Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Progress from Genocide Denial??!!?!!

Along the long global march towards technological progress and the expansion of our scope as individuals, our sense of morality and ethics has concurrently evolved. The progression of morality does not occur at the same rate throughout the world, but in most modern nations, what was once considered common behavior is now becoming obsolete. For example, slavery, which was once acceptable in various societies, is now obsolete as a social institution. Other examples of archaic beliefs include cannibalism, human sacrifice, medical procedures like trepanation, etc. Various other beliefs have been completely overturned, largely based on the scientific method, and technological advances. The reasons for these trends are debatable, but once comes away realizing that our sense of morality, ethics, justice, and equality have all progressed consistently. There will always be pockets of resistance, but eventually, even the most conservative positions will seem archaic. For example, if we take Western Europe in the late 19th century, many progressives (for their time) recognized that those of African extraction were born free and should never be thought of as slaves. Yet, even the most progressive and liberal individuals felt that they were superior in race to these very same Africans. Although such belief can still be encountered, many of the progressives today, recognize that race is largely a construct of our need to categorize, and that ultimately, there is not such thing as a superior race. Most of this modern progress was brought forth from the fallout of the Eugenics movement, and the Nazi regime's infatuation with superiority.

Having largely described the progressive trends that has been described as a Zeitgest (German for current at some point in time), it becomes clear why the thought of another event with mass casualties and large scale warfare like that from WWII is harder and harder to imagine. Hopefully, diplomacy is starting to win out over the need to launch such global scale wars. In fact, the unfavorable opinion of many from the current Iraq war makes us realize the loss of life to such ill conceived wars is become more and more unbearable to people. Thought the loss of life from Iraq from a military standpoint is less that that from the Vietnam war, people are less tolerant of such casualties. Furthermore, the loss of civilian life cannot be underestimated. We now have a deeper understanding of just how many lives these wars cost, thanks to a larger net of global information.

With social progress in mind, we must never forget how far we've come ethically and morally. In order to continue to move forward, we must accept our previous moral indiscretions and move on accordingly. This is why the Armenian Genocide Resolution in Congress is such an important event in the minds of many Armenians. The Turkish Government fears that recognition of the Genocide will result in restitutions to the families of the survivors. The truth is, restitution aside, it's our moral duty and obligation as human beings to begin to accept such acts and bear personal responsibility for such events. Another issue in Turkish denial is that the Modern Turkish people cannot fathom how their ancestors were able to accomplish such an act when they themselves have progressed. Yes, there are extremist elements in Turkey, and the Kurds are to some extent suffering similar fates, but even so, most enlightened Turks can't imagine massacring a people and culture. Yet, the overwhelming evidence, and the total destruction of the Armenian presence in Eastern Turkey is pretty damning and conclusive evidence as to which culture was on the wrong side of the Genocide. If Turkey was truly objective, why go to all the trouble erasing the past as it pertains to Armenians?

Worse then the Turkish denial, was what seemed to be the silent approval by certain allies of Turkey (Such as the United States and Israel, oh the Irony) because ultimately, Turkey provided friendlier to the interests of those states then other nations in the area. During the Cold War, Turkey was critical in Containing the Soviet Union, and helping support Israel. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Turkey has allowed itself to be further exploited by the West for profit. Our ethics and morality,especially in the sphere of government, obviously haven't evolved to where the majority think that profit is less important then the well being of others.

Granted, some may argue that due to current circumstances of the volatile Middle East region, acceptance of the Armenian Genocide measure by Congress will endanger the American Troops, and give free reign for Turkey to behave according to national interests. Well, if that's how an American ally will behave, "threatening to endanger our troops", then they aren't really allies in the first place (brings to mind that quote, "with friends like these, who needs enemies"). Besides, waiting for a perfect moment of acceptance of the measure will never occur, because the world is always in a state of flux, and there never is a perfect moment. As sure as the Germans recognized the Holocaust then, the Turks must recognize the Armenian Genocide. Some Cynics will argue that should the Armenian Genocide be accepted, then why not the Hawaiian Genocide, the Native American Genocide, the current Darfur Genocide, among many others. Well, why not accept all these events as genocide and move on. Throughout history, it has been shown again and again that there will always be powerful states, or societies trying to destroy weaker ones. Some are done in the name of god or gods, others in the name of the holy land (nationalism), still others in the name of xenophobia, internal strife, etc. Yet, all these events have a common link and that is that we must recognize so that we can move forward.

Should the Armenian Genocide Resolution not pass the House, or be blocked as it has been in the past, then whatever values those in Congress who didn't support the measure purport to have are completely groundless. The level of hypocrisy among these supposed progressive individuals is staggering. Ultimately, this isn't just a resolution for Armenians, it allows others who have been effected by such measures, such as the Japanese who were interred in US concentration camps during WWII, or Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, African Americans, to come together and build a coalition to prevent such tragedies from every happening again and stop those that are currently in progress (Palestine, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Iraq.....)

It is my hope that humanity will view the early 21st century as the critical moment in time when people stopped living for materialism or hatred of others, but progressed to accept all of humanity as a singular race. We as a species are obligated to help not only each other, but the world that we live in. We must accept and in due course, progress further from these shackles which restrain us to our past. Will civilized discourse and diplomacy win over war and genocide? Will we remain ignorant of other's inalienable right to freedom? Well progress lead us to view our current times as we now view the Middle Ages? Will we stop viewing the world in Black and White, and start reasonably assessing the gray areas in between? These, and many other similar questions should be on the forefront of everyones mind.

No comments: