The Funny Thing About History

Today, there is a movement in some countries to engage in something which I can only describe as “creative history.” It can best be defined as “the complete and total lack of facts to support your beliefs or views” and its main proponent is none other than Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Emperor-Elect of Turkey. If his actions were not so transparently pathetic they would be laughable and begging for a treatment for a new sit-com on television.

For starters, Erdogan has serious issues with reporters; so much so that under his leadership, more journalists have been imprisoned and jailed in an attempt to silence them than at any other time in Turkey’s brief modern history. But what can we say about Erdogan’s latest efforts to silence talk of Turkey’s genocide of its Armenian population a century ago? Never mind the photographic evidence to the contrary, Erdogan’s answer to the genocide charge is to call in the world’s diplomats for dressing downs at their respective country’s Turkish embassies. One wonders if Erdogan has any idea how many ambassadors there are worldwide that believe such a genocide occurred?

Of course, genocide denial is not confined to Turkey. Bashar al-Assad has been doing it for five years now. Approximately one-quarter of a million Syrians are dead and millions more are homeless and are now refugees in neighboring countries which can ill-afford to care for them.

Al-Assad and Erdogan drank from the same tainted cup long ago. Erdogan is assisting Daesh; Daesh is assisting al-Assad and the merry-go-round of world diplomatic affairs means that no one is stopping them. Is it a lack of will on the part of the world to end the suffering of people? Hardly. Every civilized nation (excluding those who are profiting from the conflict) has called for a peaceful settlement of the hostilities but to no avail. If Erdogan spent half as much time assisting his Kurdish citizens in their dreams of a separate state as he does taking payments from Daesh’s thieving emissaries while imprisoning and punishing his own citizens when they complain, the world would be a much better place.

Admitting you have a problem is the first step in recovery and yet, Erdogan will never admit that he has a problem with historical facts. It is no accident that his clipped moustache resembles that of another dictator who likewise had a similar problem with facts. In his mind, photographs of Armenian genocide victims must have been photoshopped or given other technical alterations to make him and his people look bad. This attitude also gives us a revealing insight into the paranoia that all dictators experience. However, the one thing both al-Assad and Erdogan cannot photoshop away are facts. Oral histories can be “altered” or “edited.” Photographs can be faked. The one thing that cannot be faked or edited away are that millions of people and their ancestors in the world today are gone and there is no valid explanation for where they went. Six million of Europe’s Jews did not just go out for a walk after dinner between the years of 1933-1945 and disappear into thin air. Approximately one million Armenians did not go to the movies one night, never to return to their homes and loved ones. Nor did an estimated 225,000 Syrians wander over the borders into Lebanon and Israel and Iraq and take up residence there.

What remains to be addressed is how we answer Emperor Erdogan and the intractable al-Assad when they engage in fact-denying. Their days of reckoning will be historical in their scope, if they ever come at all. For the Americans and NATO, the obvious answer would be to immediately remove all military forces and bases from Turkish soil. Let Erdogan cozy up to Iran more than he has been doing. It should be painfully obvious to the NATO and American forces by now that Iran knows everything that they parked in Turkey, anyway. Another way to answer Erdogan’s attempts at revisionist history would be to support the Kurds in their efforts at independence. Removing the PKK from the U.S.’s list of terrorist groups would be another nice touch at correcting a historical imbalance, since it was Turkey who pushed for that designation in the first place. With Turkey’s current behavior, Europe will never agree to add her to its league of European Union countries. If leaders insist upon re-writing history to suit their agendas, by all means we should help them with my suggestions and more, until they get the hint that history is supposed to be a teaching guide for the present and future, and not a thing to be manipulated for unwise purposes and regression into the past.

About the Author
Rachel Grenadier was an olah from the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2003 who returned to the United States in 2015. She really wanted to stay in Israel, but decided that having family members nearby was better for her health than a bunch of devoted, but crazed, Israeli friends who kept telling her hummous would cure her terminal heart condition. She has her B.A. and M.A. from George Mason University in Virginia and is the author of two books: the autobiographical "Israeli Men and Other Disasters" and "Kishon: The Story of Israel's Naval Commandoes and their Fight for Justice". She is now living in Virginia with her three Israeli psychologically-challenged cats and yet, denies being a "hoarder".