This letter came to my mail address, with a request to post on my site, which I am doing without further comments:
In April 2006, I encountered Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in an Alexandria, VA restaurant. I approached Dr. Rice who was accompanied by First Lady Laura Bush and a secret service cadre. As I shook her hand, I broached the subject of genocide by commenting on my family’s support of action in Darfur. She replied, “I have been there.” Moving to the topic of the Armenian Genocide, I told her I was in Washington to urge my congressional delegation’s support of a reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide — a horrific event every American Armenian connects to. She simply stared back at me – and, without further comment, departed.
This February, I was again in Washington to promote Genocide reaffirmation. I met with first-term Colorado Congressman, Doug Lamborn. Mr. Lamborn, a former Colorado State Representative, had cosponsored a state resolution supporting Genocide recognition. As CO District 5 Representative, he cosponsored H. Res.106 in February 2007. However, that October, he withdrew his name. I wanted to know why!
During my meeting with Representative Lamborn, he told me he had rejected multiple State Department attempts to persuade him to withdraw from H. Res.106 because he understood the historical facts of the event. The turn came with an unsolicited call from General David Petraeus. He told Representative Lamborn that his support of the Armenian Genocide resolution threatened the safety of our troops in Iraq because of Turkey’s view of this sensitive political issue.
When I heard Mr. Lamborn’s explanation, I was stunned. All I could think was how could this happen in America — a country once viewed around the world as a beacon of moral justice. That America had actively and officially assisted my great grandmother Haiganoosh sue the Ottoman Empire for its government directed murder of her husband. My great grandfather, Dr. Nahabed Abdalian, an American educated medical doctor, ordained minister, and naturalized American citizen was murdered by Turkish gendarmes in Gurin, Turkey. In 1897, the U.S. Consulate in Sivas completed its investigation of his murder and provided an official recounting to the U.S. State Department and my great grandmother. (UCLA Professor Richard Hovannisian obtained a microfiche copy of this handwritten document and Tufts Professor Lucy Der Manuelian assisted me in its transcription.)
This present-day official Genocide denial policy (i.e. use every word but genocide) is our community’s legacy initiated by President George Herbert Walker Bush. The slippery slope was strengthened and reaffirmed by President William Jefferson Clinton who personally intervened to subvert passage of a House Genocide reaffirmation resolution. President George Walker Bush has grown genocide denial into an Administration-wide policy, aided by the sheepish compliance of our 110th Congress. As my own experience confirms, President Bush’s denial zeal has permeated into every pore of government — even reaching into the highest levels of our traditionally non-partisan military command. Another consequence of his proactive denial is the currently diminished Administration-proposed financial support package for the blockaded Republic of Armenia.
While both parties have been complicit in denigrating the first Genocide of the 20th Century, a change of course could come with our 2008 Presidential election. Senators Clinton and Obama have pledged to reaffirm the Armenian Genocide (Senator McCain would presumably maintain the current policy of denial). I would urge every American-Armenian to reflect on our presidential history of Genocide denial as they cast their vote this November.
And should our next President come to office with a pledged policy of Genocide reaffirmation, it is our community’s duty to our history to press for that commitment to be honored.
Pamela Barsam Brown
310 Overlook Drive
Boulder, CO 80305
303 499 9673