BY ALIK OURFALIAN
Dear Armenian-American Millennials,
I’m sick and tired of Armenian-Americans, especially our generation of millennials, thinking our biggest concern is genocide recognition when it comes to supporting political candidates.
Over the past few days, I’ve seen a lot of “s/he isn’t going to recognize the genocide”-type comments on social media, as well as people criticizing others for voting with Armenian-American issues in mind because “neither candidate will recognize the genocide anyway.” The U.S. stance on Armenian-American issues extends far beyond genocide recognition. This is not me making a case for any specific candidate. All I’m asking is that you recognize that we have other concerns and issues and to think about how those concerns are affecting our community.
The situation in Artsakh today is very real. Our homeland continues to be under attack by Azerbaijan. Just a few months ago in April, we saw how quickly matters escalated. The U.S., as one of the leading powers on the globe, has a lot of influence, even halfway across the world. Its foreign policies concerning Azerbaijan — and its biggest ally, Turkey — should be of great importance to us. So far, the U.S. stance has been in support of Azerbaijan’s claims to Artsakh. The U.S. has interests in Azerbaijan’s oil supply, which is why it ignores the gross violations of human rights and democracy taking place in Azerbaijan. It also has a military base in Turkey, the strategic location of which is important to the U.S. given the situation in the Middle East. The U.S. and Turkey are also NATO allies, having an obligation to support each other in case of war.
It’s not difficult to see why a U.S. foreign policy favoring Turkey and Azerbaijan has the potential to have severe consequences for us as Armenian-Americans. Think for a second about the worst-case scenario: Azerbaijan declaring full-fledged war against Artsakh. Now think about what the U.S. would do. Think about the effects of U.S. foreign policy then, not only on our Armenian-American community, but on our brothers and sisters in Artsakh and Armenia. These are the things we should concern ourselves with and worry about. These are the concerns we should make known to our representatives in government.
Our community no longer cares about a U.S. president’s use of the word genocide. Aside from pissing off Turkey for a few days, that’s not going to do much. Reagan used the word genocide in 1981, yet we’re still in the same predicament today. When it comes to the Armenian Genocide, our demands from Turkey and the international community are so much bigger than that. We want reparations. We want our historic homeland back. Until the United States, as in the U.S. Congress, recognizes the genocide and works with the international community to demand recognition and reparations from Turkey, a U.S. president’s words don’t mean much.
So I beg you, in the future, read up on the issues we face. Understand our community’s stance on these issues. Think about a candidate’s policy and its potential effect. Don’t use genocide recognition as the only criteria in evaluating Armenian-American issues.
Alik Ourfalian, An Armenian-American Millennial