Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A hundred years since the Armenian Genocide ... yet ...

I am sure it was in the high school English class that was taught by the maniac with whom I have some unfinished business, we read a short story called the Pomegranate Trees.  Not that the maniac brought that story to our attention--it was in the text that we used.  I loved that story.  I have always loved those kinds of short stories that in very simple words and sentences do a wonderful job of portraying the place and people and, yes, the story itself.

Year later, towards the end of graduate school when life transitioned to California's Central Valley, my curiosity led me to understanding the place and its people.  And was reminded of that short story from the high school years.  This nerd was all excited that I was in the very geography that I had studied about in a story in a high school text.  Since then, I have used that short story in my introductory class for students to analyze the economic geography there, and have even discussed at a professional conference the pedagogical experience.

The author, William Saroyan, was of Armenian descent.  The valley, especially around Fresno, was home to many Armenian-Americans.  One of my favorite Los Angeles Times journalists back then was Mark Arax, who is also an Armenian-American from Fresno.  The treasurer of a local community group that I worked with was an Armenian-American.

Thus, it didn't take me long to understand the angst that the Armenian-Americans felt about the Armenian Genocide.

But, of course, that "g" word is yet to be used by any American president, including the current White House occupant.  The fact that it happened a hundred years ago should make it easy, one would think, for a global leader to call it for what it is.  Nope.  As Matt Welch sarcastically put it, it is not Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day but "Barack Obama/Samantha Power Sanctimony Reversal Day."

What's the reversal, you ask?  Remember Samantha Power's claim to fame via her book?  You forgot already?  She then became Candidate Senator Obama's advisor and is now the ambassador to the UN.  So, back when she was advising Candidate Obama, what did the eloquent senator say?  Again, Matt Welch provides that:
[T]he Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable. An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy. As a senator, I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106), and as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Ahem, Senator Obama won the election, and then got re-elected.  How many years has Obama been the President now?

Turns out that whether it is the Armenian Genocide, or Guantanamo, or illegal wiretapping, or drone warfare, or ... it is a case of Jekyll and Hyde--there was a Senator Obama and there is a President Obama.  I am all the more happy that I voted for neither one.  Not that I voted for the Geriatrics Only Party either--it is all Tweedledum and Tweedledee! :(

Who cares for the million dead in some far away place, eh!

BTW, Matt Welch provides this link to Samantha Power talking about the Armenian genocide, but back in the campaign days of 2008 when they wanted the Armenian-American votes! :(


2 comments:

Ramesh said...

The horrors that man is able to inflict on man. The Armenian genocide is probably one of the most forgotten chapters of recent history. It probably ranks along with the Holocaust as one of the worst atrocities perpetrated by mankind on itself. And yet few people know, or care about it. We even remember the horrors of say Genghis Khan, but have forgotten what the Ottomans did to the Armenians.

This is a fact of history. Who cares what the US President says. For that matter, who is the US President to say anything on this. And whether anybody wants to call it genocide or not is academic, that's what it was.

Sriram Khé said...

you write: "whether anybody wants to call it genocide or not is academic, that's what it was"

It is far from academic. It is important that we explicitly call it out. Especially if the US President calls it that way, and if the US Congress refers to it that way. Because, it will go a long way to address the other part of your comment: "The Armenian genocide is probably one of the most forgotten chapters of recent history" ... it needs to be called out all the more in order to fight the misinformation campaign by the Turkish government.

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