To his credit, Joe Biden has become the first sitting president formally to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide since it occurred over a century ago. On Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, April 24, 2021, the American president issued a statement opening with the following words:
Each year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring. Beginning on April 24, 1915, with the arrest of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople by Ottoman authorities, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination.
Along with the 1.5 million Armenians, the Turks exterminated more than another one million Christians—including 750,000 Greeks and 300,000 Assyrians, as underscored by Congress’s Resolution 296. Passed in 2019, it acknowledges “the campaign of genocide against Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Arameans, Maronites, and other Christians.” As the Guardian recently noted, “The slaughter is widely viewed as a crime on a monumental scale – and a grim precursor to the Nazi Holocaust.”
Successive Turkish regimes have vehemently denied that any genocide took place; all deaths, they claim, were uncalculated byproducts of war. Similarly, due to its status as a NATO ally—a status which has greatly soured in recent years—successive U.S. presidents failed to acknowledge Turkey’s role: Ronald Reagan passingly referred to the Armenian Genocide though without formally acknowledging it. George H. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump never formally acknowledged it. When he was running for president in 2008, Barack Obama professed his
firmly held conviction that the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable…. [A]s President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide…. America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. I intend to be that president.
Obama reneged on his word—including on the Armenian Genocide’s 100th anniversary, which passed under his tenure.
Accordingly, Joe Biden is to be commended for being the first U.S. president to acknowledge the genocide.
An even more laudable next step would be to acknowledge the current genocides and hate speech fueling them—and take steps against them, as Biden said he would in his recent April 24 statement recognizing the Armenian Genocide:
Today, as we mourn what was lost, let us also turn our eyes to the future—toward the world that we wish to build for our children. A world unstained by the daily evils of bigotry and intolerance, where human rights are respected, and where all people are able to pursue their lives in dignity and security.
Meanwhile, Turkey is all but spearheading a new genocide against Armenians, most recently in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, which again erupted into armed conflict in late 2020. Turkey sponsored and transported Islamic terrorists to the disputed region, where they committed horrific atrocities against Armenians and their places of worship, including by such as “tortur[ing] beyond recognition” an intellectually disabled 58-year-old Armenian woman by hacking off her ears, hands, and feet—before murdering her. Her family was only able to identify her by her clothes.
As Nikol Pashinyan, Armenia’s prime minister, observed in October 2020: “Why has Turkey returned to the South Caucasus 100 years [after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire]? To continue the Armenian Genocide.”
Even inside Turkey, hate speech against Armenians predominates, and begins in public school. Every day Turks—men and women—regularly and openly profess their greatest desire is to decapitate Armenians.
Turkey is, moreover, far from the only Muslim nation engaged in “daily evils of bigotry and intolerance,” which we need to “remain ever vigilant against,” to quote Biden. What several international organizations have referred to as a “genocide” of Christians at the hands of Muslims is currently taking place in Nigeria—as well as in Mozambique, South Sudan, and other sub-Saharan nations—and in dire need of being acknowledged so that efforts at rectifying the situation can begin.
Several more examples of other nations currently engaged in genocides appear here.
In his statement, Biden said, “[W]e remember so that we remain ever-vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms…. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated.”
Unfortunately, all of this is happening again, and at an alarming rate. As one example, 340 million Christians around the world—especially the Islamic world—are currently experiencing serious persecution. As commendable as it is for Biden to have recognized the Armenian Genocide, turning his attention to those who are currently experiencing hate and genocide would be far more practical—it would save lives—than acknowledging history.