Overlooking the present

The South End, MI
April 24 2004

Overlooking the present
Ali Moossavi
Vibe Editor

I have absolutely no problem with Holocaust Remembrance Day. This
may come as a shock to those who confuse my anti-Zionist views for
anti-Semitism, but my hatred for an apartheid state’s settler
colonial policies does not equate to respect for racist mass murder.

Logic states that if I’m offended by one form of dehumanizing
violence, then others will offend me equally. And I’m a logical
person, or at least that’s what the voices in my head tell me.

What I do have a problem with is the use of one people’s horror to
justify another. The use of the Holocaust as a propaganda tool to
justify the conquest and ethnic cleansing of Palestine is not only
tired in its repetition or immoral as a phenomenon; it’s also an easy
target. There are other important topics to deal with, so I’ll leave
this one alone.

Another aspect of Holocaust Remembrance Day that does annoy me,
however, is the fact that only the Holocaust is noted. Some
commentators in the Israeli press have noted this and suggest that
steps should be made toward helping Armenians gain recognition for
their 1915 genocide that claimed 1.5 million people by the Ottoman
empire, now modern day Turkey.

While well intentioned, it completely misses the point. Despite
the necessity of studying and remembering past genocides, it doesn’t
do any good to sit back and self-righteously condemn other societies
for their sins while ignoring one’s own.

This seems to be the case with the United States Holocaust
Memorial Museum. On their Web site, they have something called
“Genocide Watch,” which currently includes Chechnya and Sudan. This
may seem noble, and in fact it is, the problem with it is that the
United States has little or nothing to do with these atrocities,
either directly or indirectly.

Considering that the museum documents a 65-year-old genocide under
a country we were at war with, while pointing a human rights
microscope away from our allies and ourselves and onto others, smells
of moral dishonesty serving political interests. That’s not what
“never again” was supposed to mean.

It would be braver – and more pertinent – to extract the universal
lesson that the Holocaust teaches, which is that mass murder – in any
form and for any reason – is universal.

After all, unlike the Germans during World War II who for the most
part didn’t know what was going on in the east, mass murder has been
with American politics since this country’s founding and has been
well-documented. Yet, despite its relatively well-known existence,
Americans have sat idly by, with some celebrating it, while others
pretend to know nothing.

Take the genocide against Native Americans, for example. It is now
widely known that millions of indigenous people were killed over a
period of almost two centuries, either through conventional or
biological warfare (remember those smallpox-infected blankets?) for
the purpose of stealing their land.

It was an American Lebensraum, genocide and expansion, much like
Hitler’s conquest of Eastern Europe. Yet no museum exists to
commemorate it, or anything that happened since then, including

No one ever thinks of the Vietnam War as mass murder. Yet that’s
exactly what it was. The United States and its South Vietnamese
allies killed at least two million Vietnamese during the war, which
lasted from 1965-1973, when the direct American role ended, followed
by the fall of Saigon in 1975. Many of those deaths resulted from the
enormous aerial bombardment, but a significant proportion also
occurred from rampaging American soldiers.

This isn’t to say that all American GIs were rampaging killing
machines. Many of them became outspoken critics of the war and their
efforts led to the Winter Soldier hearings in Detroit, where
testimonies regarding the many massacres that made up the war were

An elite Army unit called, “Tiger Force,” carried out one such
massacre, which lasted over a period of seven months in South
Vietnam’s Central Highlands, in 1967. Hundreds of villagers were
killed, by being blown up with grenades or shot execution style. Then
their bodies were mutilated by having their ears cut off to make

Worst of all, commanders knew that these things were going on, yet
did nothing. In fact, a four-year investigation by the Army, which
went all the way to the Pentagon and the White House, was kept secret
and no charges were filed when it was dropped in 1975. The only
reason anybody knows about this is because of an investigation
conducted by the Toledo Blade newspaper.

Incidentally, the Secretary of Defense in 1975 is also the Defense
Secretary now – Donald Rumsfeld. Mass murder of the kind that
occurred in 1967 is probably happening in Iraq now, and remembering
the Holocaust isn’t going to stop it unless immediate action is

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress


Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS