Quote: “I consider myself a friend of Turkey, but friends don’t let friends commit crimes against humanity.” Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey
Figure of Speech: eunoia (yoo-NOY-a), rhetorical selflessness.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution declaring Turkey’s 1915 slaughter of Armenians “genocide.” Istanbul is ready to blow its fez over the bill, while opponents note that Turkey is our only reliable ally in the Middle East.
Chill, Turkish people! grins Congressman Smith. We’re just doing a friendly intervention! Um, 92 years late.
Smith misuses the powerful tool of eunoia, claiming one merely wants to serve one’s audience or opponent. Eunoia is all about disinterest — which, despite Figaro’s own computer dictionary, does not mean “apathy” or “unconcern.” It means “free of special interests.” (We’re sure that the large number of Armenian-Americans in New Jersey had nothing to do with Smith’s vote.)
But the real issue isn’t about preventing the Turks from slaughtering more Armenians. It’s about values politics. Americans have lost the art of arguing deliberatively, with future-oriented discourse about real choices. We’re stuck on past-tense rhetoric of crime & punishment and the tribal rhetoric of Right & Wrong. And so, instead of dealing with terrorism and Iraq, Congress boldly confronts the late Ottoman Empire.
And then let’s do something about the Athenian slaughter of the Melians in 416 B.C. After all, the Greek are our friends, too.
Snappy Answer: “With friends like you, who needs America?”