Posted by Thomas Nephew on October 16th, 2007
Both despite and because of the efforts of the Washington Post, the Armenian Genocide continues to be a hot topic in the media and in Congress. It’s despite their efforts, because the Post editorial board clearly wishes no one cared quite this much about a little old genocide years and years ago someplace far away. Ironically, it’s also because of those selfsame efforts, because a lot of good Americans are probably learning about that same little old genocide for the first time ever over their eggs and coffee — and thinking “huh? wait a minute, that’s not right” about the systematic, Washington establishment-assisted efforts to deny it.
The Post kicked things off last week with possibly the most despicable editorial in their recent history, a veritable barrage of genocide (make that “genocide”) denial, belittlement of those who refuse to forget, and slander of those working on their behalf that would make a David Irving flush with shame.
Sunday’s installment in the Post’s full court press came courtesy of David Ignatius. As someone with Armenian American roots of his own, he crafted a rather remarkable document that ends with this pearl of wisdom: But if foreign governments try to make people do the right thing, it won’t work. They have to do it for themselves.”
Call me crazy, but that seems a lot more applicable to a certain quagmire Ignatius and his buddies thought was such a great idea. The distinction between a nonbinding resolution and what Ignatius is babbling about is so obvious even the Post editorial page should be able to grasp it, but I’ll spell it out anyway: if you make someone do something at gunpoint, it may not be the right thing in the first place — and if it’s not at gunpoint, you’re not really making them do anything.
Next, on Monday Fred Hiatt wept big, salty crocodile tears for Armenia:
Imagine what the Armenian diaspora might have accomplished had it worked as hard for democracy in Armenia as it did for congressional recognition of the genocide Armenians suffered nearly a century ago. [...] It’s hard not to think that 3 million Armenians might be less poor and more free than they are today.
One way 3 million Armenians would be less poor if their landlocked country weren’t blockaded by Turkey (population 71 million). I’m doing my best here to imagine what the Armenian diaspora can do about that — maybe advocate some kind of deal with a country… that… denies a million and a half Armenians died at its own ancestors’ hands. Just from a business standpoint, you’d always have to be wondering what other inconvenient facts they’d “forget.”
Hiatt has a point about one thing, though. Armenia — it may be freely stipulated — is not the very model of a major Western democracy: no military industrial complex to speak of, no “up is down, torture is OK when the president says it is” Office of Legal Counsel Mumbo Jumbo, no up is down, “genocide by our pals is fine, genocide by those sitting on a lot of oil we want isn’t” major news media firms. To be sure, Armenia has apparently mucked up a few elections lately, and we can only hope it will rise to Florida 2000 or Ohio 2004 levels with dedicated hard work.
As noted last week, the Turkish government is currently ingratiating itself with the power circles of Washington to the tune of $329,000 a month in lobbyist fees. Set against that, what do the Armenian Americans have? A brigade of little old ladies in wheel chairs, the last survivors of a genocide — and as such a suitable backdrop, of course, for Dana Milbank’s signature vapid, supercilious brand of drivel last Thursday.
No matter. Those little old ladies are going to win — at least well they should. Thanks to everything from Schindler’s List to Hotel Rwanda to The Pianist, even the dullest American theatergoer or TV viewer is reasonably sure who he’s supposed to root for when it comes to genocide and efforts to cover it up or baldly deny it. Paradoxically, the harder the Post and the Republic of Turkey try to flush the Armenian Genocide down the memory hole, the less they’ll be able to do it.