10/11 Slate: What Genocide?

What Genocide?

By Michael Weiss
Posted Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2007, at 6:27 PM ET

Bloggers are aghast that President Bush came out against a House resolution that would recognize the Armenian genocide. Also, Palestinians return to a Lebanese refugee camp formerly besieged by Islamists. And bloggers assess the discoveries made by this year's Nobel laureates in science.

What genocide? Beginning in 1915, up to 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered or displaced by the dying Ottoman Empire, an event that modern Turkey refuses to acknowledge, to the point of criminalizing the discussion of it. The House foreign affairs committee voted Wednesday 27-21 in favor of a symbolic resolution that would recognize the Armenian genocide, much to the chagrin of Turkey's Islamist government, one of the United States' strongest allies in the Middle East. President Bush said "this resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings." Bloggers think otherwise.

El Matador, an Irish nationalist who writes at ElBlogador, thinks realpolitik is back with a vengeance: "For Bush and many of his predecessors, it has nothing to do with what is right or wrong, but rather a question of what suits the American Presidency best. Morality and justice don't come into it. We saw the same sort of buffoonery during US interventions in Latin America in the 1970s. It seems that some people never learn."

"Guy Fawkes" at lefty Daily Kos is appalled: "No less a monster than Adolf Hitler, when asked by one of his subordinates about whether the world would sit back and watch while they massacred thousands of untermenschen, responded that nobody remembered now what happened to the Armenians. Now it is happening again."

Even some stalwart defenders of the administration can't stomach this latest maneuver. Conservative Pam at Atlas Shrugs writes: "If the President won't call genocide genocide and he won't utter the name of the mortal enemy we face, Islamism, we are in for a world of pain."

In a lengthy, informational post, Baron Bodissey at the Gates of Vienna looks at the issues that led acknowledgement of the atrocities to be repressed after World War I and then moves to present day, asking: "And why is our relationship with Turkey strained? What have we done to offend them? Is it strained because of that nasty little business in the run-up to the Iraq War in 2003, when the Turks denied the United States permission to enter northern Iraq via Turkey?" which caused "numerous additional American casualties, and allowed thousands of Baathists, criminals, and terrorists — who otherwise would have been interdicted by a northern front — to escape."

"The irony of someone named Bush jilting the Armenians," according to Countenance Blog, "is that, in 1988, the first George Bush had the Armenian-American Governor of California, George Deukmejian … on his short list for a running mate. I wonder how he feels today, as he sees the son of the man who might well have made him Vice-President diss his own people like this."

Finally, Joey Kurtzman, my colleague at Jewcy, has called for the firing of Anti-Defamation League Director Abe Foxman for the ADL's refusal to recognize the Armenian genocide. At the Daily Shvitz blog, Kurtzman reminds readers that George W. Bush once spoke differently about historical fact when he was trying to drum up support for his tax policy: "The Armenians were subjected to a genocidal campaign that defies comprehension and commands all decent people to remember and acknowledge the facts and lessons of an awful crime in a century of bloody crimes against humanity."

Read more about Bush and the Armenian genocide.

Homeward bound: Today, 500 Palestinians returned to the Nahr al Bared refugee camp in Lebanon months after fleeing a battle scene between the Lebanese Army and Fatah al-Islam, a jihadist group. More than 30,000 residents had been displaced and their homes destroyed during the conflict.

At Time's Middle East Blog, Beirut correspondent Andrew Lee Butters says: "[Nahr al Bared] is a dangerous place, littered with land mines, booby traps, and unexploded ordinance -- yesterday three soldiers were wounded and one was killed by explosions. But in the meantime, camp residents are living in schools and makeshift shelters in other -- already overcrowded -- Palestinan camps around Lebanon."

Mustapha at Lebanese blog Beirut Spring points out: "One of the factors that will push the problem to the limelights is the imminent shortage in reconstruction cash. Only $37 million of the 382.5$ million estimated for reconstruction and relief have been pledged."

And Sursock, a Lebanese socialist blog, claims to have seen a confidential report on the reconstruction of the refugee camp: "Out go the tight alleys and close quarter community housing, and in comes European style housing blocs separated by wide roads … [to] provide better entry for armoured patrols and thus leaving the Palestinian less able to defend their areas. The Humvees supplied recently by the US would fulfill this task." Also: "Lebanese army will be running 'security' in the new camp. This takes us back to the 1950s and 1960s when Palestinians lived in fear of the internal security services known as Deuxieme Bureau."

Read more about the refugees' return.

Nobel's lab squad: Nobel Prize winners in chemistry, physics, and medicine have been announced. Among the recipients is Mario R. Cappechi, a refugee from the Nazis who helped develop—along with his co-winners Martin J. Evans and Oliver Smithies—"gene targeting" in mice, a procedure involving the use of embryonic stem cells. Also, the physics prize went to Peter Gruenberg and Albert Fert for their discovery of "giant magnetoresistance," without which the iPod would have been impossible.

At Wired's Science blog, readers e-mailed blogger Brandon Keim to set him straight on the importance of knockout genes: "Very often, the knockout mouse gives you the most direct insight into what that gene does, and where it does it. Only once we understand the function of all these do we have a clear picture, and can thus intervene with treatments."

"Fert and Gr├╝nberg foresaw that computer technology would reduce the size of our world," hymns Myra Per-Lee at Inventor Spot, "as more and more information demanded storage. Information is stored in differently magnetized areas on a hard drive, or memory. Some direction of magnetization corresponds to the binary zero, other directions to the binary value of one."

Read more about the Nobel science winners.

Michael Weiss is an associate editor of Jewcy. His blog is Snarksmith.


Source: http://www.slate.com/id/2175700/