Friday Marks Centennial Of Armenian Mass Killings During World War I

April 22, 2015 8:27 PM

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Even as the Obama White House announced its observance of the centennial, its press release spoke of atrocities and avoided the use of the word genocide - that, despite President Obama having run on the issue that what happened to the Armenians should be spoken of as genocide. Well, the American writer Peter Balakian has studied our country's response to those events a hundred years ago. Back in 2003, he wrote "The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide And America's Response." He joins us from Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., where he's a professor of English. Welcome to the program.

SIEGEL: First, a vocabulary lesson, please. The word genocide was coined in 1944 to describe the Nazis' extermination campaign against the Jews. That's about 30 years after the slaughter of the Armenians. Is the case for using it to describe what happened to the Armenians ironclad?

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