DEFFINITION: Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group. (The term “genocide” was coined by Raphael Lemkin (1900–1959), a Polish-Jewish legal scholar, in 1944, firstly from the Latin “gens, gentis,” meaning “birth, race, stock, kind” or the Greek root génos (γένος) (same meaning); secondly from Latin -cidium (cutting, killing) via French –cide.)


The Armenian Genocide was carried out by the “Young Turk” government of the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1916 (with subsidiaries to 1922-23). One and a half million Armenians were killed, out of a total of two and a half million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.

Most Armenians in America are children or grandchildren of the survivors, although there are still many survivors amongst us.

Armenians all over the world commemorate this great tragedy on April 24, because it was on that day in 1915 when 300 Armenian leaders, writers, thinkers and professionals in Constantinople (present day Istanbul) were rounded up, deported and killed. Also on that day in Constantinople, 5,000 of the poorest Armenians were butchered in the streets and in their homes.


Much anger has been directed against President Obama by the Armenian community, this past week, because of his refusal to even use the term genocide much less push for passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution in the House and Senate. I understand their point – it was a campaign promise of his.

But I would like to point out that the term did not even exist back in 1915/1916. Which of course does not mean the term could not now be applied. But while we are doing that, I would like to present my own personal issue.

There was no “famine” in Ireland. There was plenty of food. A land of plenty as a matter of fact. What there was was a potato blight. A failure of one poor crop. And as one who has eaten a potato grown in my own rocky, Irish soil, I can tell you, they suck. If you find yourself eating a tasty potato in Ireland these days, chances are it came from Iran. The potato was merely the only crop the English would let the Irish grow to survive. What happened in Ireland was the systematic starving and exiling of the native Irish by the ruling English. That blight was the luckiest thing that ever happened to the English – saved them the trouble of taking more extreme/direct measures.  Approximately one million people died of starvation and another million fled the country.

Frankly, I see that as the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group. But heaven forbid America ever say that to the English or declare it a genocide in a resolution. And when folks like myself or Sinead O’Connor say it, we are labeled crackpots.

So while I sympathize with my Armenian friends, I have said to them on more than one occasion, “Suck it up. We had to and for a longer period of time. America is never going to go against/offend a country that is of use to them.”

Just sayin’…

P.S. There was only one group that sent financial aid to the starving Irish. The poor downtrodden American Indians. They understood only too well, what the English did to the natives. So they sent what they could. And that is why today, whenever there is a memorial famine walk, you will find representatives there from the Native Americans.

P.P.S. Added 15 May: Seems there was another group. Just read this the other day:  How New York’s Jewish community tried to rescue Irish in Great Famine

Published by Kate Eileen Shannon

Artist, Crafter, Writer, purveyor of ephemera and bagatelle

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