In New York’s Times Square on Sunday afternoon, Armenians, documentary filmmakers, politicians and historians who refuse to allow the nearly successful genocidal campaign by the Ottoman Turks to be forgotten, gathered to mark the 93rd year of the atrocity and of the Turkish denials.

The two-hour event featured the usual speeches – you know, that quote by Adolph Hitler that no one speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians, the response by Armenian-American writer William Saroyan about the resilience of the Armenian people. Notably, however, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) promised to resurrect the Armenian Genocide resolution in Congress, and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) vowed to derail the appointment of Marie L. Yovanovitch as ambassador to Armenia if she refuses to characterize “the events of 1915” as “genocide” – just as he blocked the appointment of Richard Hoagland for that reason. (BTW, for the 8th year in a row President Bush marked “Armenian Remembrance Day” on April 24th by once again using mealy-mouthed euphemisms – “mass killings and forced exile,” “epic human tragedy” – instead of “genocide.”)

French philosopher and journalist Bernard-Henri Lévy explains the parallels between the Armenian Genocide and the Jewish Holocaust (video link), and argues in favor of criminalizing speech that denies either crime against humanity. As an American The Stiletto does not favor such free speech restrictions, but Lévy’s argument offers an illuminating perspective on the crime of genocide. Here is a snippet: 

One of the things which characterizes and distinguishes genocide is …   at the very moment the criminal act is carried out it already incorporates its own denial. … The Jews know it well and the Armenians knew it before them. For the crime to be perfect it has to be traceless. And for it to be traceless it has to be annihilated even from the memories of the survivors and descendants. … And this is the reason revisionism can rightfully be qualified as the ultimate stage of genocide.

Thus, each time the Turkish government denies the genocide occurred – or portrays the victims as traitors to the Ottoman Empire – their crime against humanity is perpetuated against the survivors and their descendents.   

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog, chosen an Official Honoree in the Political Blogs category by the judges of the 12th Annual Webby Awards (the Oscars of the online universe) along with CNN Political Ticker, Swampland (Time magazine) and The Caucus (The New York Times).

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