Thursday, October 18, 2007

On The Armenian Genocide

The US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs is a strange place indeed, an island within an island, so isolated from the surrounding world it deemed it appropriate to condemn an Armenian genocide nearly a century old while it finances the ongoing genocide in Iraq.

The genocide inflicted on the Armenians by the Ottoman Empire is very comparable to what is happening on the ground in Iraq except the victim population in Iraq is multicultural and multi-sectarian: Sunni, Shiite and Christian. (Thus far, the Kurds have largely been spared but that could easily change with the entry of Turkey into the war equation.)

Best estimates are over a million Iraqi dead, mass evictions by neighborhood, town and region, and several million refugees in neighboring nations. Our actions may not meet the technical definition of genocide but the evidence of crimes against humanity on a genocidal scale is impressive.

If Congress wishes to condemn the Ottoman Empire at this late date, they ought to clear the genocidal palate by condemning our own genocide committed against the indigenous peoples of North America.

On the occasion of American Indian Movement leader Vernon Bellecourt’s elevation to the Overworld, it would be fitting to finally say aloud what all informed citizenry know and accept: This nation has committed genocide. How can we condemn another people from another land if we fail to admit that our own historical basement conceals a buried child – an estimated 90% of the indigenous population?

While we’re clearing the air, let us acknowledge in a meaningful way the debt we owe African American citizens for a legacy of slavery.

Our representatives in Congress are no different than their counterparts in Turkey. They are frightened near to death that their nation will be held to account for its historical crimes – crimes that include stealing billions from tribal funds held by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The mere whisper of the word “reparations” sends shock waves through the marble halls of deliberation.

This is the real reason we can never admit national guilt: accountability.

If we were held to account, we would be bankrupt overnight. Moreover, we would be bound never to commit crimes against humanity again.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to acknowledge historical truth, an act that should be considered honorable, yet it dishonored that truth with the stain of hypocrisy.

On the matter of genocide, the American government is a glass house and should not be throwing stones.


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