April 25, 2009

Why would you do that?

Read this. I've never been a big fan of Obama. I think he's a hypocrite and more of a politician and less of an idealist than people believe, and I've always said that. But honestly, his rhetoric really sometimes does more harm than good. Why make a speech if you're going to make a counter-productive speech? I don't care how articulate you are - if you can't say anything useful, don't say anything at all. Yesterday was Armenian Genocide Memorial Day, and Obama decided to make a speech. He has, in the past, when he was a senator, referred to said genocide as genocide. He did, while running, promise he would refer to it in the same way as president. Yesterday, he made a speech about how terrible the genocide was, but instead of calling it genocide, he called it "atrocities," thereby somewhat legitimating Turkish denial of this event.

I know, I know, he doesn't want to rock the boat. Turkey is an ally of the US. I totally get that, but you are the president of the United States. You are way more important and powerful than Turkey is. Not only that, but if you don't want to call the genocide what it is, I don't want to hear you talk about it. It's painful to hear the event recounted in a way that undermines what Armenians themselves call it. It feels to me like someone is trying to placate me. Like they're saying to children who got into a mutual shoving match where one got more injured than the other but both were to blame, "Oh, Sally, I know you're very hurt. It's regrettable," but refusing to believe the child's story that they were attacked first.

I've always found Obama condescending. This is nothing new. But don't make campaign promises that are really easy to keep without keeping them. I know that he doesn't want to rock the boat with Turkey, but a smart, non-sleazy politician thinks about these things before promising a people whose history has been all but ignored for 90 years that they will finally have the recognition they need to achieve true closure. If you're not willing to go to bat to make that happen, Mr. President, don't let a desperate people think you will. It's unkind and it borders on epistemic violence...

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