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White House Press Sec Kayleigh McEnany Acknowledged the Armenian Genocide This Week, A Long-Awaited and Welcome Step

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White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany went further than any U.S. administration official in recognizing the Armenian genocide from the White House podium this week.

McEnany said Monday:

“… We’ve got a real problem in this country, when you have rioters, who I have listed of some of the examples of the abolitionists, there seems to zero understanding of history when you are defacing the statue of Matthias Baldwin, John Whittier and Ulysses S. Grant, there seems to be a lack of understanding of historical knowledge, when the Armenian Genocide memorial, remembering the victims of all crimes against humanity, including slavery is vandalized there seems to be a lack of historical understanding…”

There has of course been bipartisan recognition of the Armenian Genocide in the Senate and House. The Trump administration, like its predecessor, has used the term “Meds Yeghern” – the Armenian victims’ own phrase – to refer to it.

And the latest step forward, with McEnany using the word “genocide,” should be welcomed.

This year, on 24th of April, the Memorial Day of Meds Yeghern, the White House issued the following opening statement:

“Today, we join the global community in memorializing the lives lost during the Meds Yeghern, one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century.  Beginning in 1915, 1 and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in the final years of the Ottoman Empire.  On this day of remembrance, we pay respect to those who suffered and lost their lives, while also renewing our commitment to fostering a more humane and peaceful world.”

Meds Yeghern means “big atrocities/crime/catastrophe/carnage/mass murder” in Armenian, and is the adopted language of the victims themselves.

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Having had different descriptions in the past, only President Ronald Reagan as a sitting president has called the atrocities a genocide:

“Like the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of the Cambodians which followed it — and like too many other such persecutions of too many other peoples — the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten.”

– President Ronald Reagan, April 22, 1981

Now the Trump administration has already taken the most geopolitically uncomfortable step: using the ‘G word’.

McEnany should be applauded, and the genocide should now be formally recognized as such.


Wahagen Khabayan

Wahagen Khabayan is a National Pulse Writing Fellow based in Salzburg, Austria