Armenian Genocide Museum– will this help or hurt the cause?

April 14, 2008

The Armenians are creating their own privately funded genocide museum in Washington DC. I think this is fantastic in so much as we need to remember what has happened in order to understand it. The Jerusalem Post noted that slogan of never forgetting the Holocaust must apply to all genocides:

By failing to do so, we diminish ourselves and squander the moral authority we gained – gained not only because Jews are commanded to remember, but because Germany owned up to its crimes.

The Armenians and the Jews have much in common: atrocities, expulsion, our own languages and cultures, and schisms within our faiths. But we Jews have been spared one grievous harm: as Berenbaum has noted, the fact that Germany acknowledged the Holocaust enabled the Jews to commemorate it appropriately – not to argue about whether it happened.

The Museum to be called the Armenian Genocide Museum of America will be housed down 14th street approximately 20 minutes by foot from the current Holocaust museum and only a few blocks from the White House. The museum purports to serve as the prototype for modern crimes against humanity, including the Holocause, Cambodia, Rwanda and Darfur. The museum organizers hope its strategic location and message will position itself to ensure that the White House remembers and focuses on the Armenian genocide.

In a town so infused with museums and causes. I’m not sure location near the White House will have much of an effect on policy makers. It may however be a way to highlight their cause to the millions of tourists who flood through each year.

I just thought I would take a moment to highlight the museum because I only recently learned about its construction. I wonder though what DC will be like if there is a museum dedicated to every genocide. Should we not create an amalgamated museum to effectively study all genocide and to alert people to the existence of the myriad of cross cutting phenomenon? Would it be more effective? Most interesting? More promising for the future? I’d love to hear your responses.

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