Wednesday, April 25, 2007

No Mark Arax Authorship On Armenian Genocide

It was proper, I believe, for Los Angeles Times Managing Editor Doug Frantz to refuse to run an article by Times reporter Mark Arax on the Armenian genocide. But at the same time, I think it would be better for Frantz to pass up participating in a forum on this and other Turkish subjects in Istanbul next month.

No one can legitimately quarrel with Frantz's statement on the matter. "I put a hold on a story because of concerns that the reporter had expressed personal views about the topic in a public manner and therefore was not a disinterested party," he explained.

No one who knows Mark Arax, who is of Armenian dissent, can reasonably take issue with that conclusion. Arax, like almost all Armenians, remains, as is very understandable, extremely resentful of the World War I genocide when, by well authenticated historical record, Turks murdered more than a million rebellious Armenians. If what Saddam Hussein did to rebellious Iraqi Kurds was unacceptable, so definitely was the Turkish treatment of the Armenians, and that is true even without any formal Congressional action to call it a genocide. Congress may hold back, because of concerns about impact on relations with Turkey, where we have an important air base to supply our forces in Iraq. But what it does or does not do will not change the historical record.

I do not believe Arax has a leg to stand on in his assertion that Frantz has violated anti-discrimination provisions of the U.S. Civil Rights Act in refusing to run his article. It is not discrimination to refuse to permit an employee who has a pronounced view about a subject from writing about that subject.

But, to be fair to Arax, the Times has not always been consistent in that approach.

The Times, for instance, has allowed Henry Weinstein to write articles for years about capital punishment when it is well known that Weinstein is against capital punishment. Also, the Times has had Jewish bureau chiefs in Jerusalem covering the Arab-Israeli dispute, although Marjorie Miller was scrupulously fair and so was Dial Torgerson, who I believe was Jewish. Strangely enough, the only Times bureau chief in the Israeli capital who was perceived as unfair, leaning to the Arab side, was Tracy Wilkinson, who is not Jewish.

I was personally a victim once in my career of the Times' inconsistent approach. When I refused an assignment to go out and interview an ex-Nazi SS camp guard, for the stated view that as a Jew I felt biased against him and didn't want to deal with him, the Times suspended me for three days, and then-editor Bill Thomas upheld the suspension.

I think there ought to be more consistency.

For that reason, I believe it makes no sense for the Times to be paying Frantz's way to Istanbul, where he once represented the Times, if there is any appearance of siding with Turkish positions in the Armenian matter. I'm not certain there is, because I'm not personally familiar with what is to be discussed at the conference or with Frantz's views, whatever they are, but appearances in this business are terribly important, and it would, I think, be better for Frantz to step back.

Both Arax and Frantz have high integrity, and stand for important things. This dispute should not be allowed to cost the Times the future services of either one of them.

And it goes without saying it is important as well that the Times continue to cover the Armenian genocide, capital punishment and the Arab-Israeli dispute. But it should use
reporters who have been somewhat reserved in the pronouncement of their own opinions on these subjects.


There are reports this morning that Solomon Moore, an outstanding L.A. Times reporter in Iraq and on many other assignments, is moving to the New York Times. He is the latest of several terrific people to leave the Times since the usurping publisher David Hiller fired Dean Baquet as editor last year, and bespeaks the lack of confidence many Times people feel about the future of the Times under Tribune Co. control. Losing Moore, like the others, is too bad. He will be missed, and, under the present circumstances, we can only expect he will not be the last talented person to go.


The New York Times devoted the first page of an advertising supplement on their reporting to Somini Sengupta, a former L.A. Times Metro Pro who went to the New York Times and is now their New Delhi bureau chief. Sengupta, a native of India who grew up in California, is well chosen for the honor. Along with the NYT's John Burns, she has emerged as one of the most outstanding NYT foreign correspondents in a long line of great reporters that included A.M. Rosenthal, C.L. Sulzberger, Bill Keller, Homer Bigart and the late, great David Halberstam, who has just been killed in a Bay Area auto crash. Sengupta is still young, and her best days undoubtedly lie ahead.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But it should use
reporters who have been somewhat reserved in the pronouncement of their own opinions on these subjects."

Should it not also have the story vetted with a news executive who isn't just as burdened by personal beliefs and friendships on the other side of the "issue"?

4/26/2007 2:26 PM  
Anonymous artyom said...

No one can legitimately quarrel with Frantz's statement on the matter. "I put a hold on a story because of concerns that the reporter had expressed personal views about the topic in a public manner and therefore was not a disinterested party," he explained.

With all due respect, if one is to follow your line of argument it will be hardly possible to write anything of any import at all about any matter whatsoever. Would you say tat only those Jewish writers are allowed to author pieces about the Holocaust who can claim agnosticism about the Holocaust or have neutral stance on the issue? just does not make sense.

4/30/2007 2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a serious factual mistake on this blog... There is no such thing as "1,5 million rebellious Armenians"... A huge majority of Armenians who got killed were innocent women and children cause most Ottoman Armenian men were liquidated beforehand and/or during the process after they were used as manpower in several construction projects within the Empire. How come a veteran journalist can make such a mistake!

5/02/2007 3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. "when, by well authenticated historical record, Turks murdered more than a million rebellious Armenians." Rebellious? They were just as "rebellious" as millions of jews and tutsis.

2. Did you know NY Times had to correct a published piece by Frantz on the Armenian Genocide several years ago?

3. Simon's "unbiased" report had an unbiased title including the words "about deaths almost a century ago." Am I overly suspicious, or it sounds a little malicious?

5/02/2007 3:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken Reich, I cannot agree with you when you make statements that you cannot verify. "Turks murdered more than a million rebellious Armenians." What is your evidence? You have none. The Brits sought desperately to find such evidence in their Nuremberg at WWI's end (1919-21), couldn't find any, and released every imprisoned Ottoman.

How would you like it if someone accused you of a crime, particularly a high crime, on no evidence?

What we have is propaganda. Plenty of it. We also have "genocide politics." The Armenians were shrewd enough, with their wealth and support of genocide centers, to put their invention on a par with the Holocaust. The Holocaust is a proven genocide, and those who disagree are held in contempt. That has become the fate of those who support the historical truth of WWI events: the Armenians rebelled, were moved away, and bad things happened. There is a blackout on this truth; this was the idea. The idea is to stifle debate on what has become a politicized agenda.

How do we know what I am describing is the truth? We look at the sources. Those that affirm "genocide" had reason to lie for the Armenians. Those that do not are these very same Western sources: they had no reason to lie for hated Turks.

1.5 million was the entire pre-war population for Ottoman Armenians. That was the consensus of Western opinion of the period, as the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica. Today's worst propagandists agree one million survived. That means half of what you claim actually died.

And how dare you say those who died were all "murdered." What's your proof?

The fact is, most Armenians died the same way in which most of the 2.7 million other non-Christian Ottomans died: non-murderous reasons such as famine and disease. Nobody speaks of these victims, for one reason: racism.

When Armenians were in charge of parts of Eastern Anatolia with and without their Russian allies, they systematically exterminated those who were different, including Jews, in order to claim the majority they never had, in addition to feelings of racial superiority that their fanatical leaders and the missionaries instilled in them. Internal Ottoman reports never meant to be publicized verify Armenians killed over half a million "Turks." (Able-bodied Turks were off to war; the defenseless villagers were easy pickings, taking place over a time span of 1915-1919/20.) Yes, The total "murdered" by Armenians (with some Russian help) equals the total of Armenians dead from all causes combined. That means many more "Turks" were "murdered" by Armenians than the other way around. This was the real systematic extermination policy of the war.

The bigots of the time didn't know or care. But this information is now readily available. Why do you not know, or care?

What is your "well authenticated historical record," exactly? You know you really haven't looked into anything besides the propaganda. But even when it is only the propaganda you are looking at, almost exclusively the "evidence" boils down to hearsay, as well as forgeries. Just because a bigot gives his opinion does not put such "evidence" into the "well authenticated" category.

A real scholar, Guenter Lewy, bent over backwards to be fair to Armenians, since they are in the driver's seat, and are prone to make vicious ad hominem attacks, as are their mindless genocide-affirming supporters. Prof. Lewy, a Holocaust survivor to boot, could find no evidence. The book is called, "The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide."

"Both Arax and Frantz have high integrity," you have written. The latter has guts to do his journalistic duty, but the former sounds to me like another agenda-ridden propagandist. That's not my definition of integrity.

Regarding the "anonymous" poster's questioning as to whether the Armenians were "rebellious," there are too many admissions by Armenians themselves to verify their well-planned rebellion (read Boghos Nubar's Jan. 1919 letter to the Times of London, for example), so this person is perhaps trying to outdo Mark Arax with his lack of integrity. As far as the NY Times' correction of Frantz, what does that prove? Historically, the NY Times has been perhaps the worst genocide proponent of all U.S. publications. They have prepared genocide guidelines same as the LA Times, not out of truth, but out of politics and prejudice.

5/12/2007 10:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is now October, so this may well come very late in the day. But with the House resolution on the refusal of Turkey to label the Armenian massacre as genocide in the air, maybe what I might offer will still be 'current'.

First, it is quite a conceit for ANY journalist, nay, editor, to pretend to absolute neutrality or objectivity. That said, I too would uphold the blogger's suspension for refusal to interview the former Nazi guard.

Among other things, one who is biased and knows it stands to gain the most, and to have the most to express and pass on to others, by such a stressful and perhaps unwanted encounter. We all gain.

That said I will offer my own opinion that the characterization of the Armenian masses exterminated as 'rebellious' does NOT square with what I have been able to learn. Rather they were largely a vibrant, productive minority group, esteemed and envied (e.g. hated) in probably equal amounts. As with Jews elsewhere that led to trouble.

As if such a staggering and ugly series of events might be reduced to so nursery-school a single idea...

10/13/2007 5:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ken

Can't find your email on this blog. I am and i am looking to contact Mark Arax, if you have an email for him could you forward my email address for him?

Thanks very much
Guy King

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