A major newspaper ran an ad by genocide deniers. Kim Kardashian isn’t having it.

Kim Kardashian is in the news again — but wait!

It's not something about the latest Kimoji cry faces or a celebrity feud. I promise, even if you don't keep up with the Kardashians, you'll want to read this.

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images.


In April 2016, The Wall Street Journal ran an ad by a group that denies the Armenian genocide ever happened.

This is a problem because the genocide, well ... definitely happened. This is a fact.

Much like there are Holocaust deniers and 9/11 conspiracists, the Armenian genocide has been questioned and dismissed by people who, for whatever reason, prefer to believe fiction.

The group responsible for the Wall Street Journal ad fuels the fires of these outrageous, harmful lies.

Kardashian, who is of Armenian descent, responded with a full-page ad in The New York Times, penning a blistering attack of The Wall Street Journal's decision to run the ad.

The letter — which Kardashian originally shared on her website in April — was published over the weekend, courtesy of the Armenian Educational Foundation.

"It’s one thing when a crappy tabloid profits from a made-up scandal," Kardashian wrote. "But for a trusted publication like WSJ to profit from genocide — it’s shameful and unacceptable."

For what it's worth, The Wall Street Journal defended itself when criticism began pouring in, explaining that it accepts "a wide range of advertisements, including those with provocative viewpoints."

As you can imagine, this explanation didn't extinguish the fire when The Wall Street Journal first issued it months ago, and it likely won't please too many people now that Kardashian's rehashing the controversy.

This wasn't a one-off move by Kardashian. She's used her platform to speak out on the issue before.

Kardashian, whose ancestors escaped to America just before the genocide began, most notably used her fame to shine a light on the overlooked atrocity when "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" filmed an episode at the genocide memorial in Yerevan, Armenia, last year.

Photo by Karen Minasyan/AFP/Getty Images.

Because many parts of the world have forgotten about the horrors of the Armenian genocide, here are some important facts about the tragedy to remember:

1. The Armenian genocide lasted from 1915 to 1918 and killed about three-fourths of the Ottoman Empire's Armenian population.

That's about 1.5 million people who died at the hands of a state trying to exterminate an entire people within its borders, according to the Armenian National Institute.

Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images.

How could something like this even happen?

2. The empire's crumbling government became suspicious of Armenians leading up to and during World War I. It made them the perfect scapegoats.

As History.com notes, the relatively wealthy and educated Christian Armenians, a minority in the empire, stood out amongst their Muslim Turkish neighbors. This led to widespread resentment. And that resentment eventually led to state-sanctioned suspicion.

Mourners hold photos of famous Armenians killed in the genocide at the memorial in Yerevan. Photo by Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images.

As the Ottoman Empire destabilized during the first world war, the ruling political party, which was fighting alongside Germany, believed Armenians would sympathize with the enemy. So officials began arresting and executing Armenians, many of whom were sent on "death marches" through the desert, where they'd eventually die from exposure and dehydration, The New York Times reported.

3. The genocide was part of a broader plan by officials in power to "Turkify" the region back to the way it was — the good ole days, so to speak.

At the turn of the century, a new ruling government, the "Young Turks," came to power with very strong nationalistic views. People who weren't Turkish and especially those who were Christian were seen as a threat to these new "Turkification" efforts.

In other words, their plan was to Make the Ottoman Empire Great Again.

A map of what used to be the Ottoman Empire and surrounding region. Photo by Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images.

These new ideas of strength and nationalism left Armenians particularly vulnerable and helped justify the eventual extermination of 1.5 million people.

4. Sadly, some countries still do not officially recognize the mass killings as a genocide, including the U.S.

Although several individual U.S. states do, the federal government is hesitant to deem the Armenian genocide an actual genocide, the Los Angeles Times reported, worried that doing so would complicate our relationship with Turkey, an important NATO ally.

Turkey, of course, doesn't want to confirm the horrors it unleashed back in 1915. So it has spent millions of dollars lobbying U.S. officials to keep up the status quo of denial.

Which makes Kardashian's emphasis on simply telling the truth so much more compelling.

"It’s totally morally irresponsible, and, most of all, it’s dangerous," Kardashian wrote of The Wall Street Journal's decision to publish the ad. "If this had been an ad denying the Holocaust, or pushing some 9/11 conspiracy theory, would it have made it to print?"

Kim Kardashian at the genocide memorial in Yerevan, Armenia, in 2015. Photo by Karen Minasyan/AFP/Getty Images.

Isn't it time we make this issue about the facts and not about politics?

"We have to be responsible for the message we pass on to our children," Kardashian wrote. "We have to honor the truth in our history so that we protect their future. We have to do better than this."

More

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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