Justin McCarthy (American historian)

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Justin A. McCarthy
Born (1945-10-19)October 19, 1945
Nationality American
Fields Histories of the Ottoman Empire and the Balkans
Institutions University of Louisville
Alma mater University of California at Los Angeles
Notable awards Order of Merit of Turkey (1998)

Justin A. McCarthy (born October 19, 1945) is an American demographer, professor of history at the University of Louisville, in Louisville, Kentucky. He holds an honorary doctorate from Boğaziçi University, Turkey, and is a board member of the Institute of Turkish Studies.[1][2] His area of expertise is the history of the late Ottoman Empire.[3][4]

McCarthy has attracted most attention for his views on the Armenian Genocide, occurring during the waning years of the Ottoman Empire. Most genocide scholars label these massacres as genocide, but McCarthy views them as part of a civil war, triggered by World War I, in which equally large numbers of Armenians and non-Armenians died. Because his work denies the genocidal nature of the Armenian Genocide, he has often faced harsh criticism by other scholars who have characterized his views as genocide denial.[5][6][7][8]

Background[edit]

McCarthy served in the Peace Corps in Turkey, from 1967–1969, where he taught at Middle East Technical University and Ankara University.[9] He earned his Ph.D. at University of California, Los Angeles in 1978.[10] He later received an honorary doctorate from Boğaziçi University.[9] McCarthy is also a board member of the Institute of Turkish Studies.[1][2]

Studies[edit]

On Ottoman Empire[edit]

McCarthy's studies concentrate on the period in which the Ottoman Empire crumbled and eventually fell apart. McCarthy believes that orthodox Western histories of the declining Ottoman Empire are biased, since they are based on the testimonies of biased observers: Christian missionaries, and officials of (Christian) nations who were at war with the Ottomans during World War I.[11][12][13] Able to read Ottoman Turkish, he focuses on changes in the ethnic composition of local populations. Thus, he has written about the ethnic cleansing of Muslims from the Balkans and the Caucasus, as well as the Armenian massacres in Anatolia.[11] Even his critics acknowledge that McCarthy has brought forth a valuable perspective, previously neglected in the Christian West: that millions of Muslims and Jews also suffered and died during these years.[14] Donald W. Beachler called Death and Exile "a necessary corrective."[15] His current concentration is on the factors that caused the Ottoman loss in the East in World War I.[11] According to him, the milestone events are the Battle of Sarikamish and what he terms the "Armenian Revolt" at Van.[16] Norman Stone praised Justin McCarthy's The Ottoman Turks: "a brave scholarly attempt, not shrinking from the economic side."[17] Similary, The Ottoman Peoples and the End of Empire was recommended by The History Teacher.[18]

Justin McCarthy also worked on the image of the Ottoman Turks, especially in America (The Turk in America), with a focus on the anti-Turkish prejudices disseminated by some missionaries, from the beginning of 19th century to 1922. Edward J. Erickson commented: "This is a fascinating book! It is thoroughly researched and the footnotes reflect a comprehensive treatment of the subject. The Turk in America corrects a markedly one-sided historiography and breaks new ground in its exposition of how the Ottoman Turks came to be villified in the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries."[19]

Armenian issue[edit]

McCarthy does not deny that a million Armenians died during the massacres of 1915-1923, but claims that millions of Muslims [20] in the region were also massacred in this period and many at the "hands of Armenian insurgents and militia".[21] He has contended that all of those deaths during World War I were the product of intercommunal warfare between Turks, Kurds and Armenians, famine and disease, and did not involve an intent or a policy to commit genocide by the Ottoman Empire. McCarthy has been active in publishing the results of his work and analysis, that Ottomans never had an official state sanctioned policy of genocide, through books, articles, conferences, and interviews.[22] This has made him a target of much criticism from historians and organizations. He was one of four scholars who participated in a controversial debate hosted by PBS about the Armenian Genocide in 2006.[23] Aviel Roshwald describes McCarthy's "version of these events" as "defensively pro-Turkish."[24] Daniel Pipes supported Justin McCarthy's views:

McCarthy has unearthed a horrifying and extremely important fact: that in the course of the century between the Greek war of independence and World War I, the Ottoman Empire suffered five and a half million dead and five million refugees. He deems this Europe's largest lost of life and emigration since the Thirty Years' War. [...] His study minutely reviews the regions and wars, pulling information from foreign and Ottoman sources to produce a compelling account.

Beyond the tragedy involved, this pattern of death and exile has a profound historical importance. To take just three matters that the author raises: It puts into perspective the deportation of Armenians in 1915 and turns this from an act of hatred into one motivated by fear (had the Armenians, with Russian support, rebelled, Ottoman Muslims could have expected to be slaughtered).[25]

Similarly, Andrew Mango called The Armenian Rebellion at Van "A substantial contribution to Turkish-Ottoman and Armenian studies."[26] Edward J. Erickson praised this book as "A gold mine of new and detailed information," with "a fair treatment of the Armenians"[27]

Michael M. Gunter congratulated Justin McCarthy for Muslim and Minorities: "His work is clearly the best available on the subject and merits the close attention of any serious, disinterested scholar"; and "his figure" of the Armenian losses (600,000) "is probably the most accurate we have."[28] Justin McCarthy's work on the demography of Anatolian populations, especially the Armenians, was also recommended by Gilles Veinstein, professor of Ottoman history at the Collège de France,[29] Youssef Courbage, director of researches at the National Institute for Demographic Studies (Paris) Philippe Fargues, Director of the Migration Policy Centre at the European University Institute[30] and Xavier de Planhol, professor of geography and historical geography at Paris-IV-Sorbonne University.[31] Similarly, Le Monde called Muslims and Minorities (1983) "a reference work."[32]

Criticism[edit]

McCarthy's work has been the subject of criticism from book reviewers and a number of genocide scholars.[8][33][34][35] According to Israeli historian Yair Auron, McCarthy, "with Heath Lowry, Lewis' successor in Princeton, leads the list of deniers of the Armenian Genocide."[5] "The Encyclopedia of Genocide" writes, that Stanford Shaw and McCarthy have published shoddy and desperate books claiming there was no genocide and that "the Turkish government really treated the Armenians nicely while they were deporting and killing them", and particularly, "McCartney revises demography to suggest that there really weren't many Armenians in historic Armenia".[36] Among other criticisms, he has been accused by Colin Imber of following a Turkish nationalistic agenda.[37] According to the "Encyclopedia of Human Rights", in their efforts to negate the genocidal nature of the event, Lewis, Shaw, McCarthy and Lewy, most notably, "have ignored the evidence and conclusions of the massive record of documents and decades of scholarship" as well as the 1948 UN Genocide Convention's definition, and these "denialist scholars have engaged in what is called unethical practice".[38] The historian Mark Mazower considers McCarthy's sources and, in particular, his statistics to be "less balanced" than those of other historians working in this area.[39] McCarthy is a member of, and has received grants from, the Institute of Turkish Studies.[40] According to historian Richard G. Hovannisian, Stanford Shaw, Heath Lowry and Justin McCarthy all use arguments similar to those found in Holocaust denial.[41]

According to Michael Mann McCarthy is often viewed as a scholar on the Turkish side of the debate over the death figures in the Balkans.[42]

International Association of Genocide Scholars[edit]

The International Association of Genocide Scholars criticised both Justin McCarthy and the Political Scientist Guenter Lewy with the statement "Scholars who dispute what happened to the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 constitutes genocide blatantly ignore the overwhelming historical and scholarly evidence. Most recently, this is the case with the works of Mr. Justin McCarthy and Mr.Guenter Lewy, whose books engage in severely selective scholarship that grossly distorts history".[43] Among the members of the IAGS who voiced concerns were Donald Bloxham, a University of Edinburgh historian specializing in genocide studies, who acknowledges that "McCarthy's work has something to offer in drawing attention to the oft-unheeded history of Muslim suffering and embattlement... It also shows that vicious nationalism was by no means the sole preserve" of the Ottoman ruling elite.[14] Nevertheless, he identifies McCarthy's work in this field as part of a wider project of undermining scholarship affirming the Armenian Genocide, by reducing it to something analogous to a population exchange.[14] Bloxham writes that McCarthy's work "[serves] to muddy the waters for external observers, conflating war and one-sided murder with various discrete episodes of ethnic conflict... [A] series of easy get-out clauses for Western politicians and non-specialist historians keen not to offend Turkish opinion."[14] IAGS members Samuel Totten and Steven L. Jacobs write that Shaw's and his adherents' (especially Lowry and McCarthy) publications have "striking similarities to the arguments using in the denial of the holocaust": labeling the alleged genocide as a myth by wartime propaganda, portraying the presumed victims as having been real security threats, discounting eye-witness accounts, asserting that deaths occurred were from the same causes that carried away all peoples in the region, minimizing the number of victims, and so on.[44] Likewise, Peter Medding, Professor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, maintains that the number of Armenian Genocide deniers is small (the most prominents being Shaw, McCarthy, Lowry and Lewis) but "their influence is great by virtue of pernicious alliance with the official campaign of falsification by the government of Turkey", so the genocide scholars "have been required to spend much of their intellectual energy on refuting the claims of pseudo-scholarship".[45]

Armenian Assembly of America[edit]

The Armenian Assembly of America claims that McCarthy lent support to the Assembly of Turkish American Associations, which led an effort to defeat recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the U.S. House of Representatives in 1985.[37][40]

Guenter Lewy[edit]

Guenter Lewy, a professor emeritus of political science, writes that Armenians caused the deaths of many Muslims — including by massacres, in Van during the insurrection of Spring 1915, elsewhere during the Russian offensives of 1916 then during the Russian retreat of 1917-1918 —, and that the numbers of deaths may be equal on both sides, so that Justin McCarthy is right in stressing that "the Armenians were not the only ones to suffer horribly and that Muslims, too, lost their life in large numbers during World War I". Lewy nevertheless maintains that "none of this can compare or compensate for the special calamity of the Armenians, who lost not only their lives but also their existence as an organized ethnic community". Lewy's view of the tragedy rejects both the "genocide" label and the "civil war" version of McCarthy.[46]

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry and Australian Federal Parliament[edit]

In November 2013, McCarthy's three planned meetings at the Australian Federal Parliament, University of Melbourne and Art Gallery of New South Wales were canceled on the grounds of his denialist views.[47] On 20 November 2013 the Executive Council of Australian Jewry has released a statement raising questions about the quality of McCarthy’s analysis and expressing their deep concerns of McCarthy’s upcoming address in Australian Parliament. They noted that "whilst freedom of expression and academic freedom require that Professor McCarthy must be at liberty to put forward his theories, the manner in which he does so must not lapse into racial vilification".[48] Member of Australia's Parliament, Greens spokesman on multiculturalism Richard Di Natale told the Sydney Morning Herald that "Justin McCarthy is a rallying point for those who deny the Armenian genocide".[49] According to Liberal member John Alexander, "revisionist Justin McCarthy has used parliamentary facilities to promote his well-documented views questioning the systematic slaughter of Armenians, Assyrians and Pontian Greeks from 1915 to 1923."[50]

Works[edit]

Awards[edit]

  • Şükrü Elekdağ Award of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations
  • Chairman's Education Award of the Turkish American Friendship Council
  • Order of Merit of Turkey (1998)[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b MacDonald, David B. Identity Politics in the Age of Genocide: the Holocaust and Historical Representation. London: Routledge, 2008, p. 121. ISBN 0-415-43061-5.
  2. ^ a b "Board of Governors". Institute of Turkish Studies. 2008-11-04. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  3. ^ Justin McCarthy. Home page of another academic with whom he served in the Peace Corps.
  4. ^ University of Louisville :: The Expert Source :: Expert Details
  5. ^ a b Auron, Yair. The Banality of Denial: Israel and the Armenian Genocide. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 2003, p. 248.
  6. ^ Charny, Israel W. Encyclopedia of Genocide, Vol. 2. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 1999, p. 163.
  7. ^ Dadrian, Vahakn N. "Ottoman Archives and the Armenian Genocide" in The Armenian Genocide: History, Politics, Ethics. Richard G. Hovannisian (ed.) New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 1992, p. 284.
  8. ^ a b Hovannisian, Richard G. "Denial of the Armenian Genocide in Comparison with Holocaust Denial" in Remembrance and Denial: The Case of the Armenian Genocide. Richard G. Hovannisian (ed.) Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1999, p. 210.
  9. ^ a b c Mustafa Aydin, Çağrı Erhan (2004) Turkish-American Relations: Past, Present, and Future, xii
  10. ^ Bloxham, Donald. The Great Game of Genocide: Imperialism, Nationalism, and the Destruction of the Ottoman Armenians. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 214.
  11. ^ a b c McCarthy 1995
  12. ^ McCarthy's 1995 testimony before the US Congress
  13. ^ McCarthy, Justin (March 24, 2005). "Armenian-Turkish Conflict". Retrieved 19 November 2008. 
  14. ^ a b c d Bloxham. The Great Game of Genocide, p. 210-211.
  15. ^ Donald W. Beachler, The Genocide Debate. Politicians, Academics and Victims, New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011, p. 123.
  16. ^ McCarthy, Justin. The Armenian Rebellion at Van. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2006.
  17. ^ Norman Stone, Turkey: A Short History, London: Thames & Hudson, 2010, p. 175.
  18. ^ Richard S. Stewart, "Review", The History Teacher, vol. 36, n° 4, August 2003.
  19. ^ http://content.lib.utah.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/upcat/id/1579/rec/12
  20. ^ McCarthy, Justin Let the Historians Decide, Ermeni Arastirmalari, volume 1, Ankara 2001.
  21. ^ McCarthy, Justin Death and Exile: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821-1922. Darwin Press, Incorporated, 1996, ISBN 0-87850-094-4
  22. ^ Jaschik, Scott (October 22, 2007). "Genocide Deniers". 
  23. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (2006-04-17). "A PBS Documentary Makes Its Case for the Armenian Genocide, With or Without a Debate". New York Times. Retrieved 2006-09-02. 
  24. ^ Roshwald, Aviel, Ethnic nationalism & the fall of Empires: Central Europe, Russia and the Middle East, 1914-1923, Routledge, 2001, p. 91.
  25. ^ Daniel Pipes, "Book Review", The Middle East Quarterly, June 1996.
  26. ^ http://content.lib.utah.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/upcat/id/1170/rec/5
  27. ^ Edward J. Erickson, "Book Review," The Middle East Journal, vol. 61, n° 2, p. 348.
  28. ^ Michael M. Gunter, "Pursuing the Just Cause of their People". A Study of Contemporary Armenian Terrorism, Westport-New York-London: Greenwood Press, 1986, pp. 11 and 19.
  29. ^ Gilles Veinstein, "Trois questions sur un massacre", L'Histoire, April 1995.
  30. ^ Youssef Courbage et Philippe Fargues, Chrétiens et Juifs dans l'Islam arabe et turc, Paris: Payot & Rivages, 1996, p. 222-227 (English translation: Christians and Jews under Islam, London-New York: I.B. Tauris, 1997).
  31. ^ Xavier de Planhol, Minorités en Islam, Paris: Flammarion, pp. 431, n. 35 and 450, n. 44.
  32. ^ "Turquie : l'ouverture des archives ottomanes", Le Monde, May 19, 1989.
  33. ^ Churchill, Ward. A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas, 1492 to the Present. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1997, p. 299 ISBN 0-87286-323-9
  34. ^ Drobnicki, John A., and Richard Asaro, "Historical Fabrications on the Internet: Recognition, Evaluation, and Use in Bibliographic Instruction", in Di Su (ed.), Evolution in Reference and Information Services. Binghamton, New York: Haworth Press, 2001, ISBN 0-7890-1723-7, p. 136
  35. ^ Totten, Samuel and Paul Robert Bartrop, Steven L. Jacobs. Dictionary of Genocide, Volume 2. 2008, p. 273
  36. ^ Encyclopedia of Genocide: A - H., Vol. 1, 2000, p. 163
  37. ^ a b Imber, Colin. "Review of The Ottoman Turks: An Introductory History." British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Vol 26, No. 2. Nov. 1999, pp. 307-310.
  38. ^ Encyclopedia of Human Rights, Vol. 1, ed. David P. Forsythe, Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 101
  39. ^ Mazower, Mark, The Balkans; A Short History, Modern Library, 2002, p. 159.
  40. ^ a b Edward Tabor Linenthal (2001) Preserving Memory: The Struggle to Create America's Holocaust Museum. New York: Viking, 1995.
  41. ^ Hovannisian, Richard G. "Confronting the Armenian Genocide" in Pioneers of Genocide Studies. Samuel Totten and Steven L. Jacobs (eds.) New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 2002, p. 34.
  42. ^ "In the Balkans all statistics of death remain contested. Most of the following figures derive from McCarthy (1995: 1, 91, 162-4, 339), who is often viewed as a scholar on the Turkish side of the debate. Yet even if we reduced his figures by as 50 percent, they would still horrify." Michael Mann, The dark side of democracy: explaining ethnic cleansing, Cambridge University Press, 2005, ISBN 0521538548, p. 112.
  43. ^ IAGS open letter (page1,paragraph 3) http://www.voelkermord.at/docs/Scholars_Denying_IAGS.pdf
  44. ^ Pioneers of Genocide Studies, by Samuel Totten, Steven L. Jacobs, Transaction Publishers, 2002, p. 34, ISBN 0-7658-0151-5
  45. ^ Jews and Violence: Images, Ideologies, Realities, by Peter Medding, Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 260, ISBN 0-19-516009-6
  46. ^ Lewy, Guenter. The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2005, pp. 115-122 and 241.
  47. ^ Two Events Featuring Genocide Denier Canceled In Australia, Asbarez, November 20th, 2013
  48. ^ ECAJ says no to using Parliament to deny genocide, Jewish Online News from Australia and New Zealand
  49. ^ Genocide denier 'should not be silenced', Dan Harrison, The Sydney Morning Herald, Nov 21, 2013
  50. ^ Australian politicians speak against Genocide denier in Parliament, Press Release, Nov 21, 2013

External links[edit]