The White House Finally Used the Phrase ‘Armenian Genocide’
Every single year since I could remember, Armenians in Los Angeles would gather and march the streets of Hollywood for recognition and acknowledgment.
But no president has ever used the word genocide to describe the events that took place in the years following 1915.
Not Clinton, not either of the Bushs, not Obama, and certainly not Trump.
In fact, when Congress tried to show unity and pass a resolution to do exactly that and call it by its name, Trump blocked it.
Trump’s response was nothing. In fact, the Department of State’s spokesperson, Morgan Ortagus, said that:
“The position of the Administration has not changed. Our views are reflected in the President’s definitive statement on this issue from last April.”
So when Congress passed Resolution 150 toward the end of 2019, Trump’s response was that he was not going to respond. Here is a snippet of that definitive statement from April:
“Today, we commemorate the Meds Yeghern and honor the memory of those who suffered in one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century. Beginning in 1915, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in the final years of the Ottoman Empire. On this day of remembrance, we again join the Armenian community in America and around the world in mourning the many lives lost.”
One of the worst atrocities. Not genocide, not calculated extermination, and certainly not accurate.
That letter was labeled “Statement by the President on Armenian Remembrance Day 2019”.
But on July sixth, 2020, the White House Press Secretary didn’t talk about Armenian Remembrance. She referenced historical monuments being vandalized, and, among them, she referenced the Armenian Genocide memorial in Denver, Colorado.
The longstanding absence of the word genocide has been to the benefit of Turkey. Turkey doesn’t believe the events translate to a genocide. President Erdogan has said that the mass killings were a “messy aspect of war”. President Erdogan stands along in the world with that conclusion. Virtually every single scholar and historian agrees that the events took place happened by calculation, were designed to exterminate an entire people, and that they were pre-meditated.
In fact, Raphael Lemkin’s primary motivation for coining the word ‘genocide’ was the attempted extermination of my people:
“When Raphael Lemkin coined the word genocide in 1944 he cited the 1915 annihilation of the Armenians as a seminal example of genocide.”
The irony is that the word’s initial reference hasn’t been officially used since the word itself was created. Lemkin wanted the world to learn.
Instead, every single president has denied the usage of genocide.
I owe my existence to my great grandparents who survived that genocide.
It’s a depressing thing to hear these mass killings called genocide for the first time — and it’s probably a political mistake on the press secretary’s end. It’s more depressing to understand that the word’s origin was meant to describe the annihilation of my people.
“On this day, we also honor and recognize the work of those who tried to end the violence, as well as those who sought to ensure atrocities like this would not be repeated, like human rights activist and lawyer Raphael Lemkin.”
When we say Genocide, we’re talking about the Armenians. If any president is trying to honor and recognize Raphael Lemkin, then you call the mass killings by the name he created.
Otherwise, you’re not honoring anything.