Speak The Word — Courage or Hypocrisy?

The power of a word. Genocide.

A US House committee calls the Ottoman Empire’s last gasp in killing perhaps 1.5 million Armenians in the early 20th Century “genocide,” and now our troops in Iraq may be put at greater risk because of Turkey’s angry reaction.

Commenting on events halfway around the world, while ignoring your own problems at home, used to be called “Afghanistanism.”  The US House, which hasn’t been able to find the cojones to challenge, or even look squarely at, the Bush administration’s atrocities, decides it’s time to right a 90-year-old wrong an ocean and a sea away. Brilliant.

Turkey, an admirable ally in the current endless war, jails journalists who call the killings genocide. As I.F. Stone said about the South Vietnamese government we were propping up in our last endless war, “our allies are a pretty stinking bunch.”

But we are global hypocrites ourselves when we throw stones from our glass house. This country systematically killed millions of black slaves and Native Americans (the last US Army massacre of Indians, at Wounded Knee, took place only 25 years before the slaughter of Armenians started), and we are this minute killing Iraqi civilians in this wrong war in the wrong place.

Often, speaking powerful words takes courage. That’s not something Congress displays very often. Nor in this case.

— Bruce Benidt

6 thoughts on “Speak The Word — Courage or Hypocrisy?

  1. Becky says:

    What happened in Armenia or with Native Americans is inexcusable and should not be forgotten.

    But we, as those who operate today, have an obligation not to allow further genocide, torture or abuse of power TODAY in whatever form it rears its ugly head. We, especially those in power (hello, Senators Klobuchar and Coleman) must use our pulpits to say this is not right, and we will not tolerate it. That some recognize a 90-year-old act as an atrocity should be noted.

    Yet why are these same voices of power silent on genocide, rape and torture in Darfur? Why are their lips sealed on the looming famine in parts of Africa? Why have they spoken nothing on the ethnic cleansing, torture and rape in some fomer Soviet-bloc countries? Why is there no conversation about the one-in-five children who live in abject poverty in the United States, a statistic that increases to one in three for some ethnic and racial groups?

    It’s more than not casting stones in glass houses that bothers me. It’s the seemingly deliberate closing of eyes and covering of ears to the cries of millions that churns my stomach.

  2. Kelly Groehler says:

    Easier to postulate on past atrocities of others than to point the finger at our own past or present. Hypocrisy, indeed.

  3. Lewis says:

    the Bush administration’s atrocities

    Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Milosevic, Saddam, Amin, Pinochet, Franco, Castro…

    But Bush?

    To be blunt – and fair – anyone who uses the terms atrocity and Bush in the same phrase is some combination of ignorant, uneducated, simplistic, wishful or deluded.

    It’s refreshing to know that you all used to wield power of the pen under the Strib’s waning monopoly. But to your chagrin the dinosaur is gasping its last breath and the voice of reality is popping up all over the web, on radio and television.

  4. EMM says:

    Or perhaps, to be blunt and fair, it’s George W. Bush who is some combination of ignorant, uneducated, simplistic, wishful and deluded.
    He will undoubtedly go down in U.S. history as our worst president, ever.

  5. bbenidt says:

    Lewis, I know we’ll disagree, but I see the Bush adminstration’s atrocities as fighting a war that is making us less safe from terrorism rather than more safe; privatizing the military so we have people from Blackwater with no accountability shooting civilians; ignoring the damage that we are doing to the planet through overconsumption and pollution which will cause untold illness and death; increasing the disparity between rich and poor — and more.

    But even though we disagree, I appreciate your challenge and criticism. Keep at us. I don’t equate Bush with Pot or Stalin. Those tyrants were truly evil. George Bush seems to me, however, so harmful because he allows no dissent in his White House while he deals with matters of life and death. That is literally ignorance — ignoring — and that’s dreadfully irresponsible.

    And I’m not sure an Iraqi civilian killed by an American bomb feels any differently about being dead than did a dissenter killed by Stalin’s goons.

    And Becky, the victims of the Darfur violence and the starving poor in America can’t hire lobbyists in DC — which the Armenians have.

  6. jl says:

    Clarification for Lewis: Benidt and Carideo are the only Rowdys who “wielded the power of the pen under the Strib’s waning monopoly.” The rest of us were merely gouged by said pen.

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