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The international community outside of Turkey widely regards the Armenian Genocide as the first modern genocide.
During World War I and shortly thereafter, 1.5 million ethnic Armenians were systemically slaughtered. First, Ottoman authorities purged intellectual and political leaders. Then, they either executed all able-bodied males in mass shootings or conscripted them into the army for forced labor — unprotected, soldiers prodded women and children with the barrels of their guns into the Syrian Desert where they faced nothing but certain death.
Newborn babies, eighty-year-old women, and everyone in between succumbed to dehydration and hunger by the thousands, often within sight of help and safety forbidden to them.
Despite 31 countries and 49 out of 50 states recognizing the mass killing as genocide, the U.S. Congress did not officially declare it one until yesterday, voting 405-11.
In the past, concerns about tenuous U.S. relations with Turkey thwarted attempts at a full vote.
Ten Republicans voted nay, we assume for that reason.
However, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) offered the most bizarre explanation for refusing to support the congressional resolution.
Fox News’ Greg Re reports:
Omar, in a statement explaining her vote of “present” on the resolution, also seemingly suggested that the century-old mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks may not have occurred at all. She asserted that “accountability and recognition of genocide should not be used as a cudgel in a political fight” but should instead “be done based on academic consensus outside the push and pull of geopolitics.”
The comments prompted accusations that Omar, again, was seeking to communicate a bigoted message while maintaining a veneer of wink-and-nod deniability — even as she has previously called for a boycott over alleged Israeli human-rights abuses, described the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as an instance in which “some people did something”, and asserted that “Israel has hypnotized the world.”
Omar’s office has sent this statement to CNN explaining her present vote: pic.twitter.com/Gpj198jx0p
— Haley Byrd (@byrdinator) October 29, 2019
Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib made history as the first Muslim women in Congress earlier this year, and within weeks, Omar was criticized by her own party for series of remarks deemed anti-Semitic — including her claim that Jewish support in Washington was “all about the Benjamins, baby.” (Tlaib, too, has also been accused of anti-Semitism in office.)
Congress has passed many resolutions condemning abuses against Native Americans and slavery. It has never passed a resolution condemning the Armenian genocide. That’s why Ilhan Omars explanation here rings hollow https://t.co/HztWDR8zGf
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) October 29, 2019
Political analyst Zaid Jilani noted that contrary to Omar’s claim, the U.S. has condemned both the treatment of Native Americans and the slave trade.
Others were quick to condemn the Minnesota lawmaker.
Should we also not boycott, divest from, and sanction one foreign country if we haven’t boycotted, divested from, and sanctioned all oppressive foreign countries? https://t.co/TwxBCmkJXU
— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) October 29, 2019
Her “present” vote on the Armenian genocide resolution is a bit tough to square with that. Not to say there aren’t real politique reasons to avoid enraging Turkey, there are, and it’s why the resolution has died a thousand deaths. But that’s not usually Omar’s thing.
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) October 29, 2019
I’ve been a vocal supporter of @IlhanMN but no more. There was absolutely no reason for her to not vote on something that is solid historical fact and use the typical world salad of denialists. I once saw her as a human rights defender.
— Hrag (@hragv) October 29, 2019