President Bush Once Again Issues An Insulting Statement on April 24

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By Harut Sassounian
California Courier Publisher

Can anyone understand why Pres. Bush keeps on issuing these offensive statements year after year on the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide? If officials in the White House or the State Department think that by issuing such statements they are scoring points with the Armenian community, they are sadly mistaken. These officials should know that the one or two Armenians, who may be helping them draft these statements, are giving them very bad advice. In view of the fact that these annual April 24 statements are turning off all Armenian Americans, Pres. Bush should not be surprised if hardly any Armenian supports him in his campaign for re-election next year.

As in the past two years, Pres. Bush issued on April 24 a statement that amazingly says everything but the word genocide. Once again, the wordsmiths of the Bush administration have been laboring long and hard to come up with every other word in the English dictionary except the one word that most aptly describes the subject matter. Imagine the President of the United States issuing a statement on the Jewish Holocaust without calling it a holocaust. How would the Jewish community react if he simply called the Holocaust "a tragedy"? Yet, this is exactly what Pres. Bush has been doing to Armenians in the past three years. Here is a sample of the verbal gymnastics that the President engaged in this year: "horrible tragedy," "mass killings," "forced exile," "appalling events," "great calamity," "the suffering that befell Armenians in 1915," "a tragedy for all humanity," and "horrendous loss of life."

To make matters worse, the President chose this year to make an indirect reference to the discredited and disgraced Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission. Pres. Bush's highly complimentary words confirmed that this initiative, funded by the U.S. government and supported by Turkey, is intended to subvert the proper recognition of the Armenian Genocide under the guise of dialogue and reconciliation.

It is mind boggling that the President of the United States would insist on making a statement on every April 24 that Armenian Americans do not want him to make. Both the Armenian National Committee of America and the Armenian Assembly of America denounced this year's statement and rejected the evasive and euphemistic words used as a substitute for genocide. Pres. Bush also ignored the wishes of 168 members (almost 40%) of the House of Representatives who sent him a joint letter two weeks ago requesting that he refer to the Armenian Genocide as a genocide in his annual statement.

Even more seriously, Pres. Bush chose to ignore his own campaign pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Obviously, if he is not going to take his own words seriously, he is not going to heed the words of Members of Congress or the Armenian community.

Armenians obviously do not need the President of the United States to confirm to them that they were the victims of genocide. They know that as a fact regardless of what words the President or anyone else chooses to use to describe the Armenian Genocide.

Armenian Americans should inundate the White House with complaints regarding Pres. Bush's offensive April 24 statement and his breach of promise by sending a Webfax to the White House by logging on: www.anca.org. Later this week, as the President will be visiting California, Armenians should greet him with picket signs in San Diego on Thursday and Santa Clara on Friday to remind him that he has not kept his campaign promise on the Armenian Genocide. Pres. Bush and his political advisors should have no doubt that as the presidential campaign heats up in a few months, Armenian protestors would hound the President at his every appearance throughout the country raising serious questions about his credibility. Next year, Armenian Americans and their friends in Congress should initiate a letter writing campaign respectfully requesting that the President not say anything on April 24. Not making a statement at all is preferable to saying something insulting on this very sacred occasion.

Finally, various Turkish circles astoundingly expressed their delight last week that Pres. Bush did not use the word genocide in his April 24 statement. Imagine how shameless some people must be to celebrate the fact that the President of the United States accused them only of "mass killings and forced exile of countless Armenians in the final days of the Ottoman Empire!" The proper word to describe such people is "anamot" in Armenian, "sherefsiz" in Turkish, and "shameless" in English.