Just curious (re the Armenian Genocide vote)

Before leaving China, I hadn't heard about the House of Representatives' vote on a resolution condemning Turkey for the Armenian genocide of the World War I era.


Now that I've heard about it, I find that it leads naturally to this question:


Is America insane??????



To be more precise: have the Congressional Democratic leaders lost their minds in not finding a way to bottle up this destructive and self-righteously posturing measure?


Maybe they think that the U.S. has so many friends in the Islamic world, especially in countries bordering Iraq, that it should go out of its way to make new enemies?


Or -- and this is truly appalling possibility -- perhaps they think that America’s moral standing is so high at the moment that we will be admired and thanked worldwide for delivering condemnations of sins committed in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire?

Why not go all the way? How about a resolution condemning China for the millions who suffered in the Cultural Revolution and the tens of millions starved during the Great Leap Forward – right as we’re seeking China’s help on Burma, North Korea, the environment, etc? I mean, for each Armenian the Ottoman Turks slaughtered, at least ten Chinese citizens perished at the hands of the regime whose successors still rule the country. And the government's official stance of denial is just about as strong. So, why not just tell them they were evil? The timing would be especially nice during China's current Party Congress.


I'm sure we could get a unanimous vote for a resolution condemning North Korea for any of a hundred grievous offenses; that would be a good complement to the recent nuclear deal. Why not one denouncing Russia for the Czarist pogroms, to accompany efforts to reason with/rein in Putin? Maybe another condemning England for its subjugation and slaughter of the Scots, to say nothing of the Irish – while also asking Gordon Brown to stay the course in Iraq? What about Australia for its historic treatment of the Aborigines? Or the current nations of West Africa for their role in the slave trade?


The Armenian genocide was real; many Turks pretend it wasn’t. They are wrong, and we should stand for what's right. But it’s hard to think of a more willfully self-indulgent step than lecturing Turkey's current government and people 90 years late.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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