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Source: Library of Congress, 1915–1920. Armenian woman kneeling next to her dead child in a field within the border of Aleppo, in Syria (where Armenians who survived the death marches grew up, including my own grandparents and great-grandparents).

When a Show’s Name is Founded in Genocide

Cue The Young Turks, a Name Responsible for Wholesale Slaughter

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Cenk Ugyur, Founder of The Young Turks

It’s not so much a business name as it is an entire business brand.

The Young Turks were the political party responsible for carrying out the mass extermination of my people between 1914 and 1923. The Armenians suffered at the hands of the three senior most commanders that were bred out of that movement:

  • Ismail Enver Pasha: Minister of War
  • Ahmed Djemal Pasha: Minister of the Navy
  • Mehmed Talaat Pasha: Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior

The New York Times posting about the extermination, circa December 1915:

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Source: Headline of The New York Times, December 15, 1915.

Telegram sent by the U.S. Ambassador, Henry Morgenthau, Sr., describing the killings of Armenians as “a campaign of race extermination”.

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Source: Ambassador Henry Morgenthau’s accounts and dispatches, circa 1915.

Armenians lost their land, were forced to participate in death marches. The strong, able-bodied men, along with the intellectuals, were rounded up and killed first. The rest, women, children, and the elderly, were marched into the Syrian desert to die.

If we want to show the pattern of violence before the mass extermination, we can look at the massacre of 20–30,000 Armenians in Adana in 1909.

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Source: Street in Christian quarter of Adana, photographed June of 1909.
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Source: New York State Archives, Panorama of the City after the Destruction of Buildings in the Massacre of Armenians by the Turks at Adana, April 14–15 and April 25, 1909.

A mass extermination, not only disgusting in its own right, but left unrecognized, even today. That lack of recognition bred motivations in characters almost 30 years after the Armenians:

Adolf Hitler: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” [August 22, 1939]

These killings inspired a new evil, one who looked to correct the mistakes that the Young Turk regime had failed to recognize.

Almost 1.5 million of my people died at the hands of the Young Turks.

Over 6 million Jewish people died at the hands of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.

It is 2020, and we still let the channels of history echo. Cenk Ugyur, the person in charge of creating the show, said:

“My mistake at the time was confusing myself for a scholar of history, which I most certainly am not. I don’t want to make the same mistake again, so I am going to refrain from commenting on the topic of the Armenian Genocide, which I do not know nearly enough about.”

Here is the main block of information you can use Cenk; it has 307 references for you to go by. If that’s not enough, here is a research assignment on who the Young Turks actually were. There are another 22 references on that. Scroll to the bottom and click on each of them if you’d like to identify their validity. You don’t need to be a scholar, they’ve already done the work for you. Every single major state and modernized country has archives like this one.

How you can have a show go on for 16 seasons across 18 years that is named after the revolution which caused the wholesale slaughter of an entire people is beyond me. It should be beyond anybody.

Imagine if we allowed a television show to be named after the Third Reich. Then, after we do that, and run a show for 18 years, we turn around and say that “we’re not historical scholars — we don’t actually know that Jewish people were slaughtered, so we’ll refrain from commenting about it.”

An entire business brand based in wholesale extermination: Showcasing the epitome of modern-day ignorance.

Yielding allowances for The Young Turks only perpetuates and encourages the very thing the show’s narrative collides with.

We’re better than this. We should have been better than this before the show aired.

Written by

UC Berkeley, mathematics. Los Angeles. Long-time runner. Top writer on Quora, 100M+ total content views. New to Medium. Inquiries: Moumj@berkeley.edu

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