WASHINGTON, DC — The Library of Congress, in a letter sent Friday to the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), put in writing its refusal to correct its outdated “Armenian Massacres” subject heading to “Armenian Genocide” in the wake of last year’s Congressional passage of Armenian Genocide legislation (H.Res.296 and S.Res.150).
In a December 4, 2019, letter to the Library of Congress, ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian had called on Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden to “bring this great American institution’s policies and practices into alignment with this resolution’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide and its clearly stated rejection of any and all efforts to enlist, engage, or otherwise associate the United States Government with denial of the Armenian Genocide.” The ANCA letter went on to call on the Library to direct the Congressional Research Service and the libraries, offices, services, and other entities within the Library of Congress to “end the practice of using euphemistic, equivocal, or evasive language to avoid the term Armenian Genocide.”
On June 19th, following the launch two weeks ago of an ANCA online campaign, the Library of Congress, despite being an agency of the US federal government’s legislative branch, a co-equal partner of the executive and judicial branches, justified its refusal to make this correction because it “defers to the President and the State Department on the terminology and refrains from using the word genocide in the official subject heading.”
“Prior to Raphael Lemkin coining of the term ‘genocide’ in 1944, the term ‘Armenian Massacres’ was a broadly accepted and entirely acceptable subject heading for books on this subject. After the term genocide came into common usage (including in provisions of U.S. and international law), and – more directly – as a result of the Republic of Turkey’s global campaign to deny the Armenian Genocide, the term “Armenian Massacres” came to be commonly understood as evasive, euphemistic terminology deployed by Ankara and its allies for the explicit purpose of downplaying the Armenian Genocide and diminishing the full historic, moral, political, and legal meaning of this crime,” said Hamparian. “Today, the term ‘Armenian Massacres,’ despite its clearly innocent origins, is most commonly employed in civic discourse as a form of denial, a cynical phrase used to obscure the truth or a stand-in to avoid use of the proper phrase, ‘Armenian Genocide.’ We look forward to remaining engaged – along with our Congressional allies, community supporters, and coalition partners – until the Library of Congress reflects the clearly expressed will of Congress.”
The ANCA will continue to press for this correction and encourages individuals to request these changes via www.anca.org/library and additional online initiatives that will be rolled out in the coming days and weeks.
The full text of the Library of Congress letter is available here.
The PDF of the December 2019 ANCA letter to the Library of Congress is available here.