Winners or Losers?

By Minas Kojayan PhD,  Van Nuys, CA, 7 December 2007

The young man, Harout, who approached me with contained anger is a computer expert, a modern individual, plays the guitar, has an impeccable American accent, and most importantly, tells me that during his elementary education in Beirut, Armenian History was his favorite subject.

By Minas Kojayan PhD,  Van Nuys, CA, 7 December 2007

The young man, Harout, who approached me with contained anger is a computer expert, a modern individual, plays the guitar, has an impeccable American accent, and most importantly, tells me that during his elementary education in Beirut, Armenian History was his favorite subject.

Recently he was angered at work because a "pure" American coworker of the same age had argued with him that the U.S. government should not concern itself with Genocide issues. Harout tried to use several pieces of evidence and current events to convince his colleague that the U.S. government is "seriously" concerned with Genocide issues, as well as matters related to the national identity of people who are oceans away. Harout also used other examples, but the "pure" American stayed firm in his views.

Now, during a meeting over a project he asked me, "Sir, why do we give so much importance to these people and their government? Why do we waste so much energy? What is our gain in having Jack, Robert or George recognize the 1915 massacres as the first Genocide of the 20th Century?"

Harout was not speaking out of hopelessness, but rather as an insulted young man who does not tolerate the "pure" American’s persistence. "Who are they that we should beg them and fall at their feet," he asks. Of course I tried to enrich his patriotic armory with fresh ammunition, and I was content in telling him that regardless of what others might say, we should continue our role and our struggle because we have no other choice.

Yes, it is both pleasing and consoling that the Foreign Affairs Committee voted in favor of the House Resolution 106. The recognition of the Genocide and condemnation of its perpetrators crossed yet another hurdle in the arduous road. Some are adamant to believe, however, that this achievement is not really significant, and the more important issue is the acceptance of the resolution by the Senate.
 
The current reality is that the "vital" interests of the U.S. are once again given a higher priority. The dramatic episodes which ensued during the past several months demonstrated that the Armenians are far from having the ruling elite of this country reach the previously mentioned recognition and condemnation. However, It should be pointed out that the American, English, European and Russian press had constant coverage of the events as well as related local and broader issues, both prior and after the vote. This caused a certain change in mentality. For many an issue thought to be dormant suddenly surfaced.
The following need to be underlined:

  • The press and media (BBC, ABC, The London Times, The Globe, The L.A. Times, etc.) were obliged to make historic references to the events concerning the Genocide, whether through pictures or video images, in order to enlighten the readers or the audience. Until now these images were presented to the public in a much smaller scale.
  • Investigations revealed evidence of conspiracies committed behind closed doors; money played a huge role under the guise of lobbying, having stripped several American government officials of morality, human values and justice.
  • Turkey must never be irritated so that Jewish and Israeli interests, which are extremely important for US, are not jeopardized.
  • Irrespective of its international standing, Turkey will always raise a finger at the most powerful nation in the world; it will always be able to lay old or new cards at the playing table – it can blockade or limit activities at Incirlic, agitate anti-American sentiments, make threats that Muslim fanaticism can mount in Turkey, etc.
  • Any politician who has in the past spoken in support of the the recognition of the Genocide will put aside his favorable comments and defend White House policies once he becomes part of the administration, This is carried to the extent of betraying his own principles by fighting against recognition of the Genocide (recall the appeal made by former and present Secretaries of State to the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi).
  • Former high-ranking government officials (Senators, Representatives, etc.) will turn the recognition or denial of the Genocide into a source of profit, and as lobbyists will defend Turkish interests in exchange for tidy sums of money.
  • In the words of several Americans the following question will justly be asked time and again, "If the perpetrator of genocide is my ally, then should he not be condemned?"
  • The "mutually beneficial" notion or political attitude that it is time to forget the tragedies of the past and look to the future must constantly be marketed and forced down the throat of the public.
  • Recognition of the Genocide at various levels is the result of the relentless and determined efforts of the Diaspora. In response Turkey will exert pressure on the Republic of Armenia (recall the incident whereby flights by Armavia were not permitted to fly over Turkey).
  • During the past several months the vigorous discussion of the recognition of the Genocide served as a hurricane amid U.S. – Turkey – Armenian Diaspora relations. This was no surprise. So far a winner or a loser can not be determined. However, one thing is certain: the issue of the recognition of the Genocide was raised yet to another level, a goal that is merely a moral victory.
     

The new Armenian generation has no reason to be discouraged, and should not be discouraged even if in the upcoming months the Resolution does not reach a majority in the Congress. Rather, it is important to always consider the positive aspects. This generation is born, raised and educated in this country and is better informed about the rules of the game. It will carry the baton and continue the struggle until justice has prevailed.

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