Nevada’s Titus Leading House Drive Urging Library of Congress to Use Armenian Genocide

ANCA Titus LOC Letter 16x9 feature
Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus is leading a Congressional effort calling on the Library of Congress to properly categorize the Armenian Genocide in its subject heading list.

Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus is leading a Congressional effort calling on the Library of Congress to properly categorize the Armenian Genocide in its subject heading list.

Ask your U.S. Representative to Co-Sign this Bipartisan Congressional Letter

WASHINGTON—Representative Dina Titus (D-NV) is collecting the signatures of her U.S. House colleagues on a letter asking the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla D. Hayden, to correct the outdated and inaccurate Armenian Massacres subject heading to Armenian Genocide in the wake of last year’s near-unanimous passage of the Congressional Armenian Genocide resolution, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

In the letter, legislators share with Dr. Hayden that they are writing “to ask that the Library of Congress, an agency of the legislative branch and the research arm of the U.S. Congress, use the historically accurate term “Armenian Genocide” in its subject heading for books and other materials regarding the Ottoman Empire’s intentional, systematic, and deliberate mass murder, deportation, and exile of more than one and a half million Armenians between 1915 and 1923.”

The letter spearheaded by Rep. Titus comes in the face of a June 19, 2020 Library of Congress correspondence informing the ANCA that it would not make this change, even in light of Congressional recognition of the Armenian Genocide, because it deferred to the White House and State Department. The Titus letter, notes that “while we understand the Library of Congress has said it defers to the president and State Department on terminology, we do not believe that determinations of fact by an agency of the legislative branch should be made for political reasons or under pressure from foreign governments.”

Rep. Dina Titus

Rep. Dina Titus

The letter makes the case that: “the current subject heading, “Armenian Massacres,” is outdated, having been created before Raphael Lemkin coined the term genocide and prior to the 1948 adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.” It goes on to argue that “the existing heading is also inconsistent with the broad, near-universal academic consensus recognizing the Armenian Genocide as a clear case of genocide as reflected in numerous resolutions, letters, and statements by the International Association of Genocide Scholars.”

“We share the view expressed by Congresswoman Titus and her colleagues from both sides of the aisle that the phrase “Armenian Massacres” – in modern usage – conceals more than it reveals,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “It’s time for the Library of Congress to get this right.”

The full text of the Titus letter is provided below.  Proponents of the Library of Congress changing the Armenian Massacres subject heading to Armenian Genocide can urge their U.S. Representative to cosign the Titus letter by taking action.

Text of Congressional Letter Led by Rep. Dina Titus Calling on the Library of Congress to Properly Categorize the Armenian Genocide

September xx, 2020

Dr. Carla D. Hayden
Librarian of Congress
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave SE
Washington, DC 20540

Dear Dr. Hayden,

We write to ask that the Library of Congress, an agency of the legislative branch and the research arm of the U.S. Congress, use the historically accurate term “Armenian Genocide” in its subject heading for books and other materials regarding the Ottoman Empire’s intentional, systematic, and deliberate mass murder, deportation, and exile of more than one and a half million Armenians between 1915 and 1923. We also ask that all libraries, offices, services, and other entities within the Library of Congress use the accurate term “Armenian Genocide” in relevant displays, exhibitions, reports, presentations, conferences, lectures, websites, brochures, and other official events and publications.

The current subject heading, “Armenian Massacres,” is outdated, having been created before Raphael Lemkin coined the term genocide and prior to the 1948 adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Lemkin himself cited the massacres of Armenians as a definitive case of genocide. In 1951, the United States, in a written statement submitted to the International Court of Justice, affirmed that the destruction of Armenians met the U.N. definition of genocide.

The existing heading is also inconsistent with the broad, near-universal academic consensus recognizing the Armenian Genocide as a clear case of genocide as reflected in numerous resolutions, letters, and statements by the International Association of Genocide Scholars. Additionally, it is contrary to the U.S. record, including President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 Proclamation; resolutions adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives in 1975 (H.J.Res.148) and 1984 (H.J.Res.247); and, most notably, near-unanimous resolutions passed by the House (H.Res.296) and Senate (S.Res.150) in 2019 that state the sense of Congress that it is the policy of the United States to recognize the Armenian Genocide and to reject any denial of this crime.

Although originally created to serve legitimate academic and research purposes, the term “Armenian Massacres” has evolved into a euphemistic phrase often deployed to diminish the full historical, moral, legal, and contemporary meaning of the Armenian Genocide. In its modern usage, the outdated phrase conceals these horrific crimes.

While we understand the Library of Congress has said it defers to the president and State Department on terminology, we do not believe that determinations of fact by an agency of the legislative branch should be made for political reasons or under pressure from foreign governments. The use of the term “Armenian Genocide” by the Library of Congress would help paint an accurate picture of history and rightly honor the victims of this atrocity. Thank you for your attention to this request.

Sincerely,

Authors

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One Comment;

  1. Bedros said:

    My guess is that the Library of Congress has many documents that refer to the Armenian Genocide as a genocide.
    To use the term throughout the library would therefore be consistent.

    What does the “American Library Association” have to say about this matter? After all, it has featured books on the Armenian Genocide. For example:
    http://www.ala.org/yalsa/booklistsawards/booklists/outstandingbooks/2009/history

    USC (which has the Institute of Armenian Studies) also has libraries: https://libguides.usc.edu/libsci/associations
    Surely USC has something to say about this matter.

    Armenian organizations should have people stand in front of the Library of Congress and pass out flyers which explain the problem.

    Libraries are not supposed to censor. Yet that is exactly what the Library of Congress is doing.

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