Last weekend, a new hourlong documentary on the Armenian genocide aired on PBS stations across the country. Strangely enough, PBS also decided to follow the documentary with a 4-member panel discussion. That panel included two "scholars" who, the New York Times reports, "defend the Turkish government's claim that a genocide never took place." After appeals by members of Congress and Armenian groups, 1/3 of PBS affiliate stations decided not to air the panel. I say kudos to them and shame on the other 2/3! Could you imagine a documentary on the Shoah being followed by a panel that included two Holocaust deniers?
In the actual discussion that ensued, I am happy to say that the deniers were trounced by the defenders of historical truth. Unfortunately, that is not at all the case in academia as a whole - there are still many Ottomanists who won't go anywhere near the Armenian genocide for fears of being denied funding by or access to archives in Turkey. In any case, the fact that in this case the deniers were defeated does not vindicate the decision to give them even a second of air time.
I found this to be a rather silly observation by the NYT journalist in light of the other issues involved:
Maybe that's true, but it's hardly the big story here!
But the fact that so many stations caved is a measure of something else: PBS's growing vulnerability to pressure and, perhaps accordingly, the erosion of viewers' trust in public television.
Did you know that less than 30 states currently officially recognize the Armenian genocide? Israel and the United States are not among them. Disgraceful, no? Let's do something about it. Jews should be at the forefront of that struggle.