October 11, 2007

(Survivors of Armenian genocide perpetrated by Turks in Congress yesterday)

The 92-year struggle to secure official condemnation of the mass killings of Armenians by Turkey during World War I as an act of genocide won an important victory in Congress yesterday. A proposal presented to a House subcommittee by Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) passed by a vote of 27 to 21 and is causing great consternation among the more reactionary sectors of the globe, including the Bush Administration and its ally, Turkey, which has threatened to pull its support for US bases used to invade Iraq if the measure passes beyond the subcommittee.

This tragic, longstanding refusal to acknowledge atrocities committed by the then-declining Ottoman Empire provides an object lesson in the politics of memory, the geopolitics of genocide. Those of us interested in and pursuing justice here in the US should study closely and support strongly the efforts of Armenians in Glendale, CA and other parts of the country to gain official recognition. In addition to being just and necessary, the pursuit of these kinds of re-vindications paves the way for some kind of psychic closure of the abysmal wounds inflicted on Armenians everywhere. It’s also important to note the Bush Administration’s resistance to the resolution. While this NYT story links the Bush Administration’s opposition to Iraq, it fails to note that maintaining such a state of public, official amnesia enables the constant state of pillage, war and genocide that began with the erasure and spin surrounding the genocide against native Americans in this country. And we wonder why Bush won’t do the right thing? It’s business, strictly (war) business.

Such a situation calls to mind these words by Czech writer Milan Kundera,

“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

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