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Acknowledge The Ukrainian Genocide

Ukraine is pressing to have the United Nations recognise the Holodomor as genocide, and has called on Israel’s support for the resolution.  Though I am no fan of Yushchenko himself, I wish them luck.  The Ukrainian famine, the result of deliberate state starvation of millions of people, is one of the great genocides of the 20th century and should be called what it is.    

I await the outpouring of commentary that declares that the Ukrainian genocide is a matter that should be left to historians and kept out of politics, as all of Ankara’s apologists have argued for so long.  Somehow I don’t think we’ll be hearing from many of them this time, since they are presumably not working for the Kremlin as well.  Perhaps some will maintain a kind of grim consistency and talk about how the kulaks provoked the authorities into starving them, but I doubt it.  Making apologies for Talat and Enver is one thing, since most people have no idea who they are or what they did, but not too many people want to stand up for Stalin these days.  It would, of course, be no more outrageous and dishonest than what some have said about the Armenian genocide.  Obviously, when the perpetrator was the Soviet regime and the modern-day successor is a government that Washington disapproves of, it suddenly becomes much easier to speak of past genocides and point out the internal repression by the regime.  It suddenly becomes much less “controversial” to state the obvious.   

The tactics of denial are the same in Moscow as they are in Ankara: claims of genocide are deemed “propaganda” and the province of a particular ethnic group.  Yet both official denials of genocide are equally wrong and equally pernicious.  I applaud Ms. Shymko for her article.   

Ms. Shymko writes:

It’s time for Russia to make peace with its past, by showing a willingness to make peace with its neighbors. Acknowledging Stalin’s genocidal complicity in the 1932-33 state-sponsored Famine in Ukraine would be an important first step.

Note that this article is calling for the Russians to acknowledge the famine as genocide, which is a far more “provocative” step than calling on our own President to do so.  Moscow should acknowledge the Ukrainian genocide, but I think we all know that it will not.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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