I’ve waited all my life for an American president to speak a full measure of truth about it the Armenian genocide.
Joe Biden did it on Saturday.
I’ve had my differences with Biden in the past and will certainly have them in the future. But I will always remember that he put America on the right side of history when on this year’s day of remembrance of the Armenian Genocidehe used the word his predecessors had avoided.
Successive presidents of the United States, Democrats and Republicans, issued statements on April 24th recognizing the Meds Yeghern, the great calamity, as the Armenians made historical reference to the terrible events of more than a century ago. However, they opposed the use of the term jurist and jurist Raphael Lemkin coined to describe this crime against humanity: genocide. They did not want to offend an American ally, the Turkish government, which has long denied the mass murder of Armenians – and is pressuring other governments to do the same.
Biden ended the lie of omission.
“Every year on this day we remember the lives of all those who were killed in the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman era, and we re-commit ourselves to prevent such an atrocity from ever happening again,” said the president said in a statement released on Saturday.
From April 24, 1915, with the arrest of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople by the Ottoman authorities, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred or marched to their deaths in an extermination campaign. We honor the victims of the Meds Yeghern so that the horrors of what happened are never lost to history. And we remember that we are always vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms.
It is necessary to expand the language of truth about this genocide and others throughout history because the language of denial is so insidious.
I learned that as a child. For me, there was no question that the Armenian genocide was real because I grew up with Armenians who survived it – and who then made their way to a city of refuge in the middle of the United States.
I was born in this city: Racine, Wis. I came of age in the Racine County Courthouse, where my father was the assistant district attorney. When I was a kid, he took me to the courthouse every morning. I spent my days running around this remarkable building, hanging out in courtrooms, chambers of justice, and clerks with Armaganians and Gulbankians and all the other Armenian Americans who became such an important part of the city’s legal community.