The Turkish pot is calling the French kettle black, as AK Prime Minister Erdogan denounced France’s foolish and illiberal law criminalizing the denial of genocides, including the massacres of Armenians in modern Turkey during World War One.Somewhat hysterically, Erdogan warned of the “footsteps of fascism” in France over the bill. In fact it was the footsteps of opportunism he was hearing: the deeply unpopular and desperate French president Nicolas Sarkozy is straining every nerve to eke out a re-election win, and pandering to Armenians is a time honored if low rent way to gin up support in bad times. (There are about half a million people in France with Armenian roots.)Erdogan is right that the French law is a bad idea. But Turkey has an even more miserable law making it a crime to assert that the deaths of so many Armenians constituted a genocide and it has repeatedly invoked that law to stifle rational argument and debate.Erdogan is being exactly as opportunistic and disingenuous as Sarkozy. He is wrapping himself in the Turkish flag and bellowing demagogically to milk as much political advantage out of the situation as he can. It’s an unworthy performance from both leaders and between them they are making this a sadder and sillier world.Both countries should leave history to historians and the educated public. Legislatures have no business passing laws limiting debate or proclaiming this or that historical interpretation to be the sacred dogma of the state. Thoughtful Turks are embarrassed and humiliated by their government’s stand on this issue, and thoughtful French people are now in the same boat.
Illiberal Turkey Blasts Illiberal France
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