Wants to Know ‘What’s the Plan?’
History can be used as a sword and a shield. As a sword, it is utilized by people to slash through any dissent to their views. The American South’s wretched history on racial matters is used by many to squash even the most moderate disagreement on matters like voter ID laws today. As a shield, history functions as a type of impenetrable intellectual bubble, and is often used by victims or groups who watch as any questioning of them harmlessly bounces off the bubble as those inside, their victim status firmly entrenched, sniff. It is this second group that I could not help but think of as I read Rachel Melikian’s tirade re: Turkey and the Armenian Genocide in the April 21 CV Weekly Viewpoints page. You’ll get no argument from me that the genocide happened. It did. It is not made up. The evidence is there. I’ve got that. However, Melikian’s sermon-like call-to-arms reflects the using of the genocide today as a type of shield by many who easily revert back into the bubble when need be and are teaching their children to do the same thing in perpitude. I’m not a fan of “guilt by historical association.” Nixon’s kids should not have gone to jail for Watergate, for example. However, I’m not a believer in victimhood by historical association either as historical events, like the genocide, [can] trap people decades and generations later into ways of thinking and behaviors that do nothing but entrench feelings of victimhood (and entitlements that victimhood can bring) deeper and deeper with each succeeding generation. It embraces feelings and emotions that people have about other people who may share nothing in common with them except ethnicity. I work with children. Often I ask a child, “What’s the plan?” when they have a giant pile of materials in front of them, not wanting it to go to waste. Well, to the Rachel Melikians of the world, I ask, “What’s the plan?” Is counting down until 2023 (as promised in the letter) the plan? Eight more years of anger for anger’s sake? Who does that help? If the goals are to get an official apology and some form of reparations from the Turkish government, how is continuing to do what you have always done (and which has not worked) going to lead to a different result? It may be time for another plan. A working knowledge of history is great. Gazing endlessly at it is not. Continuing to nervously guard the flame of ethnic angst across generations has become the sworn duty of many no doubt good Armenians who were victims once through no choice of their own, but choose to be victims today.