Kim Kardashian wrote an op-ed in Time, calling on President Obama to use the word “genocide” when describing the 1915 massacres of Armenians by Ottoman Turks. Kardashian talked about her own Armenian heritage and how her family narrowly escaped becoming victims of the atrocities.
Kim Kardashian’s great, great grandparents migrated from Armenia to Los Angeles in 1914 according to the op-ed.
In 1915, Ottoman Turks killed 800,000 to 1.5 million Armenians through the systematic destruction of the male population followed by forced death marches through the desert. The Kardashians avoided the genocide by immigrating to the U.S.
Fear led many Armenians to change their last names, but not the Kardashian family, which still carries the characteristic “ian” on the family name. Now, over 100 years later, Kim wants Obama to show similar courage by calling the Armenian massacres a “genocide,” regardless of what Turkey might think.
“I would like President Obama to use the word ‘genocide.’ It’s very disappointing he hasn’t used it as president. We thought it was going to happen this year. I feel like we’re close – but we’re definitely moving in the right direction.”
Before becoming president, Obama didn’t sidestep the G-word when talking to Armenian voters, according to the Guardian. In fact, Samantha Power, the American ambassador to the U.N. and former Obama campaigner, promised the president would “call a spade a spade” and “speak truth about it.”
“I hope you in the Armenian community will take my word for it, but if not, I hope you will just pay attention in the coming days to everything that comes out of that person’s mouth, Barack Obama’s mouth, because he is a person who can be trusted.”
The U.S. has never formally recognized the Armenian Genocide as a genocide, although some individual states have.
Of course, as a candidate, promising a group of voters is quite easy, but as President, Obama has to deal with geopolitics.
Turkey, which continues to deny the genocide, is a close U.S. ally and the gateway into ISIS-controlled Syria. The country’s cooperation in American anti-terrorist efforts is important as thousands of jihadists try to pass through Turkey’s borders.
Obama now appears to be trying to please both sides. In his Tuesday statement for the centennial of the genocide, Obama said the U.S. would “urge a full, frank and just acknowledgement of the facts” but never used the word “genocide.”
Nevertheless, the middle ground doesn’t appear to be working.
The statement disappointed members of the Armenian community like Kim Kardashian, who hoped the president would live up to his campaign promises. Turkey was angry too, saying Obama was siding with the Armenians.
It seems there’s no pleasing all the people all the time.
To raise awareness, Kim Kardashian toured Armenia on the eve of the centennial of the genocide with her husband Kanye, sister Khloé and daughter North. Kim wrote it was a trip the family wanted to make for decades.
“My dad would have loved to go. My grandparents would have loved to go. My great-grandparents would have loved to go. None of them were able to go.”
Armenians were hesitant about a visit from the Kardashians, but the trip was a success according to historian Vahram Ter-Matevosyan.
“This discourse shows that Armenian identity is still alive. I am sure Turkey is having nightmares about it. Some there said that Kim Kardashian was the latest weapon the Armenians are using. Once she leaves, she will be missed.”
Kim Kardashian’s full op-ed and call for President Obama to call the Armenian massacre a genocide can be found here.
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