April has gone past in a flash of light, but the choices and events that have happened will go down in history. Since 2020 began, we have become accustomed to the idea that we are living through a historical time, but, pandemic aside, April 2021 brought us dates that future high school students will write essays about.

Pick one of the following and write approx. 1,500 words:

  1. Was Biden justified in recognising the Armenian Genocide? Why/why not?
  2. Was the media’s portrayal of Prince Philip’s character following his death accurate? Discuss.

Biden Goes Where Others Were Scared To

Many Presidents and Presidential candidates have campaigned on recognising the Armenian Genocide as a genocide. Obama did in 2008 but never got around to officially recognising it, Bush did too but then he had to backtrack to keep Turkey on his side when he decided to go into Iraq.

Biden campaigned to recognise the genocide, but whether or not he would make this recognition official was the real question. On April 24th, 106 years since the start of the Armenian Genocide, Biden put his big boy boots on and said what many already knew:

The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today… We honor their story. We see that pain. We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated.

The Armenian Genocide happened in the Ottoman Empire in 1915. Armenians were kicked out of their homes and forced to walk into the desert, towards Syria and Mesopotamia. Men, women, and children died due to starvation, dehydration, and disease, or were killed along the way by the Ottoman Empire Military. The estimated number of victims ranged from 1-1.5 million.

According to USHMM: “Ottoman military forces march Armenian men from Kharput to an execution site outside the city. Kharput, Ottoman Empire, March 1915-June 1915

Turkey’s response has been to claim the genocide ever happened, which has always been their position. The Turkish believe that some Armenians were killed, but not enough to justify the term ‘genocide’.

In a statement the Turkish foreign ministry said:

‘It is clear that the said statement does not have a scholarly and legal basis… [it] will open a deep would that undermines our mutual trust and friendship. We call on the US President to correct this grave mistake.’

Biden doesn’t seem to be taking the bait though, and only time will tell what Erdogan will do to ensure that Biden knows the extent of the ‘wound’ he has caused.

We Say Cheerio to Prince Philip

Prince Philip meeting Indigenous Australian cultural performers in 2002. Photograph: Fiona Hanson/PA, The Guardian.

Prince Philip died on April 9th, 2021. He had been married to the Queen for 73 years. And while there was an outpouring of support and sadness from the media, there seemed to be one thing missing: the fact that Philip has some, well, interesting opinions.

Lots of media outlets used the term ‘colourful’ humour, but the reality is that Philip often made racist and sexist remarks. While, yes, he was a good husband to the Queen, and served her well, the fact remains, he was not perfect and shouldn’t be remembered as such.

My theory is that because the Queen is such a beloved figure, many don’t want to remind themselves of Philip’s questionable remarks for fear of hurting the Queen. But, seeing as this is a monthly column in a uni magazine that I doubt the Queen reads (although what a treat it would be if she did), I’ll go ahead and remind you.

  • While on tour in Australia in 2002, he asked a group of First Nations people, ‘Do you still throw spears at each other?’
  • He told the President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, in 2003, ‘You look like you’re ready for bed!’ Obasanjo was dressed in traditional robes.
  • In 1988 he said, ‘I don’t think a prostitute is more moral than a wife, but they are the same thing.’
  • In 1986 speaking to a British student studying in China: ‘If you stay here much longer, you will go home with slitty eyes.’
  • ‘If it has four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and it flies but is not an airplane and if it swims and it is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it,’ at a World Wildlife Fund meeting in 1986.
  • In 2020 when speaking to Minister of State for Defence, Annabel Goldie, ‘that’s a nice tie… Do you have any knickers in that material?’

For a more comprehensive list of Philips comments, although still not nearly complete, click here.

Prince Phillip’s death had to be reported on in the media, but the media has a responsibility to report honestly. The entirety of Phillip’s character was not put on a show, skewing the way the public remembered him.

In the end, April has shown us that memories don’t always stand as great evidence. While Turkey seems to have convinced itself that the Armenian Genocide did not happen, facts and reason show otherwise. And, though the media has forgotten what the term ‘colourful humour’ means, a simple google search could’ve easily shown them that colourful is not a synonym for racism or sexism.

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