Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Politics of Genocide

When is a genocide not a genocide? It's when a genocide has gotten caught up in international politics. For nearly a century there has been a concerted effort to deny what seems obvious -- A million or more Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Empire. To this day it's illegal to speak of this in Turkey and the American government goes into contortions not to use the word.

A good friend of mine, a retired Methodist pastor, is Armenian. He has spoken strongly to and with any who would have influence, but he only gets stonewalled. Israel, which understands what genocide means, is silent because Turkey is one of it's few allies in the Middle East. We're silent because we have important military bases there. It would seem that confession would be good for the Turkish soul, but so far nothing has happened there and we have stood by and said nothing.

There is House resolution that calls for the President to use the word on April 24th when he will speak to that event on -"National Day of Remembrance of Man's Inhumanity to Man" - but he will not use the word genocide. Politics has intervened.

Matt Welch offers a well written LA Times editorial on this matter of politics covering the truth. He writes in conclusion:

So in February 2005, while speaking in California, [former Ambassador to Armenia James] Evans said: "I will today call it the Armenian genocide. I think we, the U.S. government, owe you, our fellow citizens, a more frank and honest way of discussing this problem." For that remark he was recalled from his post so that Washington could get back to the business of evading the historical truth.

President Bush won't say "genocide" on Tuesday. In the words of Condoleezza Rice, the administration's position is that Turks and Armenians both need to "get over their past" without American help.

But this issue won't go away. Watching Rice's linguistic contortions in response to harsh congressional interrogation by Schiff, who has become the Armenians' great House champion, is profoundly dispiriting; it makes one embarrassed to be American. Of all issues subject to realpolitik compromises, mass slaughter of a national minority surely should rank at the bottom of the list.

Hitler reportedly said, just before invading Poland, "Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?" It's a chilling reminder that forgetting is the first step in enabling future genocides. Yet Hitler was eventually proved wrong. No temporal power is strong enough to erase the eternal resonance of truth.
If such things are not to happen again -- we must never forget nor ignore the words too horrible to speak.

1 comment:

Jason said...

Hiya Bob,

Right on.

All the posturing about never again seems to be, in rear kissing circles, only about never talk about it again cuz someone might get pissed, and then what?!

Like the early Christians picking the abandoned babies off of Roman roads, those who really love the life that God gives will say and do so unequivically and beyond ideologies.

Jason