Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Digression--Veritas et Aequitas

In 1915 approximately 1.5 million ethnic Armenians were slaughtered by their Turkish neighbors. Turkey has yet to acknowledge the genocide. Instead they call the deaths a necessary response to violent uprisings by the Armenians. But genocide? No way.

There were, of course, eye witness accounts. The most notable, a detailed history written by the American Ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau. There are survivor accounts, too, from those who were strong enough or lucky enough to escape. Pictures of the brutality and barbarous nature of the attacks still remain: heads of Armenian men mounted on public walls; miles of women and children refugees being marched through the desert; piles of dead bodies left behind as those marches continued on with little to no food or rest; massacre sights covered with mounds of bones left to age in the blazing sun, picked clean by vultures. Poetry of witness survives, as well; accounts of soldiers setting young women on fire and whipping them into a frenzy of dance, the torture so intense it was impossible to know what killed them first, the enormous loss of blood from their wounds or the fire.

I lived in Turkey for a summer in 1975. When I told the Turks I met I was Armenian ,to a person they apologized for the past. They were gracious and deferential. The people knew then just as they know today. But the government asserts otherwise.

Can we not learn from history that simply saying emphatically something is so does not make it so? We hear from our government that we must pass a health care bill because 47 million are uninsured. Then 42 million. Then thirty. The facts have been tuned like a piano seeking the optimal pitch. We hear that thousands are dying because they are uninsured. Yet federal law mandates emergency rooms treat all-comers insured or not. Thousands? Could we see the evidence please? Could we have a legitimate debate? The public is overwhelmingly opposed to health care as currently framed, yet it is being crammed down our throats by a rogue Congress.

We ostensibly live in a democracy. Can our leaders speak the truth? Abide by the constraints of the Constitution? Am I alone in thinking we are just a step away from barbarity when our leaders discard the truth in favor of propaganda? President Obama posing with 150 doctors dressed in white coats (given them by the White House right before the photo opp) is a sham. When our leaders become ideologues, interested only in pushing their agenda we are a merely a step away from the failed regimes of the past.

The Armenian genocide, almost 100 years later remains unavenged. The border between the two countries is closed though an agreement to open the borders may be signed October 10th. That is good news. But until the truth is is acknowledge and some sort of retribution made, the problem will remain. That is why we study history. Through Veritas comes Aequitas.

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