Leaders in Minnesota’s Armenian and Jewish communities recently published an op-ed in The Star Tribune condemning Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN-05) decision to vote “present” on a resolution acknowledging the Armenian Genocide.
As The Minnesota Sun reported, the U.S. House overwhelming passed a resolution this week to make it “the policy of the United States to commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance.”
Omar was one of three representatives to vote “present” on the resolution because “accountability and recognition of genocide should not be used as a cudgel in a political fight,” she said in a statement.
“It should be done based on academic consensus outside the push and pull of geopolitics,” Omar added.
Alejandro Baer, director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota; Rev. Tadeos Barseghyan, pastor of St. Sahog Armenian Church in St. Paul; and Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, called Omar’s vote “distressing” in their recent op-ed.
“We are grateful to Rep. Betty McCollum for co-sponsoring this resolution, and for the support of every other member of Minnesota’s delegation — other than Rep. Ilhan Omar, who inexplicably voted ‘present,’” they write.
The three say their “diaspora communities” share in “the suffering from terrible atrocities of the 20th century.”
“In sharp contrast to this reaffirming work and the broad bipartisan consensus in Congress and our Minnesota delegation, stands Omar’s explanation for her vote,” they continue, noting Omar’s statement “failed to explicitly mention Turkish responsibility.”
“Such comments echo a century of Turkish denialism,” they said of her statement. “The facts are beyond dispute. Broad academic consensus regarding the Armenian Genocide already exists and has long been recognized by the International Association of Genocide Scholars.”
In her statement, Omar pointed to the “transatlantic slave trade and Native American genocide” as reasons why she couldn’t support the resolution.
“The logical fallacy is that somehow recognition of the Armenian Genocide precludes recognition of other heinous misdeeds. Global awareness of the Holocaust proves exactly the contrary,” the three authors respond. “The first and most important step in ensuring that the most painful chapters of our history do not repeat themselves is to honestly acknowledge the past.”
Omar received campaign contributions from one of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s closest allies and was photographed with Erdogan’s ally at an event for the Turkish American Steering Committee.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Ilhan Omar and President Erdogan” by Ilhan Omar.