Toronto Man Denies Armenian Holocaust, Given Free Coffee and a Hug

A Toronto man who planned for months to cause a stir by publicly denying the Armenian Holocaust was, instead, given free coffee and a hug when he began shouting about the controversial event outside a local bookstore.

"It was unbelievable," claims Hakan Basturk, the 23-year old student who has spent the last three years researching Armenian-Turkish relations at the University of Toronto and is convinced the genocide never occurred. "It's like they didn't care at all what I was saying. I can't believe I didn't get arrested, or punched. Or at the very least severely scolded. I'm just very disappointed in myself and in Canada right now."

Rather than causing the sensation he had hoped for, Basturk was greeted by Madeleine Young, a retired schoolteacher who was on duty that morning at Clifford's, the bookstore outside of which Basturk set up his podium, and who invited him to come inside for a cup of hot coffee.

"It was a cold, rainy day," Young explained, "just really, really awful weather. The young man looked wet, he was shivering. I thought the least I could do is make him some coffee. He was reluctant, but he came around. He reminded me of my grandson."

Although Basturk admitted he enjoyed the coffee, he said he only followed Young inside because he was shocked and numbed by her reaction.

"I lost my head. I failed. I couldn't believe what was happening. I had chosen Clifford's very carefully because just last year two Holocaust deniers had been kicked out of a book signing there and arrested on the spot. I think they may have even been deported. So I was expecting an easy time, I thought I'd hit the soft underbelly of political correctness. And I was just caught off-guard."

After finishing his coffee, Basturk again attempted to yell out his prepared slogans, this time inside the bookstore, but the store's few patron's paid no attention. When Young brought him a plate of cookies to quiet him down, Basturk pleaded with her to call the police and report him as a public disturbance. Young, however, refused.

"He was angry, but he wasn't a bad young man. I thought all he needed was a hug, a little tenderness, so I gave him one. There was no need for police."

Finally, Basturk managed to get to the telephone himself, and called the Toronto Police Department to complain about his own disturbance.

"I told them I was yelling and screaming out racist chants, and that from a distance I even looked mildy Arabic," explained Basturk, "but the police officer wouldn't budge. He said it was my right to say what I wanted as long as I wasn't being too loud or it wasn't too late at night. I don't think he understand what exactly I was talking about, either. I did read him off part of my list of bibliographical sources that would give a good background to the relevant era of Turkish history, but all he suggested was that I come back in the evening, perhaps with a loudspeaker."

But Basturk didn't come back. He was too distraught with how his day had turned out, and disappointed with all the planning that had gone to waste. "I had some really good, offensive brochures I was going to pass out. I had even drawn pictures for them with my new graphics tablet. And to see it all go to waste was too disheartening. I felt foolish. I wanted nothing more than to hide in my dorm room."

When questioned several days later about whether he would continue to attempt to publicly deny the Armenian Holocaust, Basturk was firm in his stance that he would, but offered a bleak assessment of his chances.

"The average person thinks that event denial is all the same. What they don't understand is that it actually varies a lot from event to event. Even just within the Holocaust niche. Take, for example, denying the Jewish Holocaust. Everyone knows the Jewish Holocaust, what it was, when it happened, who died, and who the bad guys were. So denying it is easy," Basturk said. "But when you're faced with something like the Armenian Genoncide, it's different. People don't know. You have to teach people about it first, educate them. Only then can you question what they've learned and publicly denounce it as a baseless lie."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like the sarcasm ... good sense of humour.