1915-2015: 100-year Memoriam of the Armenian Genocide

 

Unless you live under a rock (or are graceful enough not to use Yahoo! as your mail domain), then you’ve heard of Kim Kardashian’s recent trip to Armenia for the 100-year-memoriam of the Armenian Genocide, the systematic atrocities committed by the Ottoman Turks against the Armenians from 1915 to 1918. Historians estimate that 1.5 million Armenians were massacred during this event—along with thousands more who were tortured, expropriated, and humiliated.

Turkey, however, has denied ever committing a genocide, claiming that the figures are overblown and refusing to recognize the event.

Now the context around which you’ve heard of this news—whether it was the top shots of the week criticizing Kim’s outfit or pseudo-intellectual Reddits on whether she truly cares or whether this is just a publicity stunt—might be different.

And it is this context I want to evaluate, deconstruct, and ultimately, destroy. Articles that outline all of the “fashion moments” of Kim and Khloe on their recent trip or worse yet, criticize their “inappropriateness” blur the true significance of Kim’s new trip—bringing attention to a historical tragedy that does not depend on the precise cut of her red jumpsuit.

But as you’ll notice, a common feature among these articles is that they’re written by the so-called “low-brow” platforms of so-called journalism—fashion magazines. Now by no means am I suggesting that these are not appropriate forms of recreational reading. If you want to spend an afternoon browsing through the latest celebrity gossip or scrolling along to your favorite’s top 10 whatever, that is all a-okay. But these aren’t magazines you’d necessarily cite in your academic papers (although exceptions are, as always, due).

So how are the so-called “intellectual” platforms treating Kim’s recent journey? Al Jazeera contributor Belen Fernandez sees it as a mere “Instagram Strategy”—Kim’s doing it all for attention and for money.

And what’s wrong with that? Wouldn’t all Armenians everywhere, including myself, want attention for the Armenian Genocide? We’ve been marching, protesting, and howling for some form of recognition for decades now, but now that Kim K. has sparked the #Armenia trend, it is somehow not genuine and “good” enough, whatever that means?

When Amal Alamuddin Clooney spoke out against the event, accusing Turkey of “hypocrisy” regarding freedom of speech rights for defending a Turkish man who called the Armenian Genocide an “international lie,” most of the focus was deterred by the Telegraph’s idiotic question of “what she was wearing?” Although Alamuddin handled the ridiculousness gracefully, it is nonetheless a trend that most women are subjected to when attempting to speak out or act against a sociocultural or historical issue—their actions are minimized to their outfits.

What Amal Alamuddin wasn’t subjected to, however, was a questioning of her “true motives.” Nobody questioned why she was defending Armenia in the trial or whether she was doing it as a publicity stunt or not. So what’s different about Kim Kardashian? That you don’t like her family, her outfits, her choice of life? That you might not appreciate her selfies as art or her rise to fame as “well deserved”? So what?!

Thanks to Kim Kardashian, the Armenian Genocide is a trending topic, and so what if it’s on Twitter? It is a worldwide platform that brings recognition to the event we’ve been fighting for almost a century. So what if it has sparked what you might look down on as mere “Top 10” lists of “interesting facts” about Armenians? It is a recognition our culture and our history needs in order to put a face, a voice, and a humanity to the millions of massacred souls of 1915—our great grandparents.

Serj Tankian, the lead vocalist of the metal band System of a Down and a prominent vocalist and contributor to the Armenian Genocide awareness movement, also praised Kim Kardashian’s consistent and vociferous commemoration of the Genocide, stating that despite the “flak” she receives for literally everything she does, she’s been “valuable.”

And this value has been one that’s magnified the silence of others who should be speaking out against the Armenian Genocide, namely our President, Barack Obama. In fact, only 43 U.S. states have officially recognized the Armenian Genocide. In a telling article by the Washington Post entitled “Be as Brave as Kim Kardashian and the Pope, Mr. President: Call the Armenian Genocide a ‘Genocide,’” Chris Bohjalian calls out Barack Obama on his silence and asserts that Kim K.’s recent trip is “no laughing matter,” but is a “poignant and powerful” move to raise awareness for a historical tragedy.

Despite what your personal feelings might be towards Kim Kardashian and her whole clan, despite what you might feel about her outfits, her celebrity antics, and her fame, you cannot deny the headline-making prowess she holds at the moment.

So isn’t it great, commendable, formidable, and downright badass of her to use that fame for a personal and historical cause? It is about time the world followed Kim Kardashian and recognized the Armenian people’s, my people’s, tragedy for what it really is: a genocide.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

You can get involved with March for Justice and show your support by participating in the various marches scheduled.

You can also sign this petition for a changed Google doodle in commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.

 

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