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Tropico Perspective:

Ignoring genocide is inexcusable

April 21, 2010|By Michael Teahan

It is difficult to make a more compelling case for the Armenian Genocide resolution working its way through Congress than to recognize the suffering of a people for whom the word “genocide” was invented. There are, even for those without the gene for empathy, damn good reasons to care. Reasons that go beyond the tragedy of the original event.

How we choose to remember the Armenian Genocide will say a lot about who we are as a people. This is no longer about the choices of the Turkish government or the actions of the Ottoman Empire, but the active role some in this country are about to play as accomplices after the fact. To deny a historical fact for political expediency, or to say that it doesn’t matter because it was another people or another time is to take an active role in the crime. The truth is supposed to matter.

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For a senator or member of Congress to vote against the resolution means that they can never be trusted. It means that they are perfectly willing to lie in service to a political agenda. In the face a politically sensitive fight, I suppose that a politician can make a case for anything. I think, though, that when the truth becomes a commodity that can be bargained, it starts to lose its meaning.

It is that willingness to lie that is the core issue. It means that when we expect to get straight answers about health care, banking regulations or global warming, we will never be able to trust that the answer isn’t colored by a political motivation in contravention to the truth.

If a politician is willing to whitewash the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent victims in service to the ego of a foreign power, selling out the voter to the highest political contributor is all too easy a task.

In some respects, this is an easy litmus test for how dishonorable a politician can be.

More daunting than all of this is what it means to the victims of genocide not yet born. If politicians outside Texas are given a pass on rewriting history, it becomes a license to kill. Whole generations are now being wiped out because the victor controls the story. We rarely hear of Darfur, and our outrage over the atrocities in Bosnia was tempered by our own bias toward the victims — many of whom happened to be Muslim.

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