What You Should Know About The Armenian Genocide

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This comes from that dead period before America thought as a world power, and besides we were paying attention, if at all, to the Great War, especially the western front, so we never heard much at all about it.

But it happened exactly a hundred years ago starting today. It can be considered a precursor to the Nazi Holocaust, or ISIS or other things in the twentieth century, progressing right up to yesterday.

We should probably note that Turkey (and a few other nations) deny the term Genocide, although not the fact. They claim that the term is inapplicable because they didn’t plan on killing all those people. I have a low opinion of nation-states using incompetence as a defense, but that’s what it is.

From The Federalist:

April 24 marks the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, a massive tragedy that brutally snuffed out the lives of up to 1.5 million Armenian Christians in the Ottoman Empire.

It was a systematic attempt to exterminate an entire race of people. And now, on the one hundredth commemoration, President Obama joins those who deny it byrefusing to call it was it was: genocide. This is the seventh time he’s retracted his 2008 election-year promise that if elected he would recognize the Armenian genocide.

As the granddaughter of genocide survivors, it’s personal for me, and I grew up knowing all about it. But too few people today are even aware of what took place in that part of the world exactly 100 years ago.

Unfortunately, as philosopher George Santayana noted, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. We can see today how the calamity that befell the Armenians 100 years ago seems to be repeating itself in the wholesale slaughter of Christians in the Middle East by ISIS and other terrorist groups. So I’d like to offer a bit of a primer on the Armenian Genocide.

What Happened?

About 1.5 million Armenian Christians were systematically slaughtered by the government of the Ottoman Empire. It was jumpstarted on April 24, 1915, when hundreds of Armenian community leaders and intellectuals were rounded up in Constantinople, arrested, and killed.

Young Armenian women who were not raped and killed could end up Islamified and taken in as wives or concubines.

The goal was to exterminate every Armenian Christian, whether child, woman, or man. The killings themselves often included all manner of butchery, torture, and humiliation. My grandmother lamented the crucifixion of her father, who was known in the village as a holy man.

Another part of this extermination program involved deportations that forced Armenians out of their homes and basically put them on death marches into the Syrian Desert. Many died of starvation and exhaustion on these caravans. Others succumbed to diseases like typhus in lice-infested camp conditions. Young Armenian women who were not raped and killed could end up Islamified and taken in as wives or concubines. My grandmother’s younger sister was taken into a harem.

Some of the most harrowing accounts of the murders are included in the extraordinary memoirs of the survivor Bishop Grigoris Balakian, entitled “Armenian Golgotha.” For in depth documentation of the genocide online, I recommend this website.

Continue reading What You Should Know About The Armenian Genocide.

The Barbarians Within Our Gates

christians-eradicated-in-iraqThis article, which got buried in my drafts dates from last September, but little has changed, I think.

Hisham Melhem is the Washington bureau chief of Al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based satellite channel. He is also the correspondent for Annahar, the leading Lebanese daily. I  find him to read like a man who knows whereof he speaks, and understands the culture far better than most of us do, and who laments the destruction of his culture.

I think it worth our time to read, and to reflect on what he says here.

With his decision to use force against the violent extremists of the Islamic State, President Obama is doing more than to knowingly enter a quagmire. He is doing more than play with the fates of two half-broken countries—Iraq and Syria—whose societies were gutted long before the Americans appeared on the horizon. Obama is stepping once again—and with understandably great reluctance—into the chaos of an entire civilization that has broken down.

Arab civilization, such as we knew it, is all but gone. The Arab world today is more violent, unstable, fragmented and driven by extremism—the extremism of the rulers and those in opposition—than at any time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago. Every hope of modern Arab history has been betrayed. The promise of political empowerment, the return of politics, the restoration of human dignity heralded by the season of Arab uprisings in their early heydays—all has given way to civil wars, ethnic, sectarian and regional divisions and the reassertion of absolutism, both in its military and atavistic forms. With the dubious exception of the antiquated monarchies and emirates of the Gulf—which for the moment are holding out against the tide of chaos—and possibly Tunisia, there is no recognizable legitimacy left in the Arab world.

Is it any surprise that, like the vermin that take over a ruined city, the heirs to this self-destroyed civilization should be the nihilistic thugs of the Islamic State? And that there is no one else who can clean up the vast mess we Arabs have made of our world but the Americans and Western countries?

No one paradigm or one theory can explain what went wrong in the Arab world in the last century. There is no obvious set of reasons for the colossal failures of all the ideologies and political movements that swept the Arab region: Arab nationalism, in its Baathist and Nasserite forms; various Islamist movements; Arab socialism; the rentier state and rapacious monopolies, leaving in their wake a string of broken societies. No one theory can explain the marginalization of Egypt, once the center of political and cultural gravity in the Arab East, and its brief and tumultuous experimentation with peaceful political change before it reverted back to military rule.

Nor is the notion of “ancient sectarian hatreds” adequate to explain the frightening reality that along a front stretching from Basra at the mouth of the Persian Gulf to Beirut on the Mediterranean there exists an almost continuous bloodletting between Sunni and Shia—the public manifestation of an epic geopolitical battle for power and control pitting Iran, the Shia powerhouse, against Saudi Arabia, the Sunni powerhouse, and their proxies.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/09/the-barbarians-within-our-gates-111116.html#ixzz3VDDOy6NN

I have little to add to what he says. But my point is that, whatever happens, in the Arab/Muslim world, we in the United States, and western Europe will find ourselves drawn in.

It behooves us to inform ourselves about the situation,, or we will undoubtedly do more harm than good. We should remember though, that we cannot fix the world, nor does all the world want to be like us, and it is up to them, not us to decide. That does not preclude us from attempting to persuade and encourage those whose goal strike us as laudable but, there are limits.

Read and reflect

A Rage Against History

Turkish_troops_storming_Fort_Shefketil_(cropped)This article is by Clive Kessler, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of New South Wales. It’s very good, as it goes into some of the motivations of why we are seeing Islamic radical violence. I would recommend you get your coffee refilled as it’s also fairly long. Enjoy.

The Ottawa parliament, Café Lindt, Charlie Hebdo and so many others too: these are all separate incidents.  But they are all part of the same global phenomenon.

They are all expressions of a rage against history that lurks within modern Islam and animates Muslim militants worldwide today.

It is a rage that has its source within the wounded soul of contemporary Islamic civilisation, of the modern Muslim world generally.

The Islamic religion and its social world are an intensely political tradition.

It has always been so, going back to Muhammad’s dual role as both prophet and political leader in the original Islamic community in Madinah from 622 to 632 CE.

More, within a century of Muhammad’s death his small desert oasis polity had become a vast transcontinental empire.

And, in a succession of different forms or political frameworks (“caliphates”), the community of Muhammad’s faithful continued to live in the world on its own founding assumptions.

For a thousand years it was largely a continuing success story. Islamic civilisation, as it evolved upon its foundational political template provided by Muhammad, was able to live in the world on its own terms.

The central Islamic societies in which Islamic civilisation evolved were able to write and then “live out” the script of their own history.

Not only did Islam, and the Muslims of Islamic civilisation, live in the world on their own preferred terms, according to their own faith-based socio-political and legal blueprint.  They were able to set those terms to others who came within their orbit, under their influence and control. It was to be accepted by all, lovingly or in obligatory submission, induced or imposed.

How has the world of Islam always explained and justified this to itself?

Religiously, Islam sees itself as the successor to and the completion of the Abrahamic faith tradition of ethical and prophetic monotheism. To Judaism and then Christianity.

It sees itself as completing those two earlier faith communities: those of the “peoples of the book” or genuine scripture. Completing, but also repairing and then superseding, those earlier revelations, making good their limitations and deficiencies.

What deficiencies? First, those earlier revelations, so mainstream Islam holds, were incomplete, only partial. And second, in their human transmission, what God had revealed through them had been distorted and corrupted by its learned custodians, the rabbis and priests.

Islam sees itself as complete because it sees itself (or so its scholarly traditions assert), unlike Judaism and Christianity, as equipped with a fully developed social and political “blueprint”, a divinely prescribed plan for the organisation and political management of society.

For this reason, its mainstream scholars have long held, Islam incorporates and carries forward all that is right and good in Judaism and Christianity. And what is not good or authentic Islam rejects —— and what it has rejected is simply wrong.

So Islam supersedes, and in a sense also negates, its two predecessor Abrahamic faiths. They, or the best in them, live on in Islam. Once Islam succeeded and incorporated them in this fashion, Judaism and Christianity became, in effect, obsolete and irrelevant. Religiously superseded, they lived on in world history merely as relics from an earlier, pre-Islamic era of human spiritual and social evolution. This was not just religious doctrine; these ideas informed and even defined the historical civilisation founded upon that religious faith.

This attitude could continue, this faith-based civilisational outlook or worldview, could continue undisturbed so long as it was not evidently counterfactual. So long, that is, as Islam continued to live in the world on its own terms. So long as the worldly career of Islamic civilisation remained a success story.

It was, for a thousand years. Islam survived the challenge of its great trans-Mediterranean civilisational rival, the world of Christendom, withstanding even the era of the Crusades. But eventually it succumbed to what we might call “post-Christian Christendom”, or Europe and the Western world.

The long crisis that the Islamic world, in the form of the Ottoman Empire or Caliphate, entered was dramatically signalled and symbolised at the end of the eighteenth century by Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt.

Over the following century, the world of Islam was overwhelmed.

A rage against history.

Of course the classical Christian response to the claim that Islam is the completion of the Abrahamic religions is that it is simply another heretical schismatic cult. And it follows that current western governments have major problems dealing with it, simply because they believe in nothing (except self-enrichment, perhaps). And we all know that nothing cannot stand against anything, no matter how ill-conceived.

Hat tip to CPS

Barbarians in the City

pic_giant2_011115_SM_Paris-JihadistKevin D. Williamson over at National Review has an excellent article up on the mess in Paris. he reminds us that the terrorists are not animals, simply because they are much worse. I doubt any of us have any sympathy for these spawn of the devil but, what they did is something only humans would do, kill for an idea (however evil or misguided it might be.

Animals are animals, they do what they do. When a dog urinates on a fire plug, it doesn’t mean he disrespects the fire department, he’s simply being a dog.

Here’s a bit of it:

[…]They have no philosophy or ideology beyond that of Ted Hughes’s “Hawk, Roosting”:

I kill where I please because it is all mine.

There is no sophistry in my body:

My manners are tearing off heads —

. . . No arguments assert my right.

But still, the Parisian jihadists were described as: “murderous animals,” “Muslim terrorist animals,” “animals who want to kill,” etc. The sentiment is understandable: that these sorts represent a danger, a mindless threat that must be dealt with lethally and pitilessly.

Even a rabid dog inspires a little sympathy — who blames the dog? But killing the brothers Kouachi pitilessly is not enough. We cannot kill them, and those like them, indifferently. We kill them with purpose — with judgment. We do not kill them because they are animals; we kill them because they are human beings.

and

The Ron Pauls of the world and most progressives believe that if we would just mind our own business and see to our own affairs, then we could more or less horse-trade our way to a peaceful modus vivendi – the Iranians, the takfiri, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Paris-born jihadists all must want something, if only we could figure out how to satisfy them. But there is no satisfying them – not in a world where a Jew lives, a Christian walks free, or a Hindu is his own master. Not while Oprah Winfrey is still awaiting her stoning and Neil Patrick Harris his public immolation.

Being Human | National Review Online.

Needless to say, I agree with him completely, I wish we could find that word as well.

Bravery and Cowardice; France and the World

150107223804-31-paris-reax-0107-large-169I was going to write this post about the despicable act yesterday in Paris but, I decided it wasn’t really an article in it. Why? Because it shouldn’t have been a surprise.

Yes, those cartoonists were very brave men. But they shouldn’t have had to be. If Europe really believed in free speech those cartoons would have been published in every major paper, not in one brave lonely paper. I carry no brief for their cartoons, most of their work I’ve seen, I find disgusting. Free speech is like that. As I said yesterday, “Free speech is inherently the right to offend, otherwise it has no purpose.” So I didn’t follow their work, but I supported their right to publish it, just as Voltaire said.

And so right now Europe, and especially France, is all fired up about the Islamic threat, or at least its terrorist component. Even enough in a few cases to overcome its PC scruples. That’s good, if Europe is to survive, it needs to. But how long will it last? A week, a month, a year? I’m not optimistic. We (and the Anglosphere) have been actively engaged for more than fourteen years. Where are the French, the Spaniards, to a point the Germans, and the Italians?

Waiting, I guess for John Bull, and Uncle Sugar to save their rights (that we provided them, in the first place) once again. Well, if we learned (relearned, really) nothing else in Afghanistan, it’s that we can’t make people free, they have to do it themselves.

And that’s the one thing Europe can’t seem to do. It can’t seem to care about anything or anyone enough to guarantee anything, especially long-term.

There was an interesting article in Commentary magazine last week. It started with noting that Europe was having trouble deciding what to do with abandoned churches.

This lack of religious belief may well also be related to why Europeans are choosing to have so few children. According to the CIA world factbook EU countries have an average birth rate of just 1.55 children per woman, and in countries such as Italy, Germany, Greece, and Austria that goes down to about 1.42 births per woman. And these are figures which are undoubtedly inflated by the higher birth rate of immigrant groups; among native Europeans the numbers are still lower.

For Europeans, it seems the absence of belief extends beyond religion into the realms of other traditional identities. As Annika Hernroth-Rothstein explains in a recent piece for Israel Hayom, Europeans have been increasingly choosing against national identities in general. Rothstein writes of how in Europe in the wake of the Holocaust: “nation-states and national identity have been deemed the culprit and the key to the dark European history that brought on such unparalleled suffering. The old was replaced with the new; a cultural relativism where no tradition, belief or state should stake a claim on any moral high ground. All ideas and cultures became equally unimportant compared to the globalist, multicultural ideal.”

And that is pretty much a cultural suicide note.

In this Europe where there is nothing worth believing in, nothing worth dying for—and perhaps nothing worth living for, given the birth rate—it is little wonder that Europeans now take the view on foreign policy that they do.

Europe Is Losing Its Soul – Commentary Magazine Commentary Magazine.

Oh, you needn’t expect to be troubled by these cartoons–our so-called free press which endlessly brags about how brave they are, is too terrorized to show them to you. I’d laugh at them but I’m too busy crying at their perfidy.

It’s a pretty sad epitaph, isn’t it? Died of apathy. But for today, we can truly say, perhaps for the last time, in sympathy, “We are all French!” (Thanks to Sarah Churchwell for the reminder.)

 

The way to defeat jihadis is to offer something better

Daniel Hannan has an outstanding article up on the Telegraph yesterday. He is talking about how to defeat the young Brits that wish to be jihadis. The thing is, you never defeat something with nothing, he’s right.

British history, like its niece American history, is the story of man’s ascent from slavery to individual liberty. In great measure, it is a story that is one of the most attractive in the world. But we have allowed it to be corrupted, by those who use it for  political ends, who have convinced many that Britain, and America, are evil incarnate.  We, like the Brits, have allowed this to creep in, unnoticed, over the years until this evil nonsense is what is being taught to our children as our history.

There are things in our histories that are cringeworthy, but that is true of everyone’s history. There is also the fact that of all the peoples in the world, the Anglo-Americans have done more for the individual, than anybody else.

And in a related matter, our young people are looking for something when they join the jihad, or even when they convert to Islam. I think they look for certainty, a system that knows right from wrong, good from evil. Islam is a system that is flawed of course, It reflects the flawed nature of its founder, and is easily corrupted to evil, if it is not evil in itself.

But, one knows that there is another system in the world that does the same thing, it offers a choice, and a stark one, between good and evil, but unlike Islam, it while rooted in antiquity, has grown. The wisest men of the last 2000 years have contributed to it, and enriched it.

But it, like Anglo-American history, has been greatly maligned and diluted, both from within and without. But also like our history, the record is still there, and accessible, we merely need to read, learn and share it.

A Polish friend, an MEP of my sort of age, was telling me the other day about how his life changed when Pope John Paul II toured his home country. The papal visit set in train the events that led to the Gdansk protests and, in due course, the unravelling of the tyranny. But my friend added a detail that I had never before appreciated. “The Holy Father never directly condemned the Communist authorities,” he said. “He didn’t need to. He was offering something better”.

When you put it like that, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Offer something better. It worked during the recent Scottish referendum. For months, Unionists had warned of the horrors that would follow from separation: companies leaving, markets collapsing, Scotland left without a currency. The more frenetically they warned, the further they fell behind in the polls. Only in the closing days did the “No” campaign make the positive argument it should have made all along: the UK was doing pretty darned well, Scots were prospering within it, and it was silly to discard a precious thing. That was when the polls turned.

Continue reading  The way to defeat British jihadis is to offer something better

And that is the thing that I find so frustrating, Anglo-American history is the story of man’s ascent from slavery to freedom, and its sharing all over the world. It is one of the most remarkable and uplifting stories ever writing, and written in blood by the common man.

And the other story that I referred to above is even greater, although the two are intimately entwined. Because the story of Christianity is also a story of free will, and enlightenment. It has justly been called The Greatest Story Ever Told, and it is. It the story of man’s civilization, from a violent past. Only Christianity has developed, and lived by a ‘Just War Theory’ . The rest still live by the rule of the most powerful, while we live by the ‘Rule under and through the law’ and apply y it not only to ourselves but even to those who presume to rule us.

That is what President Reagan, Prime Minister Thatcher, and Pope (St.) John Paul II used to defeat the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union.

It is a wonderful uplifting story. Because something always defeats nothing, and humanism, and Islam, are nothing, Simply the rule of the powerful.

Be For Something, Something Good

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