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Commentary: First Genocide, Now Vericide

Now that the term “genocide” has been established as a “crime against humanity” and is a matter for the courts, it is time for the introduction of another word, but, this time, for use by journalists who report and otherwise comment upon what countries and their leaders say about genocide and lesser matters: Vericide.

Historians should also start using it.

Just as “genocide” is “the deliberate killing of a very large number of people from a particular ethnic group or nation,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “vericide” (not in any dictionary, yet) is “the killing of truth.”

It is common knowledge that the coinage of the word “genocide” had its genesis with the events of 1915 to 1923 in the Ottoman Empire when the Turks conceived, planned, and executed the attempted complete destruction of the Armenians––followed by that of the Assyrians and the Pontic Greeks.

When asked what he meant by the word that he coined, Rafael Lemkin (who lost 47 members of his family in the genocide of the Jews in World War Two) said “What the Turks did to the Armenians and what the Nazis did to the Jews.”

What may not be common knowledge is that the Genocide of the Armenians spawned another word: “Democide.” Its creator, political scientist R. J. Rummel, defines it as “murder by government.”

It follows, of course, that if a nation commits a genocide it is, indeed, murder by government. After all, who but a government can plan the death of a people in varying degrees of detail and then make available all the agencies of the country to execute those plans? But, it is the word “genocide” that caught on, and is now in general use.

I would like to claim the coinage of that word “vericide.” I cannot. It was created by my late brother, Aram, just a couple of years before his death in 2003, who was thoroughly disgusted as Turkey and her apologists continue to deny the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide.

By the way, what is so fascinating about the denial–the vericide––by the Turks is that the Turks instinctively associate themselves with the words “Armenian Genocide” whenever they are written or uttered. By their reaction, the Turks are accusing themselves. There does not have to be the additional words “. . .by the Turks” for them to protest.

We saw it with the 11-word French statement [“France Recognizes the Genocide of the Armenians in World War One”] that aroused the anger of the Turks (in 2000), although that statement did not mention Turkey, and we saw it also not too long ago with the nine-word statement “To the Victims of the Armenian Genocide of 1915”] etched on the khatchkar [a traditional Armenian “stone-cross,” somewhat like the Celtic Cross] in the memorial in Cardiff, Wales––which was destroyed by “vandals.” And, as I write this, we are seeing it again as the French Assembly is debating whether or not to make denial of the Armenian Genocide (not, please note, the punishment of Turkey) a crime, as is the denial of the genocide of the Jews––the Turks are getting their undergarments into an uncomfortable twist and are blustering and bluffing and threatening.

A Frenchman ignorant of his country’s history could assume that it was the French who committed the genocide of the Armenians and were only now, belatedly, acknowledging the fact. And a Welshman ignorant of his country’s history would assume that it was the Welsh who produced the “victims” in 1915 and were only now belatedly acknowledging the fact. Yet, with no reference to Turkey, the Turks mount demonstrations, bluster, and try blackmail. They know full well that “Armenian Genocide” and “Turkey” are opposite sides of the same coin––whether that coin be Genocide or Democide.

But, enough of history, present and past. Let us now add an important word to our vocabularies in the defense of The Truth: Vericide.

However, vericide can apply to other matters. Such as, for instance, when a president lies about his reason for invading another country, and then defends the action by destroying the truth. Instead of some journalists––for that is the audience for this essay––pointing to a naked emperor, they should be shouting “vericide.”

We are now at the mid-beginning (is that possible?) of a presidential campaign with 11 more months to come and, it can be as certain as little boys with sleds will come out after a snowfall, there will be many attempts at vericide by candidates, nominees, and their cohorts. We have had enough sad experiences, lately, to know that being polite and respectful to authority serves no useful purpose. When the Iraqi women didn’t throw rose petals at the feet of our advancing servicemen, and fathers did not offer their virgin daughters to the servicemen, remember how the journalists (and, of course, politicians) who had been cheerleaders for the war suddenly began to “Yes, but” their way into the truth?

Now, with the introduction of the word, it should be easy to say and print “vericide,” and let the liars defend themselves from the start.

For too long have we seen and heard politicians toying with the truth and, when caught out, listening to them or their staff explaining the insult as “mis-spoke” or some other euphemism meaning, “Ouch, I didn’t think I would be caught.” When it is a blatant lie, it is vericide. The word sounds impressive enough to carry more weight than “lie.”

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