Armenian Genocide Resolution Blog Posting at SFWeekly.com Draws Armenian Ire

Turkish Dismay

Blind hatred all around: The San Francisco Board of Supervisors' recent adoption of a resolution calling on [U.S. House] Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi to continue her support for the Armenian Genocide resolution in Congress was an act of honesty, morality, and courage.

Intelligent people may have legitimate disagreements about policy decisions and the proper course of action. If Benjamin Wachs, in his recent op-ed piece on the subject ["SF Needs to Kill Its Armenian Genocide Resolution," The Snitch blog, www.sfweekly.com, Oct. 30], had limited his criticism of the board's action to the national security concerns which have been raised by opponents of the resolution, then my response is that he has bought into the hype that was created by the powerful Turkish lobbyists.

Unfortunately, Mr. Wachs went far beyond simply disagreeing with the board. He made inaccurate statements: For example, he stated that "there is no current genocide against the Armenians." Genocide scholars agree that the final stage of genocide is denial. Elie Wiesel has called denial a "double killing," as it murders the dignity of the survivors and seeks to destroy remembrance of the crime.

Mr. Wachs also claimed that speaking out against the genocide "will not save a single life." If he had thoroughly researched the subject, he would have been aware that Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was assassinated earlier this year because he dared mention the Armenian Genocide in his publication, an act which was criminal under the Turkish Criminal Code and intolerable given the atmosphere of denial. So, 92 years after the Armenian Genocide began, Hrant Dink became its 1,500,001st victim.

Finally, and most disturbingly, Mr. Wachs was guilty of the "blind hatred" of which he accused the supervisors. His opening line was so demeaning and disrespectful about the experience of our people and forefathers as to shock the conscience. If similar comments had been made in reference to the Holocaust, which fortunately is more widely known, there would have rightfully been an uproar across the nation.

Mr. Wachs owes an apology not only to Armenians for his callous comments, but to everyone, because the Armenian Genocide was a crime against humanity. Given its mission, and freedom of expression issues aside, SF Weekly failed in this instance by publishing Mr. Wachs' piece, which can be accurately described as hate speech.

Haig Baghdassarian

San Francisco

Benjamin Wachs responds: Historians agree the genocide against the Armenians was real and deserving of recognition. My article clearly said so. But what's gained by the U.S. government "officially recognizing" a tragedy it had nothing to do with, 90 years after the fact? It's a symbolic victory for the Armenian people, yes. But passing this measure now adds tension to an already teetering situation on Iraq's Turkish border. It puts Iraqi civilians and American soldiers in harm's way. For their sakes, it can wait.

Symbolic politics are less important than human life. I'm saddened that this belief is seen as hateful.

Comedians Not Amused

A grain of salt is the best medicine: We've always appreciated the exposure we've received in SF Weekly over the last six years. So we were surprised to see a preview for our new show with an inexplicably negative slant in your Oct. 24 issue ("Laughter Not Actually Best Medicine," Night & Day). Hiya Swanhuyser's blurb about us refers to our past successes, and even proposes that we will, in fact, make the audience laugh, but with a title like "Laughter Not Actually Best Medicine" and the suggestion that our show is actually about the dull world of medical insurance, this preview is very misleading.

As our press release stated, our show is, as always, a series of sharp comic vignettes on a wide variety of topics. Our show has nothing to do with "poor access to health care," which would have been obvious if Hiya had seen the show at press time (which was impossible, because we opened on Oct. 26 with no previews). We always love free promotion, but in this case we feel like this unnecessarily skeptical preview that isn't based on having seen the show is more apt to turn potential audience members away.

Dave McKew & Colin Benoit

Uphill Both Ways

San Francisco

Hiya Swanhuyser responds: I will be absolutely sure to learn time travel before I write about your work again. For now, I'll explain that laughter is not the best medicine — medicine is the best medicine, and a lot of people are having trouble getting it. Since the title of your show is "Insurance? We Don't Need Insuraaaahhh!" I made a wild jump to the conclusion that you might refer to the world of medical insurance. My mistake, and it won't happen again.

Corrections

In the Oct. 10 cover story "The Vice Hotel," we incorrectly stated that the Tenderloin Housing Clinic (THC) spent $1 million of its $18 million budget during 2005 on lobbying expenses. The error was due to a misreading of the nonprofit's IRS filings. Those filings actually state that the clinic spent no money on lobbying expenses that year. Columnist Matt Smith took THC's $1 million "lobbying nontaxable amount" entry to mean that the nonprofit had spent that much money on lobbying. In fact, this line refers to the maximum amount the IRS allows a charity to spend on lobbying without paying tax.

We omitted to credit Kyle Webster for last week's cover art. SF Weekly regrets the errors.

 
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