LA Times editorial: President Biden, call it by its name – the Armenian genocide

President Biden has an opportunity this month to use honest and accurate terminology in describing the Ottoman Empire’s killing of more than 1 million Armenians a century ago, the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board writes.

“When the anniversary of the start of the massacre arrives, he can and should call it a genocide, a term that only one president — Ronald Reagan — has previously used in that context. And even then, Reagan made the reference as an aside in a proclamation about another atrocity, the Holocaust, the editorial reads.

The editors say it’s dumbfounding that calling what happened to the Armenians “genocide” is even debatable. It’s like saying, “You know, if we don’t call the time when the river water raged down Main Street a flood, then the damage wasn’t so bad.”

“And it was bad, a crime against humanity whose pain resonates all the more through history because global governments have been slow to recognize it and some factions have intransigently refused to acknowledge the truth,” the article reads.

“Why is whether to call the massacre of Armenians a genocide even an issue? Because the Turkish government has steadfastly refused to accept that its forebears in the Ottoman Empire committed genocide, a position unmoored from the facts and the overwhelming consensus of serious historians,” LA Times writes.

“The Turkish government may cling to this delusion, but the rest of the world does not, and should not, have to indulge it. And, in fact, many governments don’t. More than two dozen have taken formal stances declaring the Armenian genocide,” the article continues.

The editors say President Obama had a golden opportunity to fulfill a campaign promise and drop the pretense in 2015, the centenary of the start of the Armenian genocide, but stopped short despite using the Armenian term for it, meds yeghern, and stating that “beginning in 1915, the Armenian people of the Ottoman Empire were deported, massacred and marched to their deaths. Their culture and heritage in their ancient homeland were erased. Amid horrific violence that saw suffering on all sides, one and a half million Armenians perished.” The Trump administration stuck with that position, too.

“That brings us to Biden, who arguably entered the Oval Office with the deepest and broadest understanding of U.S. foreign policy of any newly inaugurated president since George H.W. Bush. But he also has historically positioned himself as a moderate pragmatist. To be sure, foreign policy can be a multidimensional chess match in which the idea isn’t necessarily to win, but to make sure your opponents lose. But here, what’s important is the truth and an honest recognition of history. Biden needs to call the Armenian genocide by its name,” the article concludes.

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