The Young Turks is a quasi-Marxist media network that reaches more than three million subscribers. It’s primarily cohosted by an Armenian named Ana Kasparian, and the network’s founder, Cenk Uygur, a Turk who’s been side-stepping the Armenian Question with lawyerly cunning.
The Young Turks network, self-shortened to TYT, defends that its Young Turk branding doesn’t pay homage to the nationalist party that committed what scholars today widely regard as genocide. Though Cenk began using the name during his period of denial (in the early 2000s, as the name of his Sirius radio program), we’re supposed to believe his use of it is a coincidence—much like the coincidence that Kasparian, his prolific co-host, is Armenian, thus correcting his reputation. Kasparian—a social justice warrior and Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree who’s famous for fat-shaming, slut-shaming and using expletives YouTube has no shame in monetizing—has now become Cenk’s best public relations strategy. Her role as TYT’s spin-doctor is manifold, but often begins with a classic propaganda tactic: Exploiting imprecise language and burying historical meaning.
In Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary (1943), Young Turk is defined as “a party in Turkey aiming to effect radical political and social reforms.” Those social reforms included enforcing unjust taxes that crippled non-Muslim communities in the Ottoman Empire. Published just 17 years earlier, however, a 1926 Oxford pocket dictionary defined Young Turk as a “Turkish party aiming at the regeneration of Turkey”; it doesn’t explain that “regeneration” included the de-Armenianization of Anatolia. Regardless of the lexicon, if we’re being intellectually honest, the reality is that the Young Turks comprised a group of tribalistic, racist empire-builders who raped, slaughtered and nearly extinguished the Armenian population. So while utilizing the phrase Young Turks as a metonym for young progressives, per its definition in the current American Heritage Dictionary—a definition flaunted on TYT's own site—may be technically correct, it is as intellectually criminal as describing Nazis as “young socialists.”
But the real conundrum isn’t etymological. It’s Kasparian’s role in joining the continuum of controversy that pours salt onto the wounds of Armenians. Her paradox becomes hypocrisy when you take into account her position as TYT’s moral authority. For example, she is first to ridicule conservatives for being immoral swine yet she sits next to a Uygur, who’s famous for remarks like “women want to be lied to,” his contempt for intellectuals like Sam Harris and his silence on the Armenian Genocide. As we know, silence is considered the final phase of genocide denial, as it signals acceptance.
The woke-media industrial complex doesn’t bother calling this out. Keyboard-warriors instead can only be bothered to feel outraged by conservatives and imaginary trade wars. Left unchallenged, Uygur can coyly play the victim on YouTube and claim Armenians “picked a fight” with him while leveraging his Armenian co-host to turn his Armenophobia into social currency. She’s his political ATM.
Ana Kasparian’s protection from leftist outrage is a reminder of the double standard tearing this nation apart.
Kasparian never publicly challenges Cenk when he wiggles past the Armenian Question. And on the 100th anniversary of the genocide, on April 24, 2015, TYT was notably silent. How is that progressive of, as they describe themselves, "the largest online talk, news and entertainment networks for the connected generation?” According to leftist doctrine, silence equals complicity.
To be fair, and almost by accident, Uygur did discuss the genocide in April 2013, handing the ball off to Kasparian, who fumbled like Mitt Romney during a debate: “I hate tiptoeing around this issue, but I'm not going to get into specifics.” So she didn’t. Though she’s discussed the genocide in the past, in an April 2015 video she posted on her own YouTube channel she refused to identify the perpetrators as Young Turks—because that would be off-brand, even if its historically accurate. She continues to deny the Armenian diaspora’s request to have the network's name changed while loudly criticizing Dan Snyder for refusing to change the name of the Washington Redskins. By the way, 90 percent of polled Native Americans have no problem with the name. Every Armenian seems to have a problem with “The Young Turks.” But fuck em,’ right?
After all, while 28 countries recognize the genocide (mainly because of strategic interests in the region), America shamefully does not. When a reporter asked Kasparian in 2013 why she took the job at TYT, she smugly replied, “to piss off the Armenian community.” They both laughed.
The irony is that Kasparian’s political currency is derived entirely from her intersectional rhetoric and vociferous defenses of marginalized people. She is, after all, a “person of color.” Yet her blind spot for her own people puts into question the sincerity of her liberalism, along with her motives. Is Kasparian a journalist, or a press secretary hired to solve TYT’s branding problem? Unless you’re willing to take the non-liberal position that the suffering of the Armenian people is less important than the branding of a media site, then Kasparian, it seems, values platform-building over her own intellectual honesty, which she’s traded in for a digital safe space wherein she can be paid to slut-shame the Kardashians.
Kasparian’s protection from leftist outrage is a reminder of the double standard tearing this nation apart: while the media continuously attacks Ivanka Trump for being complicit in her father's presidency, portrays NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch as being complicit in every mass shooting, buries New York Times journalist Bari Weiss for being complicit in platforming “bad ideas”—all under the canopy of social justice—Kasparian’s complicity is given a pass because she’s a POC "progressive" with three million fans she could weaponize into a trollish army should she need to. “Armenians are very conservative,” Kasparian once said. Which is bad luck in the social justice lottery—de-platformed, I suppose, for being a Christian minority, persecuted by a Muslim majority and not quite POC-enough to generate clicks or virtue signal for retweets.
Editor's Note: A sentence in an earlier version of this op-ed incorrectly suggested Ms. Kasparian to be part of what the writer described as "the continuum of denial that pours salt onto the wounds of Armenians." Ms. Kasparian has discussed the Armenian genocide on numerous occasions and does not deny those events; the use of the word "denial" in this sentence was misleading.
The article has been updated to correct the error.