Something big happened recently with President Biden, something I can’t stop thinking about and speaking about.
I am hardly a politically-minded person. And I think it would be absurd to pigeonhole my beliefs into any petty terminology like “liberal” or “conservative”. I don’t like my opinions on any issue to be artificially predetermined by some group I’ve assigned myself with.
We All Have Our Leanings
Nevertheless, we all have our leanings. We have our perspectives we can’t run away from. They are a part of us even if we struggle to take every issue and truly understand it and look at everything from multiple angles.
So I have a general tendency to swing toward the right when it comes to politics. Despite considering myself a liberal or (even an ultra-liberal) on some subjects, that’s just where I lean.
And I panic when people like Joe Biden end up in office, with agendas I don’t sympathize with or ones that look like they’re covering up broader agendas that I find abhorrent. I’m wary. I’m skeptical. And that’s on top of the fact that I have a general mistrust of just about all politicians.
Joe Biden and the Armenian Genocide
So when Joe Biden recently referred to the Turkish massacre of 1.5 million Armenians as a “genocide”, I was shocked to my core. And I was impressed. And felt proud to be an American.
A little background here:
Around 100 years ago, the Ottoman Empire slaughtered over a million Armenians. Since then their government has routinely denied or downplayed what occurred. They stringently object to the term genocide being used to refer to what happened. And they threaten political ramifications for any country that officially terms the incident as such.
And multiple leaders in the United States of America have promised repeatedly to reverse America’s policy. They would be the one to stand up for what’s good and right. President Barack Obama was one of those leaders. And he had eight long years to do the right thing. But for reasons I’ll probably never understand, he cowered to the pressure and didn’t do the morally obvious.
Biden: Doing President Differently
And President Joe Biden did in his first 100 days in office what the president he served under couldn’t do in eight years.
I’ve often referred to that broken promise as the single worst part of Obama’s presidency. He was supposed to stand for peace and diversity. He was supposed to usher in a period of change. We were going to be a new nation, a special and tolerant nation.
That is, of course, unless you’re an Armenian. In which case you get to feel the frigidity of the American dream for a century. Why? Because God forbid we upset the great and mighty Turkey.
Why did Biden do this? Why did he finally do the right thing, and right the wrongs of so many before him?
I’d like to believe it’s because he’s a great person and he’s just trying to do the right thing.
Don’t Worry, I’m Still a Skeptic
Skepticism leads me to believe there’s more to the story, but I’d still like to believe it’s so.
I’ve often wondered why presidents backed down to Turkish pressure. Is there something we don’t know? Does Turkey hold some geopolitical or economic importance that is way beyond the scope and understanding of an ordinary citizen? So the president arrives in office, he’s about to utter the word “genocide”, he receives the truth about Turkey, and suddenly he cowers in fear like little a child.
Of course there’s information the president has that I do not. I would certainly hope so!
And maybe something was different this time around. Perhaps the misadventures of 2020 have left Turkey with no more clout. Maybe they aren’t who they used to be, so Joe Biden was able to spread his arms wide and gain all the glory his predecessors weren’t capable of getting.
Or maybe something else is different. Something we couldn’t possibly have any insight into. Like whatever Turkey was offering in exchange for our careful word choices is now achievable through another source.
Does It Even Matter?
Regardless, I don’t even care about the motivations or the reasons for the timing. I am happy to see the president of the United States of America publicly do the right thing. And it makes me feel proud to be an American.
A dark, little secret is that another country that doesn’t acknowledge the genocide is Israel. And this disturbs me to no end.
The Jewish People has suffered. Can I say definitively that we have suffered more than any other nation in the history of the world? Probably not. But we’re way up there. There are no words to capture the horror that was the Holocaust.
But with all tragedy must come something positive. Minimally, something must have been learned.
And there can be no greater lesson than the world must get up together as one and say we will not stand for hatred and violence of any kind. We will not be like those who stood by as our people was irreparably damaged. No, we must look evil in the eye and say this is not the world we want to live in. We must stand at the forefront of any attempt to stamp out suffering from the world.
So how could it be that Israel is silent on the issue of the Armenian Genocide? How could any political consideration possible compare to our responsibility to acknowledge the suffering of others?
This is no small matter. It might be one of the most important aspects of being a Jewish Nation in the modern world. And it cannot be taken lightly. At all.
Proud to be an American Today
And despite decades of mistrust for politicians, on both sides of the aisle, I find myself today extremely proud to be an American.
Joe Biden has a long road ahead of him. To be sure, mistakes will be made. And I would be shocked if there weren’t moments along the way in which I’m thoroughly disappointed with his leadership. But today I can proudly say that I am thankful that my president has done the right thing.
The immediate reward for letting these important words leave his mouth might not be instantly apparent. And there might be serious fallout. But I’m sure I’m not the only fan you gained today, President Biden. And standing up for the forgotten and downtrodden will gain you a greater legacy than just about anything else a president could do.
I’m listening. I’m watching. Where do we go from here?
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