The writer is an assistant professor of international relations at Lehigh University. He served in the Armenian government from 1991 to 1993 as an analyst and a foreign service officer.
Next Friday Armenians in this country and around the world will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the most calamitous event of their history — the mass murder of their ancestors in the Ottoman Empire. There will be solemn speeches, ceremonies and rallies. There will be impassioned calls on governments that have not recognized the murder of Armenians as genocide to do so. And there will be denunciations of the Turkish policy of denial.
The anniversary is also a good opportunity for another kind of reflection. The Armenian politics of memory has not been without its controversial aspects, which are rarely discussed openly and honestly. Such a discussion is long overdue, especially if Armenians do not want the politics to harm Armenia and are interested in Turkey someday recognizing the genocide.
First, if we are genuinely interested in not just the rest of the world but also Turkey recognizing the Armenian genocide — and, at least to this Armenian, that is the recognition that matters — we must fundamentally revise our attitudes toward Turks, as emotionally understandable as these attitudes may be. Specifically, we must stop treating criticism of or even antagonism toward the Turkish state as interchangeable with hostility and hatred toward Turks themselves.