Stop the politicking and recognize Armenian genocide
France has done it. Italy, Germany, and Switzerland have done it, too. About twenty countries (and forty-two U.S. states) have officially recognized the Armenian Genocide. Now, it’s time for the United States government to step up and do the same.
Doing so will affect relations between the U.S. and Turkey and for this reason, President Obama’s administration, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is against the measure. The truth of the matter is, though, justice and human values should take precedence over politics.
The genocide of 1915 sought to wipe out the Armenian culture with the massacre of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians. Women and children were brutally raped, dehydrated, and starved while on death marches led by the Ottoman Empire.
The term genocide is defined by Merriam-Webster as the “deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group.” By this legal definition, it is impossible to deny that the mass-killings of 1915 were indeed intended to exterminate the Armenian people altogether and was, therefore, a genocide.
Earlier this month, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed House Resolution 232 which would officially label these massacres as genocide. However, this is only the first step, and a baby step at that. The measure has yet to go through Congress in April and win the floor vote. And although President Obama promised to acknowledge the genocide while on the campaign trail, he has recently discouraged the passing of the resolution due to the U.S’s current alliance with Turkey.
Clearly, it is all about the politics; while the President does not deny that the genocide has occurred, he has noted that the timing of the resolution is just not right, the alliance being too important to the United States.
So, why should we care? This issue is not only in the best interests of the Armenian people, it is a human rights issue. By passing this resolution, we can gradually begin to put an end to genocides around the world, such as the current situations in Congo and Sudan.
Adolf Hitler, influenced by the Armenian Genocide, was infamously quoted to have said, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” By shining an international light on the genocide of 1915, we will ultimately be saying, “This is not ok.” Think of what would happen, for example, if murderers and sex offenders were brushed off and not convicted; crime rates would sky rocket and basic human rights would go out the window.
Turning a blind eye to the mass killings of an entire nation is morally wrong, no matter how significant the ties between the U.S. and Turkey. The very fact that the Turkish government is adamantly denying the genocide rather than accepting it as a part of history should prompt the United States to do the right thing, even if it means cutting off its political ties.
Do we really need an ally that, almost one hundred years later, fails to accept the truth… even going so far as to recall its U.S. ambassador upon the passing of House Resolution 232 and arrest any of its citizens who claim the genocide occurred (while, interestingly, that law is just the opposite in Switzerland and France, where it is illegal to deny the genocide happened)?
Hopefully, our government will do the right thing by finally accepting the Armenian genocide and facing any backlash with heads held high.