A TALE OF TWO GENOCIDES
If there’s one thing we Americans have learned in the past year it’s that not all genocides are created equal. There are awful genocides – monstrous, savage, intolerable genocides. And then there are genocides that are merely unfortunate, but not the sort of thing that should come between friends.
The big, bad genocide goes by a special name. It’s not just a genocide; it’s a Holocaust. Personally, I was steeped in it when I was five. That’s right, five. My grandmother owned a book called Hitler Terror that was published in 1933, the same year that the Nazis came to power – and, notably for the purpose of this blog post, eight years before the
Hitler Terror is but one of several Holocaust books that I have at home. I realize that we must never forget that awful time in history. Both of my daughters have been to
I congratulate the Jews who came before me for ensuring that the Nazi genocide got its own special name. The Armenians, by contrast, were not nearly as adroit. Being a “child of genocide” (or more specifically, a “great nephew” of genocide), I have been aware for a long time that nine decades ago, the Turks slaughtered well over a million Armenians in what can only be described as a genocide. But that’s the problem – it has only been viewed as genocide – or, more specifically, “the Armenian Genocide.” It has never received a special name of its own that has entered the consciousness of Grant Wood’s
Recently, many Democrats in Congress, seeking to do something, anything with respect to the Middle East other than restrict the prosecution of the
When I first heard about the resolution to condemn the Armenian Genocide, my immediate reaction was “it’s about time.” Apparently, though, I wasn’t sufficiently schooled in Machiavelli. One editorialist and opinion writer after another has come out against the resolution, pointing out the absurdity of angering our good friends in
If I may stop dripping with cynicism for a moment, I actually do understand the point of those who condemn the resolution. Now wouldn’t appear to be the ideal time to wake up to the Armenian Genocide. Things are a tad combustible in the Turkish sphere of influence. But … and it’s a BIG but … why have we waited ninety years to take action? Other countries haven’t had a problem labeling the Turkish conduct as genocide? Where have we been? Do we really think that killing one million is OK – just don’t multiply that figure to six or more?
I’m sure Mr. Ahmadinejad has his own real-politic reasons for questioning the existence of the Holocaust, I mean the “Jewish Genocide.” I’m sure he, too, has friends who would like to deny it, and he values his friendships as much as we do. Is the lesson from all this that we should welcome him as a fellow traveler in an increasingly Machiavellian world? Or are we somehow more morally advanced than he is?
I’d like to think we are. But with the passage of time, the lines seem to blur more and more, don’t they?