Genocide Recognition– Passage Plus

Everyone’s getting all hot and bothered by the prospect of the U.S. Congress, presumably both houses thereof, actually passing such a bill this year. So? From the presidential point of view, it will be ignored, and Bush will go right on reneging on his campaign promise of recognition. He won’t even use the g-word. Consider that he’s said he will ignore congressional resolutions regarding the Iraq War, a far more pressing issue in current American policy. Obviously, we care more about setting straight the U.S.’historical position on the Genocide and using it to apply more pressure on Turkey. Obviously, that poor excuse for a country, as represented by its equally conflicted government, is among those all worked up over the possibility. So much so that they’ve flown one of their top brass, General Yashar Buyukanit, to DC to put the fear of God, er, Turkey among members of the House and Senate. They should refuse to even meet with this guy. As someone who as early as April of 1983 helped ANC activists hit 98 of 100 Senate offices in one day (when some argued I should have been working on my senior design project), I have to say I’m a bit troubled by how much importance we’ve come to attach to these resolutions. Initially, they were, among other things, a means of getting a foot into congressional doors. We’re past that now. Our presence in Washington is respected and known. We may not be anywhere near the bullies the NRA or AIPAC are, nor as effective as the Sierra Club, but we’re definitely on the map. So what’s the point of the resolution? It serves as affirmation. It provides comfort. It can be leveraged against Turkey’s denial. But, the most important role it serves is as the cornerstone for the realization of our larger deman’s. The most connected is the issue of reparations for damages resulting from the Genocide. The other, the issue of lands, while connected to the Genocide (we were forcefully removed via Genocide from those territories), stands independently. Whether or not the Genocide had occurred, liberating our homeland from foreign occupation was, would have been, and is an issue that requires resolution. In all this, one of Hrant Dink’s interpretations can also play an important role. The notion that recognizing the Genocide is good for Turkey and Turks. Denial is a problem for them, arguably as much as, perhaps even more than, for us. If we get Turkey (the state/government) and denier Turks over that hump, we’ve done them a great service (Imagine, THEY’ll owe US for getting THEM to confess to genocide!). This really struck me with great force Wednesday morning when, on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now, I heard Randall Robinson, founder of the Trans Africa Forum, observe, "There is no worse crime you can commit against a people than to strip them of their history". How true! We know this because of what we’ve been suffering as the "White Genocide". But the Turks are even worse off. Elif Shafak observed, when she spoke at UCLA in November of 2005, that young Armenia’s she meets are much more aware of their history than young Turks for whom history begins in 1923. Most interesting is the biggest culprit in this vein– "trkahayr", Ataturk, (father Turk) himself! In supposedly "modernizing"the country and its people, he rived them from any awareness of their existing/past selves! Talk about birthing an identity crisis! But let’s go back to the Genocide Resolution– this time around H. Res. 106, its place and consequences. Let’s say it passes. Let’s even say President Shrub abides by its spirit. What then? Do we fold? Do we close up shop and go home to assimilate? Is our job done? Have we lived up to our pledges to our ancestors? Have we done right by our nation? All debts due have been paid? I fear that far too many of us ARE actually in this state of mind. We’ve been so mired in Genocide recognition issues that a whole generation has grown to adulthood only being exposed to "the resolution"as being on, and equating it with, the Armenian political agenda, at least by way of Diasporan concerns. Obviously, and at the cost of redundancy, our graver issues are reparations and lands. These have to be spoken about more often and at greater length. Reparations and Lands. These must be restored to our consciousness, our list of daily concerns, along with the dream of repatriation to Western Armenia, not just to the existing Armenian states in the eastern part of our homeland. One way of accomplishing this goal, and getting practical benefits too, is to study other nations’and people’s experiences. Blacks in the U.S. have been pursuing reparations for slavery for quite some time. You wouldn’t know it by heeding only the mainstream media, but it is a very real and unresolved issue. The indigenous peoples of the Americas similarly have issues of reparations, but also territorial claims. These are the two easiest examples of places to go to study and learn from others’experience. Let’s take it one step further. What if some rational Turk comes to power in Turkey and is actually able to play the politics of the country such that he/she is able to declare, "Yes, we’re guilty. We committed genocide against the Armenia’s. We apologize."Subtext– "Now stop bothering us. Go away."Are we prepared for this? What if by some additional miracle, token, and totally insufficient, reparations are thrown into the mix? Are we prepared to respond appropriately? Are our friends’political minds ready to continue the struggle? More importantly, I ask again, are all of us ready to fight on? Let’s start talking these issues up, the way we did 30 and more years ago, when they were far more remote possibilities. Let’s prepare. Let’s conduct geographical, historical, and legal research to know what the fine ins-and-outs of the legal bases, money amounts, and actual territorial boundaries– down to the smallest hill and shallowest dale– for our claims are. Let’s "kick it up a notch". Think about it, how much more appealing is the allure of lands, HOME, than some simple acknowledgement by the perpetrator of its guilt? We know that. We seek culpability and its attendant atoning. H. Res. 106’s passage is but the first, tiny, step to that end. Let’s go get ’em!

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