WASHINGTON – Pope Francis managed to say the obvious in comments during a trip to Bolivia last July. Eight months later, the Obama administration is still struggling to give it a name.
“Today we are dismayed to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus,” Francis said, as quoted in a dispatch from the Jerusalem Post.
“In this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place and it must end,” Francis said.
Genocide is the name.
It may be because President Obama brushed off and ridiculed ISIS, or ISIL, as the “junior varsity” of terrorist movements; perhaps because it interfered with the narrative following his withdrawal of all our troops from Iraq, that the word has become politically incorrect among Democrats.
Now that this junior varsity controls massive tracts of Iraq, where thousands of American troops lost their lives, and Syria, the issue of whether ISIS is guilty of genocide has been sloughed off to some sarcophagus at the U.S. State Department.
In an effort to resurrect the word, a group called the Philos Project, a collaboration of expatriate Assyrian Christian organizations, has been constrained to send a 40-page document to John Kerry, secretary of state, and to what the authors say are “appropriate offices” at the White House.
Such is the course of correct speech.
“Our short letter can in no way comprehensively summarize the scope of ISIS’ atrocities,” the project’s letter said. “It is no overstatement to say that ISIS’ crimes are on the scale of what was done by the Nazis or the Khmer Rouge [in Southeast Asia.]
“… As if to remove any doubt of ISIS’ intentions with regard to the world’s entire Christian community, ISIS has publicly announced its aspiration to open a slave market ‘in Rome.’ ”
To be evenhanded in this, the American government has always been slow to recognize determined efforts to wipe out a whole people, or an entire race, or a religion. To his credit, President Bill Clinton voiced deep regrets for not moving against the genocide in Rwanda.
But we are still ruminating over what to call the extermination of an entire population of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire and the successor Islamic Republic of Turkey. It involved the murder and deportation, depending on estimates, of between 200,000 and 2 million people. That was a century ago.
Blinded by anti-Semitism, and complacency, America was never roused against the Nazi campaigns against European Jews until World War II ended, despite many warnings from people who narrowly escaped the horrors of the great Holocaust.
As hard as it is to accept today, hatred of Jews was institutional in America, reaching to the highest levels of the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt. The story of Kurt Klein of Buffalo, a native of Waldorf, Germany, attests to that.
Klein and his sister fled to America in the late 1930s to earn enough money to bring their parents out of the Third Reich. In futility, Klein padded the hallways of our State Department for weeks begging for visas for his parents.
He was met with stony silence. His folks perished at Auschwitz.
On March 23, two days before Good Friday, the Little Sisters of the Poor, a community of habited nuns who care for the elderly, will have their own encounter with American intolerance. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear whether the Obama regime can force the nuns to buy insurance for employees’ birth control, and abortion-inducing drugs, contrary to Catholic teaching.