Is the renaming of past events important?

The US congressional has voted on a non-binding resolution recognizing the massacre and deportation of Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire as Genocide. 

Turkey which rejects calling the event a genocide has warned that it will harm relations

It refers to an event which happened nearly a century ago under a government that no longer exists. But the response on blogs shows that what the U.S government calls it is important. 

Katchkar(Cross) argues, “Accountability is important whether this genocide occurred 1 day ago or 95 years ago. As this sets up the enabling process for future genocides and giving a free “pass” to countries to forget their dark past and consequences.” 

But this blogger comments, “Sometimes it’s better to move on and remember enough so that the issue doesn’t happen again.”

Is it important to re-name events which have happened in the past?  Or it is better to move on?

28 Responses to “Is the renaming of past events important?”

  1. 1 tekkoo
    March 5, 2010 at 12:17

    Such events should be mentioned elaborately in the history books for all to read and explore, so that lessons are learnt. New generation usually learn from past experience, however, unpleasant these might be.
    Having said that, I just can’t understand why the American Congress are inserting their nose on something that does not concern them.

  2. 2 JanB
    March 5, 2010 at 13:17

    It is a big deal when certain people or nations start denying it. The Armenian genocide belongs in the history books just like any other genocide, as long as Turkey resists this the matter has to be pushed forward aggressively. Turkey is only making matters worse in a fight they know they can’t win: if they had admitted to the genocide (which they are not to blame for, another generation of Turks was) decades ago then it would’ve long disappeared from publicity into the history books. by now.

    • 3 TheRBman
      March 6, 2010 at 15:13

      I find Turkeys position an extension to that of Japan in having great difficulty in accepting the wrongs of the past. When you kill directly or via deportation that volume of people with such minimal resistance, that can only come under the heading of genocide.

      I have always thought of Turkey as a progressive country and people. Reactions such as the one Turkey display over the genocide in Armenia, severely question that position.

  3. 4 Subhash C Mehta
    March 5, 2010 at 13:45

    Any inhuman atrocities (including the genocides) anywhere in the world need to marked for them to remain as stark reminders that the our human race is still not good enough.

  4. 5 Cosmo
    March 5, 2010 at 14:17

    To answer the question, I have to say, “no”.
    All further discussion of this matter can do is damage Turkey’s credibility and create animosity towards the outside world from within that country.
    It is a concern that for so long, a so-called “democracy” denied its citizens the freedom of expression to speak out about this matter. I can only hope that Orkhan Pamuk paved the way for a free and open society in Turkey in the future.
    However, Armenia has been banging on about this for so long and no one has thought to ask why it is so important when this event occurred many generations ago, under a completely different Turkish regime. The reason is that it has provided Armenia with a smokescreen for its ongoing dispute with Azerbaijan over the teritory of Nagorno-Karabagh. Unlike the alleged genocide by the Ottomans, this war occurred less than a generation ago and thousands still remain displaced. If you want to see Armenian atrocities against Azeri civilians, you need only visit YouTube for confirmation. Moreover, this issue is yet to be resolved and unlike 1915, this affects people alive today.
    I’m amazed that the West has not woken up to Armenia’s tactics. After all, the only nation state to support Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia was Turkey. Sadly for Azerbaijan, it does not have a worldwide diaspora like Armenia’s, a part of which has a great influence on the American Congress and other Western governments.

  5. 6 T
    March 5, 2010 at 14:21

    They voted on this, and Turkey recalled it’s ambassador. But will anything worse happen? No.

    In a sense, the States relationship with Turkey is just like the one with Israel. Both sides will argue, make diplomatic threats. But the States doesn’t have the guts to actually cut diplomatic relations with either one.

  6. 7 steve
    March 5, 2010 at 14:23

    Was anything learned from this or the holocaust? Isn’t there still a genocide going on in Darfur? There was a genocide in Cambodia. Apparently people aren’t learning, so maybe this resolution is a needed thing. One day, you might be the group that is being eliminated.

  7. 8 steve
    March 5, 2010 at 14:25

    Interesting question, why are there supposed time limits on recognizing genocides, yet every year we in the US celebrate independence day which took place over 225 years ago. The British observe Guy Fawkes day every november, was that almost 400 or so years ago?

    So we remember certain things, and ignore others? Is that it?

  8. 9 Maccus Germanis
    March 5, 2010 at 14:51

    Raphael Lempkin did coin the word “genocide,” with this event in mind. It is the prototype that was compared to then developing events in Germany. Are you suggesting that the word should have no usage?

  9. 10 Ibrahim in UK
    March 5, 2010 at 15:47

    It doesn’t matter how much time has gone by, if something was a spade 100 years ago, it should be called a spade. If the historical narrative fits the modern-day definition of the word, then no reason not to use the word.
    What is, however, quite ludicrous, is that some countries have made it a crime to challenge the historical narrative.
    “That wasn’t a spade, it’s a garden hoe.”
    “Off to jail for you jimmy.”

  10. 11 Cabe UK
    March 5, 2010 at 16:03

    @JanB is right.
    They say history is always written by the ‘”Victors” but our perception of events change over time so I think it is always a good idea to keep reassessing them to work out what actually happened.
    Most of us have skeletons in the closet, I’m sure some have some under the motorway (?) – but every Nation has huge burial grounds which they have to acknowledge one-way-or-another, otherwise their Global reputation will be shoved on to the extremely shaky ground of suspicion and mistrust. – if they refuse to acknowledge what they have done, who can trust what they will do in the future ?

  11. March 5, 2010 at 16:23

    Perhaps Turkey might try growing up a little,it is no shame on present day to admit what your forebears did.Plenty of things that my own country has done that I could be ashamed of,but,I would never dream of denying them.Rather persue that it does not happen again.It should remain in history for what it was.A genocide.Much the same as Pope Innocent the 3rds slaughter of the Albigenses.Turkey should get out of denial and join the 21st Century.

  12. 13 JanB
    March 5, 2010 at 16:28

    “”In a sense, the States relationship with Turkey is just like the one with Israel. Both sides will argue, make diplomatic threats. But the States doesn’t have the guts to actually cut diplomatic relations with either one.

    by T”

    Why would the US cut diplomatic ties with Turkey? Maybe Ankara didn’t get the message but no one’s blaming the current Turkish government for what the Ottoman Empire did.

  13. 14 Abram
    March 5, 2010 at 17:24

    Yes, it’s very important! Weren’t the Serbs trying to prevent a similar genocide by the Turks in the Balkans, 100 years later? One of the main reasons why there is no peace on Earth, because we fail to learn from history. The fact that has attracted very few blogers, and that the BBC is unable to put on air this important subject proves this.

  14. 16 steve
    March 5, 2010 at 17:35


    But they don’t care that we don’t blame modern Turkey. They want it just silenced. The Germans owned up to what they did. Japanese, not so much. They tend to whitewash their history of colonization and oppression of their colonies in Asia, but we don’t really fear the Japanese response, like we do with muslim nations. I’ve heard people fear terrorist responses in response to the resolution by congress..

  15. 17 Edward Hubbard
    March 5, 2010 at 18:14

    Until yesterday, the Armenian massacres were a complex and debated episode in history. I think it’s great that the members of the US Congress have now brought certainty to this issue. Are there any other contoversial historical problems that they are planning to resolve with a simple majority vote?

  16. 18 audre
    March 5, 2010 at 19:49

    It simply doesn’t change a thing! We have never learned, and will never learn, from history. Like everything, it’s just Politicians playing games for whatever end.

  17. 19 dan
    March 5, 2010 at 20:17

    Here we go with another politically correct act of stupidity so that some peoples “feelings” aren’t hurt but meanwhile destroying the relations with Turkey.
    Unable to let sleeping dogs lie, the Democrats score another act of idiocy and irrelevance for the United States.
    The genocide happened 90 years ago. It is between Turkey and Armenia to work out. There is absolutely NO upside for any party but why should that stop the Democrats?

  18. 20 Mike
    March 6, 2010 at 04:50

    It does surprise me and also worry me that no one, including the majority of the world’s media, has commented on the real reason why Armenia is still pursuing this. I refer you all to my previous post.

  19. March 6, 2010 at 13:14

    Hitler said in justifying his annihilation of the Jews policy ” Who remembers the Armenians?” It was common knowledge in his day that Turkey had committed genocide against the Armenians. He was proved wrong about memory on both points. Germany has recognised and apologised for the crimes of Hitler. Turkey needs to stop behaving like a spoiled brat and come clean on its genocide. Until then, its exclusion from the EU should be maintained. I support the US Congress pro-Armemian move and I oppose Obama’s intent to block it.

  20. 22 Kenneth Ingle
    March 6, 2010 at 15:40

    It would appear, that the BBC has its own answer to this question. The word “Genocide” in a politically correct statement must obviously, it seems, only apply to actions taken by countries, or peoples, who are, or were not our direct allies. To mention those massacres carried out by what we consider to be friendly nations, is almost certain to be a futile attempt in trying to bring some truth into historical accounts. Those who try, may then wonder why a moderator removes their quite authentic material from this Blog.

  21. March 7, 2010 at 17:26

    Of course all cases of genocide should be written in stone as should all cases of institutionalized crime against humanity. But what is the legal definition of ‘Genocide?’
    I am no lawyer but I have checked on the UN definition. The deliberate mass murder of peoples due to their race, creed or culture for political gain. That’s how I see it anyway. So let me see…the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki…does that count? I doubt it……..Maybe it should. All countries guilty of genocide and other crimes against humanity should have to answer the international criminal court. Even countries that don’t sign up to it for fear of prosecution! You know who I’m talking about?

  22. 24 Ronald in Canada
    March 7, 2010 at 18:26

    To the rest of the world such actions by the US Congress represent American arrogance and decay. Why on earth should US legislators be making declarations and judgements concerning the past, present, or future actions of other countries? They have been making declarations like the Roman Senate when they had their empire. For instance, do they have any mandate to declare that Jerusalem should become the capital of Israel? Clearly US senators and representatives can be bought by powerful lobby groups to become their mouthpieces. When this happens, world opinion of the US drops another notch.

  23. 25 vintner
    March 8, 2010 at 03:30

    The most important thing about past events is that they are past. Their ability to do harm or good resides solely in their remembrance. Instead, why not try to live in the present?

  24. 26 viola
    March 8, 2010 at 17:40

    With regard to naming genocide for what it is or was: Yes, it is important.

    It is so important that every single country in the world and every human being on the planet needs to acknowledge their capacity to countenance, instigate, or commit genocide against other peoples under certain conditions. There is no other good explanation for why nations and people do such things.

    Perhaps, then, nations which have committed or are committing genocide will not be viewed as heinous and possessed by the devil (even though genocide is heinous) and will, instead, be led to understand itself and thus to change its behavior.

  25. 27 Tom D Ford
    March 8, 2010 at 18:13

    I suggest that using appropriate words to clearly tell the plain truth is what is important. If we don’t tell the truth, people might learn the wrong lesson to use in the present and future.

    Since there are many Armenian Americans, the US Congress ought to tell the truth about what happened to their ancestors, just like it is important to tell the truth about the Holocaust.

    So, since the current Turkish “history” of the Armenian genocide is a lie, it is appropriate to rename it into the truth.

  26. 28 Kenneth Ingle
    March 8, 2010 at 18:48

    I cannot agree with “Vintner.” We can only avoid making the same mistakes in the future, if we learn from those in the times gone by. Already many have forgotten – World War 2 – was called a war to end wars. Those famous words “Never again” were not put into political reality, therefore we are back to square one. If nobody learns, the dead died in vain.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: