The Lessons of Armenia Should Not Be Lost

Illustration on remembrance of the Turkish genocide against Armenians 100 years ago by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Illustration on remembrance of the Turkish genocide against Armenians 100 years ago by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

What happened a hundred years ago is germane to the Middle East today.

FDD, By Clifford D. May, 29th April 2015 – The Washington Times:

Displayed outside the Turkish embassy in Washington last week was a large banner reading: “Armenian Genocide is an Imperialist Lie.” That claim might be amusing were the subject not so dreadful. The slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in 1915 was carried out by the Ottoman Empire.  It was therefore, by definition, an imperialist crime, one regarded by most experts as the first genocide of the 20th century. The notion that some other empire (which one?) has fabricated a slander against Turkey is ludicrous. Those who came up with that slogan must assume they are addressing a clueless audience.

One place to find clues is Efraim Karsh’s “Islamic Imperialism: A History,” published in 2006 by Yale University Press. Dr. Karsh notes that in the last quarter of the 19th century, a weakening Ottoman Empire (which was also an Islamic caliphate) was being “forced to give up most of its European colonies.” At about the same time, the empire’s Armenian population — Christians, whose rights were limited by their Muslim rulers — began to undergo a “nationalist awakening.”  Uprisings followed. “In a brutal campaign of repression in 1895-96, in which nearly 200,000 people perished and thousands more fled to Europe and America, Armenian resistance was crushed and the dwindling population cowered into submission.”

A few years later, however, nationalist aspirations resurfaced. Under European pressure, the Ottomans accepted a proposal for limited Armenian autonomy, “a far cry from the Armenians’ aspirations for a unified independent state” but a significant gain nonetheless. When the Ottoman Empire entered World War I, most of its Armenian subjects took pains to demonstrate their loyalty.  But a minority became revolutionaries, offering assistance to the Russians, confirming “the Ottoman stereotype of the Armenians as a troublesome people.”

In reaction, Armenians were “uprooted from their homes and relocated to concentration camps in the most inhospitable corners of Ottoman Asia. The Armenians’ towns and villages would then be populated by Muslim refugees, their property seized by the authorities or plundered by their Muslim neighbors.”

Armenians were ordered to give up their weapons. Those “who could not produce arms were brutally tortured; those who produced them for surrender … were imprisoned for treachery and similarly tortured; those found to have hidden their arms were given even harsher treatment.”

By 1915, with the Armenian population disarmed, “the genocidal spree entered its main stage: mass deportations and massacres.” At times, “the Turks attempted to preserve an appearance of a deportation policy, though most deportees were summarily executed after hitting the road.” Ottoman authorities sent others “out to sea, ostensibly to be deported, only to be thrown overboard shortly afterward.”

There were many Armenian towns in which all the men were exterminated, leaving the women to be raped. In addition, “thousands of young Armenian women and girls were sold” in newly established “slave markets.” Estimates of the total number of Armenians murdered over a period of more than two years range from 850,000 to 1.5 million.

In the early 1920s, in the aftermath of World War I, the defeated Ottoman Empire and Islamic caliphate were dissolved. The Republic of Turkey rose from its ashes. A strong argument can be made that it bears no responsibility for the crimes committed by the imperialist state it replaced.

On the other hand, modern Turkey continues to occupy Armenian lands. Mt. Ararat, where, according to legend, Noah’s ark came to rest after the great flood, is Armenia’s holiest site and a symbol of the nation. It can be seen from Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, among the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities. But Mr. Ararat rises from territory now claimed by Turkey.

Ironically – one also might say hypocritically — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rails at Israel for its “occupation” of Gaza, and the West Bank. Those territories were under Ottoman rule for centuries. They fell to the British following the Ottoman collapse. In 1948, Egypt seized Gaza, and Jordan seized Judea and Samaria, which it renamed “the West Bank.” In a defensive war in 1967, Israelis took control of both. Since then, they have repeatedly offered to help Palestinians establish their own state on these lands in exchange for peace. Palestinian leaders have declined. And Gaza, from which Israelis withdrew ten years ago, is ruled by Hamas, a terrorist group openly committed to exterminating Israel.

Today, a jihad – one that includes persecution, enslavement and slaughter — is again being waged against Christians throughout much of the Middle East and in Africa as well. Many of those carrying out these crimes consider themselves warriors of a new caliphate. The mainstream media has mostly avoided discussing the Armenian genocide as preface and precedent. But the media also has been reluctant to report on the very real possibility that we are now witnessing the final, historic eradication of ancient Christian communities from what we have come to call the Islamic world.

Another poster displayed at the Turkish embassy calls for “reconciliation” with Armenia. Surely, such a process must begin with truth-telling. What President Erdogan declared last week instead: “The Armenian claims on the 1915 events… are all baseless and groundless.”

Final point: In 1939, a generation after the Armenian genocide and a week before invading Poland, Hitler gave a speech to his commanders. He told them that his “war aim” was not merely territorial. Nazi Germany also sought “the physical destruction of the enemy.” He recognized that “weak Western European civilization” would not approve. But, he added, it will forget: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” That’s just one of several  reasons we should continue to do so.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and a columnist for the Washington Times. Follow him on Twitter @CliffordDMay

Also see:

Disagreement Among MB Fronts Over USCMO Statement on Armenian Genocide

Erdogan R4BIACSP, by Kyle Shideler, April 27, 2015:

As the Free Fire Blog noted last week, the Muslim Brotherhood umbrella organization the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) issued a statement supporting Turkey and downplaying calls to recognize the Armenian genocide. Now it appears the USCMO is receiving pushback from other Muslim Brotherhood front groups for the bad press generated by the press release. The American Muslim reports that USCMO member the Muslim Legal Fund of America was the first to begin to distance themselves from the USCMO release:

“It is not MLFA’s place nor is it part of its mission to question the Armenian genocide,” said Meek. “I apologize if the inclusion of MLFA’s name in this statement caused any confusion to our donors, supporters or anyone else.”

Meek said that he believes it is important for Muslim organizations to work together on issues of common concern. However, he said he will make it clear to concerned parties that MLFA’s name should not be included on any international statements made by any organization.

MLFA was not as resistant to controversial issues in 2003, when they accused the U.S. and Pakistani governments of “kidnapping” Al Qaeda terrorist Aafia Siddiqui. Siddiqui, a regular of the Muslim Brotherhood-connected Islamic Society of Boston, is serving an 86-year sentence for attempted murder of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and terrorism activities related to a prospective plot to blow up New York City landmarks including the Empire State Building.

The USCMO’s position also faced push back from University of California Berkley’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) which issued a statement including the following:

We also would like to express our shock and dismay in reaction to the recently published statement issued by the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), which includes otherwise pro-justice groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), that denies the reality of the Armenian genocide. The cowardly and overtly political move by these groups calls into question their commitment to the struggles for justice and self-determination that they claim to champion.

The UC Berkley-SJP is the founding chapter of the organization, which now operates on college campuses across the country and which has been accused of providing material support for Hamas. SJP was founded by Hatem Bazian, a radical campus professor with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood in order to establish a broader anti-Israel alliance of college students beyond the existing MB group the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA). Bazian is also a leading member of American Muslims for Palestine, a Brotherhood front organization which is also a USCMO member.

This is not the first time for Brotherhood-linked groups to show a public appearance of disunity. In the past these issues have centered over policy debates regarding whether achieving Muslim Brotherhood “Settlement” objectives in the United States were of more importance than fulfilling the Brotherhood’s obligation to support jihad, most particularly in Palestine. In their recent National Advocacy Day, for example, the USCMO purposefully divorced lobbying on behalf of Palestine from its overall effort, making the event a secondary (and less well-attended) day which raised criticism from some participants on twitter.

MB fronts in the United States have undertaken a very conscious policy of outreach, targeting perceived minority organizations on a wide range of “social justice” issues, and attempting to insinuate themselves into the discussion, as they did for example over the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.

Having successfully established deep ties with non-Muslim groups with a wide variety of interests, MB groups may now find themselves constrained as various groups fear losing outreach capability due to the risk of alienating partners with umbrella statements like the one issued by the USCMO.

On the other hand, the MB at the global level can ill-afford to alienate Turkey, which plays a key role in supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, in particular providing support for Hamas.  Turkish President Erdogan’s support for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s insurrection against the Egyptian government has also been widely publicized, along with a tight relationship with International Muslim Brotherhood figures like Qaradawi.

As with other cases where Brotherhood-linked groups have expressed public disagreements, such incidents should be viewed in the context of an internal debate regarding priorities of the Movement, but not necessarily as a long term disagreement or evidence of a wider split.

Commemorating The Armenian Genocide Centennial

1915

Published on Apr 23, 2015 by Brigitte Gabriel

100 years ago, the first genocide of the 20th century began. On that date, the Islamic Turks commenced their campaign of deportation, murder and starvation against Christian Armenians. As we observe this solemn anniversary, we should remember the repeated failure of the world community to act against genocide, and contemplate what we can do to stop genocide from occurring on our watch.
http://www.actforamerica.org

Also see:

Muslim Brotherhood Stands by Turkey over Genocidal Jihad of Armenians

Skulls of Armenians massacred in Urfa, surrounded by Armenian dignitaries and women from the women's shelter in Urfa's Monastery of St. Sarkis in June 1919. (Source: © Wikimedia Commons/AGBU)

Skulls of Armenians massacred in Urfa, surrounded by Armenian dignitaries and women from the women’s shelter in Urfa’s Monastery of St. Sarkis in June 1919. (Source: © Wikimedia Commons/AGBU)

CSP, by Kyle Shideler, April 23, 2015:

The always excellent Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch reports today on the decision of U.S. Muslim Brotherhood (MB) umbrella group the US Council of Muslim Organizations to issue a press release coming to the aid of Turkey, which is battling growing pressure in the United States and around the world to recognize the Armenian genocide, whose 100th anniversary will be marked this Friday April 24th. While the press release claims the MB groups “share the pain” of the Armenian community, it goes on to take a decidedly Pro-Turkish stance:

While Muslim Americans sympathize deeply with the loss of Armenian lives in 1915, we also believe that reconciliation must take into honest account the broader human tragedy of World War I. Muslim Americans expect our leaders to act accordingly to ensure that American-Turkish strategic relations are not damaged by a one-sided interpretation of the 1915 events.”

MB’s support for the Islamist government of Turkey, and especially its leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been well documented previously, support which Turkey has repaid both with support to for the Brotherhood’s armed wing in Palestine, Hamas, but also in supporting the MB leaders against the current Egyptian government of Al-Sissi, assisting the MB with ratcheting up violent tensions within Egypt through Turkish hosted media.

The Turkish government proudly displayed the USCMO’s endorsement on a government website. It’s not the first time the USCMO has noted its friendly relationships with Turkey. The USCMO website hosts a number of photos showing MB-linked individuals including Oussama Jammal,Osama Abu Irshaid, and Naeem Baig attending a Justice and Development (AKP) Party Convention.

Given the role the Muslim Brotherhood plays in denying and dissembling about jihad and terrorist violence generally, it’s no surprise to see them weighing in in defense of what was, after all a jihad against the Armenians. As scholar Dr. Andrew Bostom noted earlier this week for PJ Media, the reason there tends to be a “one-sided interpretation” of the events of the Armenian Genocide, is because that interpretation is based on facts.

In his column Bostom lays out numerous scholarly, contemporary and varied sources, both foreign, and indeed Turkish, detailing not only that the genocide against the Armenians occurred, but that it was carried out in the name of Jihad.

Bostom writes:

Contemporary accounts from European diplomats make clear that all these brutal massacres were perpetrated in the context of a formal jihad against the Armenians who had attempted to throw off the yoke of dhimmitude—non-Muslim subjection under Islamic law—by seeking equal rights and autonomy. For example, the Chief Dragoman (Turkish-speaking interpreter) of the British embassy reported, regarding the 1894-96 massacres:

[The perpetrators] are guided in their general action by the prescriptions of the Sheri [Sharia] Law. That law prescribes that if the “rayah” [dhimmi] Christian attempts, by having recourse to foreign powers, to overstep the limits of privileges allowed them by their Mussulman [Muslim] masters, and free themselves from their bondage, their lives and property are to be forfeited, and are at the mercy of the Mussulmans. To the Turkish mind the Armenians had tried to overstep those limits by appealing to foreign powers, especially England. They therefore considered it their religious duty and a righteous thing to destroy and seize the lives and properties of the Armenians.

Historian Bat Ye’or confirms this reasoning, noting that the Armenian quest for reforms invalidated their “legal status,” which involved a “contract” (i.e., with their Muslim Turkish rulers). This

…breach…restored to the umma [the Muslim community] its initial right to kill the subjugated minority [the dhimmis], [and] seize their property…

This most recent attempt to downplay the genocide against the Armenian and Assyrian population under the Ottoman Turks is just yet another reason why politicians ought to be extremely reluctant to associate with this latest MB lobbying group. Unfortunately, as we noted during the USCMO’s national advocacy day, not all lawmakers were willing to distance themselves from the USCMO, despite the presence of a USCMO official who had served as a webmaster for a Taliban fundraising website.

Perhaps this most recent statement downplaying the genocide of over a million Christians will better be able to convince lawmakers that USCMO is not an appropriate partner.

Jihad, Still: “100 Years On, Armenians in the Middle East Are Still On the Run”

Barack Obama speaks to members of congress and guests in the Rose Garden of the White House on Tuesday. The administration revealed that Obama will once again stop short of calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide. Photograph: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Barack Obama speaks to members of congress and guests in the Rose Garden of the White House on Tuesday. The administration revealed that Obama will once again stop short of calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide. Photograph: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

By Andrew Bostom, April 22, 2015:

From this April 21, 2015, report, “100 Years On, Armenians in the Middle East Are Still On the Run”:

As Armenians this week mark 100 years since the massacres that killed more than one million people, the fear and persecution faced by their ancestors remains alive today. With Syria and Iraq in chaos, Armenians in the Middle East are once again homeless and on the run. “We are having the same destiny as our grandfathers, as our ancestors, we are just like them,” said Annoush Garabadian, a 53-year-old Armenian woman who fled Mosul when ISIL captured the city last June. “We saw everything with our eyes like history was repeating itself.”… Not long after, neighbours sent them a picture showing their old house with ISIL’s logo painted on it. Their house and car now belonged to the so-called “caliphate”, and her son received a threatening phone call from ISIL militants saying if they ever returned, they would be beheaded.

These jihad depredations against today’s Middle Eastern Armenians illustrate an unchanged dynamic I described yesterday (3/21/15) at PJ Media. Such ongoing horrors, as I explained, are Why Congress Must Recognize the Jihad Genocide of the Armenians. The essay opens with a reference to my brief exchange with Fox News’s Sean Hannity, September 12, 2014, embedded just below, and elaborated in the extracts which follow:

During a Fox News Hannity panel appearance on Friday September 12, 2014, I alluded to the 1915-19 jihad genocide of the Armenian, Assyro-Chaldean, andSyrian Orthodox Christian communities of Anatolia, and northern “Mesopotamia,” i.e., modern Iraq, by the last Caliphate—the Ottoman Caliphate.

Notwithstanding the recent horrific spate of atrocities committed against the Christian communities of northern Iraq by the Islamic State (IS) jihadists, the Ottoman jihad ravages were equally barbaric, depraved, and far more extensive. Occurring, primarily between 1915-16 (although continuing through at least 1918), some 1 to 1.5 million Armenian, and 250,000 Assyro-Chaldean and Syrian Orthodox Christians were brutally slaughtered, or starved to death during forced deportations through desert wastelands. The identical gruesome means used by IS to humiliate and massacre its hapless Christian victims, were employed on a scale that was an order of magnitude greater by the Ottoman Muslim Turks, often abetted by local Muslim collaborators (the latter being another phenomenon which also happened during the IS jihad campaign against Iraq’s Christians).

I concluded my brief comments September 12, 2014 by noting, “we are only coming up on the 100th anniversary next year (i.e., 2015) of the Armenian Jihad Genocide.”

That solemn centennial commemoration will take place this Friday, April 24, 2015. Failure to formally recognize the genocidal anti-Christian jihad depredations of the World War I era, and its immediate aftermathpunctuated by the Armenian genocide—is a lingering moral stain on the U.S. body politic.

…The geo-political consequences of this profound ethical and intellectual delinquency—rooted in jihad appeasement, and denial—are once again manifest. Vestigial remnant Eastern Christian populations who barely survived those 20th century jihad depredations, may now face their final liquidation, wrought by contemporary jihadists.

Majority approval of H. Res 154 (the Armenian Genocide Truth and JusticeResolution) would mark a necessary, albeit very limited, first step in rectifying the continued tragic impact of this state of denial

The historical record of the jihad genocide of the Armenians a century ago, through the present day jihadist atrocities against Christian communities in the Middle East, and beyond, demonstrates that ancient Islamic jihad war theorycontinues to be acted upon by Muslims, regularly, across the globe, till now.  What remains is for the Muslim religious and political leaders to acknowledge, and then eliminate this genocidal practice.

A long overdue, mea culpa-based Muslim self-examination will never begin if the non-Muslim, especially Christian, targets of jihad genocide, remain in their own abject state of jihad denial.

U.S. politicians could help facilitate that Muslim re-evaluation process by not only demanding recognition of the Armenian genocide, but further identifying those mass killings as a jihad genocide, specifically

The essay includes background discussions defined by these subheadings: Why The Armenian Genocide Was a Jihad, and April 24th is an Appropriate Commemoration Day; American Witnesses to the Armenian Genocide: Observations from U.S. Diplomats, 1915-1917; and From the Armenian Jihad Genocide to The Holocaust.

Please read the essay in full, here.

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Update: Just came across this!

Uploaded on Jan 30, 2008 by hyebiz

Sen. Barack Obama Discusses Armenian Genocide

US Muslim Brotherhood Backs Turks on Armenian Genocide

Skulls of Armenians massacred in Urfa, surrounded by Armenian dignitaries and women from the women's shelter in Urfa's Monastery of St. Sarkis in June 1919. (Source: © Wikimedia Commons/AGBU)

Skulls of Armenians massacred in Urfa, surrounded by Armenian dignitaries and women from the women’s shelter in Urfa’s Monastery of St. Sarkis in June 1919. (Source: © Wikimedia Commons/AGBU)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, April21, 2015:

The U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations, a coalition of groups linked to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, defended Turkey ahead of Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day on Friday (April 24).

The Virginia-based Dar al-Hijrah mosque is going a step further and promoting a rally on that day to thank the Turkish government for its support of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The coalition published a statement on Monday, April 20, opposing any recognition of the genocide of Armenian Christians in 1915 by the Ottoman Turks. The USCMO claims that there hasn’t been a “proper investigation of these events by independent historians” and that the holiday risks alienating the Islamist government of Turkey.

The USCMO says it is “the largest umbrella group of mainstream Muslim American organizations.” It includes the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Muslim Alliance in North America, Muslim American Society (MAS), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the Muslim Legal Fund of America, the Muslim Ummah of North America, The Mosque Cares and, of course, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Additional Council members include the Mosque Foundation, Baitul Maal, the Islamic Center of Wheaton, United Muslim Relief and the American Muslim Alliance.

CAIR is recognized by the Justice Department as a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity with Hamas links. The United Arab Emiratesbanned CAIR and MAS as terrorist groups last year. ICNA teaches subversion and has a war criminal as one of its leaders. The Daily Beast caught AMP condemning the U.S. government’s outlawing of aid to “so-called terrorist organizations” and endorsing violence against Israel.

One of the leaders of USCMO, Mazen Mokhtar, was jailed on charges related to tax fraud, but the indictment laid out his connections to terrorism. He has declared support for Hamas and suicide bombings and ran a website that helped fundraise for Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

When an activist group named the United West approached Mokhtaron Capitol Hill during National Muslim Advocacy Day, he was asked about whether the Muslim Brotherhood exists in America. Moktar responded by repeatedly talking about how nice the weather was. Hussam Ayloush of CAIR responded similarly and said he did not know if the Brotherhood exists in America.

The USCMO statement praises Turkey as a member of NATO that “has taken on a unique regional and global leadership role in ensuring peace and prosperity for all.”

ThankTurkey-300x400Dar al-Hijrah, a large mosque with links to the Brotherhood and Hamas, sent a flyer to its membership promoting a rally on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day to thank the Turkish government for its “unwavering support of the oppressed people of the Middle East and around the world in their quest for ‘freedom and democracy.'”

The Islamist government of Turkey hosts a Hamas terror network and is anunabashed supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood. A “charity” banned as a terrorist front by Germany, Israel and the Netherlands continues to operate in Istanbul and has close ties to President Erdogan and his political party even though it has recruited human shields for Hamas.

The Turkish government is embroiled in a scandal due to its cover-up of its covert aid to Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria named Jabhat al-Nusra. In December, two dozen congressmen asked the Treasury Department to begin sanctioning Turkey for its sponsorship of terrorism.

Far from promoting moderation, the neo-Ottoman Islamism instilled by the Turkish government has resulted in skyrocketing anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism and support for terrorism.  Al-Qaeda’s Syrian wing is the most popular Syrian rebel force in Turkey, with 40% favoring its victory. Another Islamist rebel group, the Islamic Front, comes in second with 24%.

The Erdogan government is also rolling back freedoms and clamping down on social media. It surpasses even North Korea as the number one jailer of journalists. A reporter was just convicted of the “crime” of “liking” a Facebook post denigrating President Erdogan.

That is the Islamist government that the USCMO and Dar al-Hijrah is so fond of.

The rally promoted by Dar al-Hijrah echoes the language that the Turkish government uses to characterize its support of the Brotherhood and Hamas. When President Erdogan, defends the Brotherhood in Egypt, even as it declares jihad, he says he is standing up for “freedom” and “democracy.”

Islamists almost always use such appealing terminology while advancing their less appealing agenda. The Brotherhood’s political wing in Egypt, for example, went by the name of the Freedom and Justice Party instead of its own name.

The flyer distributed by Dar al-Hijrah lists a website: LetHistoryDecide.org. The website is dedicated to denying that the Ottoman Turk massacre of Armenian Christians qualifies as genocide. That is the purpose of the walk.

Dar al-Hijrah was apparently uncomfortable with directly stating the purpose of the event. Readers are led to believe that the event is just about thanking Turkey for supporting freedom. Unmentioned is that the event’s purpose is to push back against Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day and to express appreciation for Turkey’s support for the Brotherhood and Hamas.

On Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, millions of Christians and non-Christians who care for human rights will reflect upon the innocent lives lost at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. These powerful Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups will spend their day differently. They will be busy downplaying the atrocity and praising Turkey for supporting the Islamist ideology that perpetrated it.

Also see:

The Armenian Genocide and the Ethics of Remembrance

remFrontpage, April 15, 2015 by Vladimir Tismaneanu and Marius Stan:

“To conceal or deny Evil is the same as allowing a wound to bleed without bandaging it.”

This statement by Pope Francis in April 2015 was linked to the first official Vatican use of the word genocide to deplore and condemn the state-sponsored mass murders perpetrated against a huge civilian population a hundred years ago in what used to be the Ottoman Empire. The Pope is right: Forgetfulness, denial, and silence cannot but perpetuate a culture of complicity with Evil.

The massacre of a million and a half Armenians (men, women, elderly people, and children) initiated in April 1915 and appallingly completed by 1923, was the first genocidal experience of what an American historian called the age of social catastrophes. That exterminist cataclysm was the Armenians’ Holocaust. We use the term exterminist in the sense put forward by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen in his book “Hitler’s Willing Executioners.” The purpose was not just exclusion and elimination, but complete annihilation of the targeted collectivity, in this case the Armenians, later the Jews, the Gypsies, the Tutsis and so on. It was not a spontaneous explosion of murderous hatred, but a meticulously designed and methodically executed plan to physically destroy those labeled as sub-humans or even non-humans.

Killing an Armenian—or later a Jew, a Kulak, a Bosnian, any member of a community stigmatized as superfluous (a term introduced by Hannah Arendt)—was the same as getting rid of a pernicious insect. The hateful genocidal propaganda always referred to the “obnoxious vermin.” Symbolic dehumanization made way for physical termination. Ideology precedes and legitimizes the hecatomb. The ultimate goal is the ethnically or socially pure (and purified) community.

For Hitler, who openly admired Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and saw himself as a “Father of the Nation,”, the Armenian massacre (the term genocide had not been coined yet) was proof that humankind is quick to forget, that one should not be held back by moral reservations. Totalitarianism bets everything on opportunism, cowardice, and amnesia. And, most obviously, on sadism—be it social or racial.

In conversations with his minions, Hitler used to mention the following when explaining the “necessity” to exterminate the European Jews: “Who even remembers the Armenian annihilation nowadays?” What is truly terrifying is that many of those who committed these mass murders seemed normal people, persons who “wouldn’t hurt a fly” (a point made by Croatian writer Slavenka Drakulić in her book “They Would Never Hurt a Fly” ). They wouldn’t harm an ant, but mercilessly massacred women and children. And even took pictures of it…

Here is a copy of a famous painting by Arshile Gorky, born Vosdanig Adoian. Alongside creations by Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, Gorky’s work was American Abstract Expressionism’s moment of supreme glory. The artist was himself a genocide survivor, his mother died of starvation in 1918.

pl1It is admirable that Pope Francis urges humanity not to forget Evil and we agree with his stance. In the spirit of Albert Camus, Nadezhda Mandelstam, and Monica Lovinescu, we advocate the ethics of unforgetfulness. Because remembrance is always the result of a will not to forget Evil. The democratic ethos is rooted in this need to acknowledge the tragedies of the past. Forgiveness cannot be granted in the absence of repentance. Yet we dare to wonder whether the term “Stalinism” used by Pope Francis in his speech (together with Nazism) is clear enough to help understand that it comprises the communist crimes of the last century, including those perpetrated by Maoism. Just between 1958 and 1961, during the so-called “Great Leap Forward”, 45 millions of Chinese citizens died.

These crimes against humanity have been genocidal. They should be called by name, known, condemned, and commemorated with sorrow and empathy, regardless of what the various chancelleries specialized in the diplomatic concealing of the truth might say. Regardless of what the self-proclaimed experts in “linguistic hygiene” might say.

To conclude, we recommend here Charles Aznavour’s moving song “Ils sont tombés.”

Ils sont tombés sans trop savoir pourquoi
Hommes, femmes et enfants qui ne voulaient que vivre
Avec des gestes lourds comme des hommes ivres
Mutilés, massacrés les yeux ouverts d’effroi
Ils sont tombés en invoquant leur Dieu
Au seuil de leur église ou le pas de leur porte
En troupeaux de désert titubant en cohorte
Terrassés par la soif, la faim, le fer, le feu

Nul n’éleva la voix dans un monde euphorique
Tandis que croupissait un peuple dans son sang
L’ Europe découvrait le jazz et sa musique
Les plaintes de trompettes couvraient les cris d’enfants
Ils sont tombés pudiquement sans bruit
Par milliers, par millions, sans que le monde bouge
Devenant un instant minuscules fleurs rouges
Recouverts par un vent de sable et puis d’oubli

They Fell – text in English
They fell that year,
they vanished from the earth,
Never knowing the cause
Or what laws they’d offended,
The women fell as well
And the babies they tended.
Left to die left to cry
All condemned by their birth.

They fell like rain
Across the thirsty land,
In their hordes they were slain,
In their god still believing
All their pity and pain,
In that season of grieving
Called in vain all in vain
Just for one helping hand.
For no one heard their prayers,
In a world bent on pleasure
From others peoples cares
They simply closed their eyes
They craved a louder sound
In jazz and raggtime measure
The trumpets screamed till dawn
To drown the children’s cries.

They fell like leaves
This people its prime,
Simple men kindly men,
And not one knew his crime
They became in that hour
Like the small desert flower
Soon covered by the silent wind
In sands of time.

They fell that year
Before a cruel foe
They had little to give
But their lives and their passion,
And their longing to live
In their way
In their fashion
So their harvest could thrive
and their children could grow.
They fell like flies
Their eyes still full of sun
Like a dove its flight
In the path of rifle
That falls down were it might,
As if death were a trifle
And to bring to an end
A life barely begun.

And I am of that race,
Who died in unknown places
Who perished in their pride,
Whose blood in rivers ran,
In agony and fright
With courage on their faces
They went in to the night,
That waits for every man.
They fell like tears
And never knew what for
In that summer of strife
Of massacre and war
Their only crime was life
Their only guilt was being
The children of Armenia
Nothing less nothing more

Vladimir Tismaneanu is a professor of politics at the University of Maryland (College Park) and author of numerous books, including most recently “The Devil in History: Communism, Fascism, and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century.” Marius Stan is a Romanian political scientist, author of books in Romanian and Polish, and currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Bucharest. This essay was translated from Romanian into English by Monica Got.

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