The Semantics of Genocide – April 24, 2015 – 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

The eternal flame at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial in Yerevan, Ar

The eternal flame at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial in Yerevan

The Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary defines ‘genocide’ as “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group”, such as the Nazis’ attempt to exterminate the Jews in the 1940s. Today, however, we must commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, which was the inspiration for the coining of the very word ‘genocide’ by Raphael Lemkin in 1943 or 1944.
Despite Obama’s campaign promise in 2008, that as President he would “recognize the Armenian Genocide”, the White House issued a carefully worded statement at a high-level administration meeting with Armenian groups that avoided using the term ‘genocide’, obviously for political reasons, for fear of offending their Turkish ally. On the other hand, Pope Francis used the word ‘genocide’ to refer to the mass killings of Armenians by the Turks without hesitation or retraction.
In my mind, ‘genocide’ is a specific and considered war effort to exterminate a declared enemy. An act is genocidal when it is carried out not only to obliterate the fighting force of a nation, but to indiscriminately include the killing of women and children. Women and children are essential for the survival and future of a nation and, therefore, require special attention and protection, attention and protection which the criminal and barbaric mind dismisses.



During World War II, the mass destructions of the cities of Coventry in England and Dresden in Germany, and the USA’s atomic bombings on Japan, to call a spade a spade, were genocidal acts. The murder of so many women and children in that war cannot be justified with a claimed goal of shortening the conflict or minimizing casualties. In plain truth, it was simple, inhuman carnage. And in the Iraq war, targeted city bombings caused the deaths of countless women and children, deaths that were labelled ‘collateral damage’, a nice, sanitized term, an excuse for unintentional but unavoidable acts of war.
Let us not be deceived by politically correct terminology, by semantics. The words used to describe calculated acts of warfare which include the slaughter of women and children cannot gloss over the face that they are a disgrace to humanity, and whether they are committed intentionally or carelessly, they are pointedly ‘genocidal’.
It all comes down to the persistent sexist attitude of men, considering women as second-class citizens. Instead of granting women, not only equal status in all facets of everyday life, but a superior status in politics to curb the limited male ability to find peaceful solutions, men engage in macho altercations which lead to wars, wars which women in power could and would have avoided. Let men become the champions and guardians of women, at home as well as in enemy camps. We desperately need their enlightenment to turn the hearts of belligerent men to the singular, necessary goal of achieving universal peace, peace which the United Nations has so far, dismally, failed to achieve.

Photos: Goggle images.

7 thoughts on “The Semantics of Genocide – April 24, 2015 – 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

  1. There is some generalizing in this thought-provoking post, but you make some good points. Men are victims of genocide as well, as enemy forces often focus on the elimination of men of fighting age first. Entire generations have been lost to this vile strategy.
    There are some hawkish women leaders who would not necessarily prevent war, but I would think a governance that included a wider swath of the human population would likely be better balanced and more inclined to use diplomacy first. We’ve yet to find out, unfortunately.
    Another point about genocide is the inability of governments to immediately identify and react to genocidal acts. After reading “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide” by Samantha Power, I was floored about how agencies and governments squabbled over the very definition of genocide. It really is unbelievable.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Sadly, I agree with you. As I mentioned, the United Nations has proven to be a failure and did not live up to the goals that had been set out at it’s inception. I feel women can bring a new perspective to international politics. History has proven that men have chosen war over negotiation time and time again, with very few exceptions.
      Thank you for your thoughts. With each new comment, I learn more and more about the world around me.


  2. The issue of whether to call the killings a genocide is emotional, both for Armenians, who are descended from those killed, and for Turks, the heirs to the Ottomans. For both groups, the question touches as much on national identity as on historical facts.

    Some Armenians feel their nationhood cannot be fully recognized unless the truth of what happened to their forebears is acknowledged. Some Turks still view the Armenians as having been a threat to the Ottoman Empire in a time of war, and say many people of various ethnicities — including Turks — were killed in the chaos of war.

    In addition, some Turkish leaders fear that acknowledgment of a genocide could lead to demands for huge reparations.

    What preceded the mass killings of Armenians that began 100 years ago?

    The Ottoman Turks, having recently entered World War I on the side of Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, were worried that Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire would offer wartime assistance to Russia. Russia had long coveted control of Constantinople (now Istanbul), which controlled access to the Black Sea — and therefore access to Russia’s only year-round seaports.

    How many Armenians lived in the Ottoman Empire at the start of the mass killings?

    Many historians agree that the number was about 2 million. However, victims of the mass killings also included some of the 1.8 million Armenians living in the Caucasus under Russian rule, some of whom were massacred by Ottoman forces in 1918 as they marched through East Armenia and Azerbaijan.


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