Today’s print edition of the Wall Street Journal contains the following ad:
The content of the ad itself is pretty bland (“Truth = Peace” and a peace sign could be swapped in for almost any cause), but its purpose is not: To deny that as many as 1.5 million Armenians were systematically rounded up and murdered by the Ottoman government in what is now Turkey, mostly in the year 1915. The modern Turkish government has famously scoffed at the truth of this historical event, despite a century of scholarship and eyewitness accounts. Measures in the United States to officially recognize the genocide (through a congressional resolution, for example) have gained wide support but ultimately failed, mainly because of Turkey’s role as a regional military ally.
The ad contains a URL for the genocide-denial group FactCheck Armenia, the unfounded arguments of which boil down to 1) It wasn’t actually that many people, and 2) The Armenians started it. That group is itself a part of Turkic Platform, a pro-Turkey group that attempts to distract from discussion of the genocide with events like Times Square dance routines. That the caption on that Getty photograph refers to the ethnic cleansing as “the 1915 incident” shows how much success the deniers have had in this country.
A request for comment to Ab Kaan, the Turkish proprietor of Turkic Platform, as to how much he paid for the ad and how he sources his funding, was not returned. Neither Kaan nor his advocacy groups are listed in the Department of Justice’s Foreign Agents Registration Act database, meant to catalog non-Americans who lobby a national cause inside the United States.
The Wall Street Journal did not immediately respond to Gawker’s request for comment.
Update: A Wall Street Journal spokesperson provided the following comment:
We accept a wide range of advertisements, including those with provocative viewpoints. While we review ad copy for issues of taste, the varied and divergent views expressed belong to the advertisers.
Calling the denial of an act of genocide merely “provocative” seems like an understatement.