A wall at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. quotes an infamous statement from Adolf Hitler to his commanders as the dictator readied to kill men, women and children in Poland.
“I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by firing squad,” Hitler said in 1939. “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
Hitler no doubt would have gone on to pursue his acts of evil irrespective of Ottoman Turkey’s slaughter of Armenians 24 years earlier. But advocates for U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide have long cited the quote as one of the most haunting and succinct examples of the consequences of covering up the past. It emboldens villains both great and small to perpetrate their crimes.
Nearly 100 years after the start of the Armenian Genocide — customarily remembered around the world today — Congress should end its shameful legacy of vacillating and pass legislation recognizing the genocide as such. Americans, Armenians and even descendants of the genocide’s perpetrators deserve no less.
Along with simply pretending the events in question never happened — a slap in the face of Genocide survivors, their descendents and anyone who cares about the truth — Genocide deniers are wont to insinuate that the events in question occurred so long ago, it does not matter whether they really happened or not.
Turkish scholar Taner Akçam’s 2006 A Shameful Act, which authoritatively demonstrates the background, systematic planning and failed legal repercussions of the genocide, shatters the first part of that stance.
Further, the massacres are a living issue for all parties that stand to be touched by the genocide resolution, which is currently stalling in the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.
The resolution would help free U.S. academia from the well-funded pressure of genocide-denying groups and might even be a first step toward a more responsible foreign policy.