U.S. Representative Dina Titus (D-NV) today sent a bipartisan Congressional letter, signed by more than 50 of her U.S. House colleagues, calling on the Library of Congress to revise its outdated Armenian Massacres subject heading to Armenian Genocide, in the wake of last year’s passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.296 / S.Res.150) in the House and Senate, a move strongly backed by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“We thank Congresswoman Titus for her principled and powerful leadership in this initiative and express our appreciation to all those – in the leadership of the Armenian Caucus and also each signatory of this letter – who are working to have books and other resources on the Armenian Genocide properly cataloged by the Library of Congress and the thousands of other libraries that use its subject heading system,” said ANCA Government Affairs Director Tereza Yerimyan.
Rep. Titus explained, “The use of the term ‘Armenian Genocide’ by the Library of Congress would help paint an accurate picture of history and rightly honor the victims of this atrocity.”
Rep. Titus was joined by 56 U.S. House colleagues in cosigning the letter, including: Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Representatives Julia Brownley (D-CA), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Gil Cisneros (D-CA), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Jim Costa (D-CA), TJ Cox (D-CA), Jason Crow (D-CO), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Dwight Evans (D-PA), John Garamendi (D-CA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Jim Himes (D-CT), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), James Langevin (D-RI), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Andy Levin (D-MI), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), James McGovern (D-MA), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Edwin Perlmutter (D-CO), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Michael San Nicolas (D-GU), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Van Taylor (R-TX), Dina Titus (D-NV), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Norma Torres (D-CA), Lori Trahan (D-MA), David Trone (D-MD), Juan Vargas (D-CA), and Peter Visclosky (D-IN).
Over 10,000 ANCA Rapid Responders and community advocates across the U.S. called on their Congressional leaders to take action using the anca.org/library online action portal. These letters are part of an ongoing ANCA community action effort to secure the Library of Congress subject heading change on issues regarding the Armenian Genocide.
The letter spearheaded by Rep. Titus comes in the face of a June 19, 2020 Library of Congress correspondence informing the ANCA that it would not make this change, even in light of Congressional recognition of the Armenian Genocide, because it deferred to the White House and State Department. The Titus letter, notes that “while we understand the Library of Congress has said it defers to the President and State Department on terminology, we do not believe that determinations of fact by an agency of the legislative branch should be made for political reasons or under pressure from foreign governments.”
The letter makes the case that: “the current subject heading, “Armenian Massacres,” is outdated, having been created before Raphael Lemkin coined the term genocide and prior to the 1948 adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.” It goes on to argue that “the existing heading is also inconsistent with the broad, near-universal academic consensus recognizing the Armenian Genocide as a clear case of genocide as reflected in numerous resolutions, letters, and statements by the International Association of Genocide Scholars.”
The full text of the Titus letter is provided below:
Dear Dr. Hayden,
We write to ask that the Library of Congress, an agency of the legislative branch and the research arm of the U.S. Congress, use the historically accurate term “Armenian Genocide” in its subject heading for books and other materials regarding the Ottoman Empire’s intentional, systematic, and deliberate mass murder, deportation, and exile of more than one and a half million Armenians between 1915 and 1923. We also ask that all libraries, offices, services, and other entities within the Library of Congress use the accurate term “Armenian Genocide” in relevant displays, exhibitions, reports, presentations, conferences, lectures, websites, brochures, and other official events and publications.
The current subject heading, “Armenian Massacres,” is outdated, having been created before Raphael Lemkin coined the term genocide and prior to the 1948 adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Lemkin himself cited the massacres of Armenians as a definitive case of genocide. In 1951, the United States, in a written statement submitted to the International Court of Justice, affirmed that the destruction of Armenians met the U.N. definition of genocide.
The existing heading is also inconsistent with the broad, near-universal academic consensus recognizing the Armenian Genocide as a clear case of genocide as reflected in numerous resolutions, letters, and statements by the International Association of Genocide Scholars. Additionally, it is contrary to the U.S. record, including President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 Proclamation; resolutions adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives in 1975 (H.J.Res.148) and 1984 (H.J.Res.247); and, most notably, near-unanimous resolutions passed by the House (H.Res.296) and Senate (S.Res.150) in 2019 that state the sense of Congress that it is the policy of the United States to recognize the Armenian Genocide and to reject any denial of this crime.
Although originally created to serve legitimate academic and research purposes, the term “Armenian Massacres” has evolved into a euphemistic phrase often deployed to diminish the full historical, moral, legal, and contemporary meaning of the Armenian Genocide. In its modern usage, the outdated phrase conceals these horrific crimes.
While we understand the Library of Congress has said it defers to the president and State Department on terminology, we do not believe that determinations of fact by an agency of the legislative branch should be made for political reasons or under pressure from foreign governments. The use of the term “Armenian Genocide” by the Library of Congress would help paint an accurate picture of history and rightly honor the victims of this atrocity. Thank you for your attention to this request.