House Passes Armenian Genocide Recognition Resolution, 405-11
The House on Tuesday overwhelmingly reaffirmed that the U.S. government should recognize the century-old killings of 1.5 million Armenians as a genocide.
The resolution, which is not legally binding, marked the first time in 35 years that either chamber of Congress labeled as genocide the mass killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, which is now modern-day Turkey, between 1915 and 1923 . A similar House resolution passed in 1984.
Previous efforts to pass resolutions recognizing the Armenian genocide have run into determined opposition from presidents of both parties and the Pentagon. Indulging Ankara’s genocide denialism has been the standard practice of the U.S. government for decades, and it is good to see the House break that ugly pattern. There has long been a misguided belief in Washington, encouraged by lobbying efforts backed by the Turkish government, that Congress should not pass a resolution acknowledging the genocide for what it was for fear of alienating the Turkish government, but this was always a terrible trade-off. Acknowledging the truth about the Ottoman Empire’s atrocities against Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, and other Christian minorities during this period does not have to have any bearing on the modern U.S.-Turkish relationship, but the Turkish government insists on linking the two together. The relationship with Turkey has gone down the drain anyway, and what did U.S. indulgence of genocide denial achieve except to give cover to those that want to erase and rewrite history? The resolution is a symbolic one, but if ever there were an appropriate subject for a symbolic resolution it would have to be this.
There will probably be more disingenuous arguments about the need to avoid “politicizing” history in response to the resolution’s passage, so it is important to note that it is the Turkish government that has been seeking to block and stifle official recognition of the genocide for decades. It is only because of concerted political action by genocide denialists that it has taken this long for the House to pass this resolution. After a very long time, the genocide denialists lost this fight.
The roll call for the vote can be found here. Only 11 hawkish Republicans voted against the resolution. It is unfortunate that it took the deterioration in U.S.-Turkish relations over Syria to make it politically easier to pass the resolution, but it is far better that the House passed it now than to wait for another opportunity that might never come. The passage of the resolution is a victory for the Armenian-American community, and it is also an important statement that we must remember the truth about genocide and crimes against humanity.