. We have invited Armenians to a debate, in a public forum, with full media coverage, for at least a decade. Each time it was refused! Your vehement refusals to establish the Historical Commission (as per the Protocol agreements), as well as refusing to open your two archives (in Boston and Yerevan), further attests to this point. 

    Stepan,

    Your comments are about my usage of the term Dashnaks. Unfortunately, I have written about this on many ocaissions, but the editorial board kept censoring and deleting those posts. Might I suggest that you contact your editorial board and request that they release and post my writings dealing with this matter/topic. Anything I write now will, in all probability, be censored and deleted (not because it contains any vulgarities [you all know me well enough by this time to know that I don’t use profanity], but because it contains the truth). Believe me, know that I can indeed answer your question and comments if given half a chance.

    Chris,

    You mention “freedom of speech”. Can you then explain to us all how my freedom of speech on this site has constantly been trampled upon, yet no one on this site sees the obvious violations (or possibly even cares)? More importantly however, consider the freedom of speech and expresion so blatently denied the Turkish Studies Program at UCLA (which had all been arranged and ready to commence), by the university’s board of regents. One of the members of the BOR later said that it was due to intense pressure and even personal threats from an “unstated source” (undeniably from the Armenian diaspora of Southern California). Why has Turkey, Azerbaijan and their peoples been denied due process in the US Congress by “certain members of the House and Senate”? I could go on and on, but I believe that you get the picture by this time.

    Armen,

    Your comments are obviously based on wishful thinking! Again, I have written about this topic before, and again the editorial board deleted them. You’ll need to ask them to release my posts so as to get my answer.

    John,

    Your very post defines your prejudiced and hate-filled character. It’s simply not worth a response. Please reference some neutral texts so as to learn something!   

  13. @ Robert
    Again only turks and few “paid historians” have an altered view of reality. The rest of the world, including most all archives and most all CREDIBLE HISTORIANS and all ALL GENOCIDE SCHOLARS, already know what happened Armenians during the Armenian Genocide. The Armenian Genocide is the 2nd most studied genocide ever. It is not in doubt. As there are ‘scholars” who claim the Holocaust didn’t happen, there are Turks who claim the genocide didn’t happen? Doesn’t make it so.
    Clown, worry about your own occupying government that bans anyone who disagrees with the Turkish fairy tale story of it’s past but instead you come here and cry for “freedom of speech”? how self serving?
    Also if you noticed its been 95 years since you turks decided to liquidate the christian population and of course steal their lands and wealth. This isn’t going to go away anytime soon. It is only a matter of time.
    Last: I can care less if you rebut here or ever come on this blog again. I can care less about your “friendship, understanding or dialogue”.
    Thanks for the laugh clown!

  14. @ Robert
    in 2005 the ICTJ, International Center for Transitional Justice, was asked BY BOTH TURKS AND ARMENIANS to conclude on the events of 1915.
    GOOGLE IT!
    The ICTJ deemed it as GENOCIDE AND SAID ANY REFERENCE TO IT AS GENOCIDE WAS CORRECT.
    Turks just ignored that ruling and kept the usual lies of how the Armenian refuse a “historical commission”.
     
    Is there nothing you turks don’t lie about?

  15. Robert the turk, I’ll capitalize when your leaderships are worthy… when your muslim leaderships join the civilized nations of the world… face their guilt and reparations and more are made to the Armenian nation… only when a turkey is a true democracy… recognized as a civilized nation amongst the nations of the world – in a NATO, in the EU.  Instead of the nation who HISTORICALLY excels  at perpetrating Genocides from 19th, 20th, and today 21st centuries… bullying and using PLOYs to deceit, distract and even  assaulting the American President Woodrow Wilson’s memorium – in Washington DC, United States of America – actually invading the capital city of the USA… as bullies… who must do what they must do, to wherever, however, to WHOMever… Too,  as turks would  say:  ‘the greatest ally of a USA is turkey… TRUTH: greatest ally turkey ever had was the USA! Manooshag
    Imagine if such an ‘invasion’ by Americans came into a turkey and ‘assaulted’ your turkish heroes – leaders of the turkish Genocide of the Armenians!! Manooshag
     
     

  16. @ Robert. Why aren’t you worried about “Freedom of Speech” in your beloved homeland Turkey. Article 301. Hypocrisy at its best.

  17. In 2009 OC Weekly Columnist Gustavo Arellano quoted incoming President elect of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) Ergun Kirlikovali as threatening to sue anyone who affirmed the Armenian Genocide:

    “‘Just like anti-Semitism is quickly identified, condemned, litigated, and punished, all within the confines of the law, so shall be anti-Turkism. Next time you say genocide, you’d better be prepared to prove it with a court order, just like Nuremberg’s, otherwise you might be served one,’ Kirlikovali warns. Any statement on the Armenian genocide that doesn’t conform to Kirlikovali’s twisted “truth”, he adds, ‘shall be challenged down to its last comma and period. Period!'”

    For his part, Mr. Kirlikovali has established a fat internet presence, stuffed with un- believable Nazi-style racism directed against Armenains, such as:  the Armenian dead of 1915 remind him of a joke he knows concerning the death of a fly; “anti-Turks” [i.e. Armenians] killed Hrant Dink, and that the average Armenian of today wishes to kill any random Turk on sight.  Oh,I forgot; this overstuffed Southern Californian says that Armenian Americans are too duplicitous to serve in the American armed forces
    , which of course he never did. (Tell this to Ernest der Vishian [Congressional Medal of Honor, Anzio] Victor Maghakian [Navy Cross,  Makin Island, Marine Raider Battalion] or Harry Kizirian [Sixth Marines, Okinawa].

    I assume that Mr. Kirlikovali and his fellow junior Nazis – like Robert, above – want freedom of expression here chilled if not frozen to death, just as Section 301 does that job to free speech in Turkey, a place, by the way, where Mr.Kirlikovali decided not to live, long ago.  Good selection, Ergun.

     In this instance, Turks have brought  a lawsuit having no chance of  success on the merits, but perhaps a chance at scaring Universities by the threat of expensive lawsuits.   Another probable purpose is to invade the privacy of scholars.

    There is a good chance the case will be thrown out. But the Nazi Turks’ desire to use their money and influence to muzzle humanity will persist.  And so we must persist and overcome these enemies of truth and humanity, who compare innocent civilians killed by state actors to a joke about vermin.  

  18. Robert,
    Please indulge me and answer my questions by yourself. PS de Waal affirms the facts and calls them genocide. Also, your citing 7 (unknown, let’s be frank) historians to try to create the impression of scholarly debate is weak. I can cite to you the 126 Holocaust scholars who affirmed the incontestable facts of the Armenian genocide in the NYT on 9 June 2000. Not to mention the ICTJ, IAGS, etc. etc. I’ve asked you questions to prove your case; you have not answered them. As I said–willfully ignorant.
    This nonsense about the archives needs to stop. Armenia has opened its archives (http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=armenian-archive-chief-invites-turkish-historians-2010-04-22); it is not responsible for a group in Boston. By contrast, it is Turkey which has not opened the most important archives–those of the Ottoman military during WWI. This was told personally to me by Eric Friedler, director of the acclaimed German documentary Aghet, which itself is full of irrefutable evidence. And last time I checked, Armenia signed the protocols and is ready to ratify them when Turkey drops its preconditions.

  19. dearest robert…
    i can’t help but feel your pain, and the pain of the rest of the turks who much like you have become the victim of slanderous attacks by the contemptuous greedy armenians,
    what can be said about a bunch of nomad armenians migrating westward from their arid mongolian plains, acquiring culture and embracing christianity in the midst of the persians, gathering momentum in syria, attacking your indigenous turkish people who lived around mount ararat for thousands of years, forcing their religion on you in return for social privileges and  marginalizing you as a minority “millet”, and eventually forcing you out of your lands to the syrian desert in an orchestrated state organized crime that the civilized world has dubbed “GENOCIDE”… and denying your suffering for over 95 years…
    and now your greater turky is 90% of what it used to be, and most of you turks scattered through-out the world, and as if that is not bad enough, armenia continues to blockade your borders in an attempt to choke your economy and suffocate you out of existence, all the while claiming to be god fearing, civilized people worthy of becoming a member of the democratic EU…
    the armenians are truly a terrible people, what can i do as an alternative armenian to beg your forgiveness and extend the hand of friendship…

    either you are well paid by your criminal bosses, the real benefactors from the elimination of the armenians from the “osmanian inheritance” or you are an incredible fool

    i am so glad that you have mastered the command of the english language/grammar, too bad you haven’t done the same about your humanity and sense of justice

  20. Hayrenaser, you vile puppet of the enemy!  You have violated article “shut-up” and will be prosecuted for insulting Armenia and Armenianness.

  21. @nker boyajian

    i can only hope that the armenian nation/courts, and specially turk-loathing dashnaktsakans would show mercy, for a traitor such a myself who dares to sympathize with hislong suffering turkish brothers 

  22. Robert and his confederates are Nazis who enjoy the negative attention we provide. He knows the evidence. He is not here to learn. He is here to annoy the descendants of the raped and murdered. Let’s ignore him, maybe he can then go betray his instincts elsewhere.

  23. jda–you make a good point. If he ignores the mountains of evidence, we will ignore him.

  24. Mr. Muradian (member of the editorial board):

    I am disappointed that you deleted my post from yesterday. I really held out hope that you did indeed have some integrity, as I was looking forward to seeing my post and initiating and continuing an intellectually stimulating dialogue, with the intent of presenting other viewpoints to help in our forward progression. But unfortunately, you and the board have resorted to the typical tactics of your past. That’s really too bad, because, with all due respect, all you’ve accomplished is to show the class level of the board. 

    As for you most recent posters, your percieved sarcastic wit is juvenile at best! But by all means, please don’t let me stop any of you. There’s something called KARMA, and it can be a bitch! You’ll find out what I mean eventually.   

  25. avatar Random Armenian // January 13, 2011 at 11:18 pm // Reply

    jda,
    Nice response, except for one nitpick. Calling people Nazis is useless. It has no effect, and it’s been overused. It actually distracts from the point being made, and is unnecessary.

    Otherwise thanks for enlightening us on how Kirlikovali thinks. He’s completely and utterly blind with hatred and it will work against him.

  26. Random,
    Thanks, but You have overlooked that my use of the word “Nazi” to describe Turkish nationalists and Kemalists was intentional, rather than a mere term of disapproval.
    The parallels between German and Turkish nationalists are obvious. When these groups describe the victim minorities, they use the images of vermin and parasites. They attribute to the victims powers of social disruption [Bolshevism as to all Jews, Russian allies as to Armenians] such that killing them becomes necessary for national preservation. They steal the wealth of the victims and even use that wealth to exterminate them. They protest the interest of foreign governments in protecting the minorities as intrusive and propaganda.  They claim that the minorities betrayed them. Both use the term “stabbed us in the back.”  And finally,they deny the murders, while using their stolen wealth to claim they are the real victims.
    If the Third Reich had survived, it would have continued the same policies Turkey uses today. Hitler owed much to the CUP and Ataturk.
     
     
     
     

  27. Random Armenian, I think jda makes a valid point.  His use of the term ‘Nazi’ correctly describes an objectionable mindset.

  28. avatar Random Armenian // January 18, 2011 at 1:38 am // Reply

    jda, Boyajian,
    I have no disagreement with the comparison. It’s the same story wether it be in Germany, Turkey or elsewhere. My concern is that the term “Nazi” has also been overused and actually has a specific definition, even though it has it’s counterpart in Turkish history vis-a-vis us. My concern is that given it’s overuse, it might not have the impact to odars as you’d like to have.
    Just my concern. It’s probably much-ado-about not much anyway.

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