Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

“Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

Posted by Gerald on October 11, 2007

There have been numerous stories recently about the committee’s vote recognizing the Armenian genocide.  Turkey has condemned it, Armenia has welcomed it, and our President tried to stop it as a threat to our global war on terror.  Here is a summary of the whole thing.

Although not an expert on this subject, I’ve read a great deal on it in recent years and fall into the group that says the Ottoman government did commit genocide on the Armenian people.  After all, no less an expert on genocide than Adolf Hitler cited it himself

If Turkey really wants to join the EU and be the modern democracy it can be it is going to have to face up to this issue.  First it needs to eliminate the laws preventing an open discussion of this matter and it needs to stop threatening other countries for discussing it.  Second, it needs to protect those who espouse the unpopular position in that country that this was, in fact, genocide.  Third, it needs to look this issue squarely in the eye…

… as my country needs to do with its own genocide.

No number of museums, coins, or stamps can change the fact that our country was built on acts of slaughter.  Nor can we turn the clock back and change those things.  We can, however, look squarely at what happened.

We need to recognize, and teach in our schools, that the “westward expansion” was an act of imperial conquest no different than those undertaken by the European powers and far more devastating in its long-term effects.

We need to take meaningful action to redress what can be fixed.  Some first steps would include a settlement of the lawsuits against the Department of the Interior over the mismanagement of native lands and a real dialogue concerning the status of the Black Hills.

We need to address the ongoing oppression and legal discrimination against native peoples.  We do not need the government to try to impose solutions.  We need to provide native peoples with the wherewithal and opportunities to create the solutions THEY decide upon.  We need to get out of the way.

Maybe, once we have dealt with the original sin, we can then move on to the next great sin out country is built on – slavery.  That is for another post.

Once we have done all of this we might have the moral authority to actually say something to Turkey about how it has dealt with its past.

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5 Responses to ““Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?””

  1. bridgett said

    Becoming a signator to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (which only the US, Canada, NZ, and Australia voted against) would be a good start. Bush is making General Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia look like a progressive genius on this issue.

    http://www.ohchr.org/english/issues/indigenous/declaration.htm

    When I teach the US survey, I make the case denial of sovereignty and liberty are not just bad things that affected other people in the past. They are the mechanisms by which full citizenship became possible for many Americans and the racial assumptions are worked deep into our common law and are still shaping our experiences. (This boogers out the white students, especially when they
    see the African-American students nodding in agreement.)

  2. bridgett said

    Oh, and apparently there’s somewhat of a superficial policy change brewing in Australia. I’ll believe it when I see it.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7039823.stm

  3. Gerald said

    I remember reading an essay a few years ago where the author advocated shelving MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech for a few decades. The argument was that the ideal of a racial blind America was neither possible nor beneficial given current reality.

    I think that if we could really face up to all of this and address these realities we could start to model a truly diverse society. That would be something to be proud of America for.

  4. bridgett said

    I think King anticipated more change and faster change than has come to pass. Sadly, he wasn’t there to help birth it into being and let’s remember that he was speaking as a prophet — envisioning rather than describing. So, yeah, that’s an ideal to move towards but we’re going to have to move through some painful shit to get there.

  5. jrsyshadow said

    Thank you for the recognition and support: http://gafancher.wordpress.com/2007/10/24/recognizing-the-armenian-genocide/.

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