Indulgences for the political class

Clarice Feldman and Rosslyn Smith
Rick Moran seems to find virtue in the resolution on Armenian genocide. I do not. It takes little effort to say never again about horrors from the past. If the same people who support this resolution were also shouting NO about the major current crisis, the threat of a nuclear armed Iran, I might agree more with Rick about the importance of the gesture. 

But I fear votes such as this one are used as a plenary indulgence by Congressional leaders. By condemning events long past, those promoting this resolutions seek to completely absolve themselves for failing to deal constructively with atrocities currently in the making. 

It was terrible that the West did nothing in 1915 to help the Armenians, but everyone who bore responsibility is well beyond the reach of earthly justice. To alienate a key Muslim ally in the war on terror by politically embarrassing the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the perpetrators helps no one except those in Congress who need their regular fix of cheap political virtue  

In fact, I find this resolution particularly ironic. Not only is it against our nation's current interests, but it displays a trait that is almost un-American in the way it dredges up the past. Americans are known for our short collective memory.  I doubt if a fraction of the population knows anything about World War I other than to guess that it probably came before World War II, much less how many people died because of it and why.  With our culture's emphasis on the future and the value of personal as opposed to collective responsibility we find it hard to grasp that many in other parts of the World treat events from centuries ago as if they had personally happened to them only the day before yesterday. 

While ignoring the past as Americans are wont to do has its perils, obsessing over it as is common in the Middle East tends to be much worse. Those who obsess over the past often fail to see current issues and future outcomes.  Ninety two years from today will the sponsors of this resolution find themselves facing condemnation for not acting on any number of evils in today's world.?  I hope not, but I fear that if Congress continues on their current course the answer may well be Yes.  

I propose a statute of limitations on politicians dredging up the past for current gain. Ban all requests for apologies, resolutions of condemnation or demands for reparations for any act outside the recollection of any current member of Congress.  The oldest member, Senator Byrd, was born in 1917. If Senator Byrd can't pull a personal anecdote about the incident from his huge repertoire, the topic should be declared off limits for official Congressional action. 

Historic evils should be the fodder of debates among historians not a quest for political indulgences  among our current political leaders.  The problem with mining collective guilt for political gain is that while it feels good today, the finger pointing never stops, the wounds never heal and hollow gestures tend to be repeatedly mistaken for progress.
Rick Moran seems to find virtue in the resolution on Armenian genocide. I do not. It takes little effort to say never again about horrors from the past. If the same people who support this resolution were also shouting NO about the major current crisis, the threat of a nuclear armed Iran, I might agree more with Rick about the importance of the gesture. 

But I fear votes such as this one are used as a plenary indulgence by Congressional leaders. By condemning events long past, those promoting this resolutions seek to completely absolve themselves for failing to deal constructively with atrocities currently in the making. 

It was terrible that the West did nothing in 1915 to help the Armenians, but everyone who bore responsibility is well beyond the reach of earthly justice. To alienate a key Muslim ally in the war on terror by politically embarrassing the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the perpetrators helps no one except those in Congress who need their regular fix of cheap political virtue  

In fact, I find this resolution particularly ironic. Not only is it against our nation's current interests, but it displays a trait that is almost un-American in the way it dredges up the past. Americans are known for our short collective memory.  I doubt if a fraction of the population knows anything about World War I other than to guess that it probably came before World War II, much less how many people died because of it and why.  With our culture's emphasis on the future and the value of personal as opposed to collective responsibility we find it hard to grasp that many in other parts of the World treat events from centuries ago as if they had personally happened to them only the day before yesterday. 

While ignoring the past as Americans are wont to do has its perils, obsessing over it as is common in the Middle East tends to be much worse. Those who obsess over the past often fail to see current issues and future outcomes.  Ninety two years from today will the sponsors of this resolution find themselves facing condemnation for not acting on any number of evils in today's world.?  I hope not, but I fear that if Congress continues on their current course the answer may well be Yes.  

I propose a statute of limitations on politicians dredging up the past for current gain. Ban all requests for apologies, resolutions of condemnation or demands for reparations for any act outside the recollection of any current member of Congress.  The oldest member, Senator Byrd, was born in 1917. If Senator Byrd can't pull a personal anecdote about the incident from his huge repertoire, the topic should be declared off limits for official Congressional action. 

Historic evils should be the fodder of debates among historians not a quest for political indulgences  among our current political leaders.  The problem with mining collective guilt for political gain is that while it feels good today, the finger pointing never stops, the wounds never heal and hollow gestures tend to be repeatedly mistaken for progress.