The Armenian Genocide and Bystanderism
Earlier in the year, we discussed the role of bystanders. Or better yet what makes a bystander, what they do, and what they should’ve done. When asked, people do not like to admit that they are or have ever been bystanders. I remember when I first learned the word bystander in elementary school, it was more seen as a good thing. For some reason, teachers always seemed to explain the word by kind of interpreting that as a bystander you’re not involved. Slowly, as I got older, I learned that being a bystander does not mean you’re not involved at all. I mean, if you knew about a murder that was planned, you kind of have a certain responsibility to stop it. But history shows that the US seems to like being a bystander. I think the US (and allies) were definitely bystanders during the Armenian genocide. The US basically sat back and watched hundreds of people being killed for years without doing anything. Yes, the world was a hectic place then, and often in messy times, people feel hopeless. They feel as though there is nothing they could do to stop anything. However, as a whole nation, I feel like there is really no excuse to do nothing. If the US didn’t want to get into the war or the violence, they could have done other things. In Samantha Power’s book, she mentions that the Armenians were disarmed throughout the war. The US and its allies could have provided armor. The US and other nations should not have just let an entire population be destroyed. The US and our allies should have stepped in and tried to make peace between the conflicting countries. Power starts her novel with a horrific scene of an Armenian shooting someone and killing them—then says that he did it because their people killed his whole entire family. Because the war did not end in a timely manner (which doesn’t justify why it started to begin with), there is still so much hate and grudges held between the countries.
The main reason I think why the US didn’t step in is because everyone likes to protect themselves. The US did not want to put themselves into danger, especially because it was during the time of World War I. The right thing to do always is to help those who need to be helped, and hopefully you get that treatment back when you need it, but unfortunately a lot of our world works like a business transaction.