Battlefields of the Mind

Garen Yegparian
Garen Yegparian

Garen Yegparian

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

While we’ve done well on our actual, physical, battlefields on both the eastern (Azerbaijani, Artsakh along with its surrounding lowlands) and western (Turkish, remember Sartarabad, Bash Abaran, and Gharakilisseh) fronts, when it comes to the hollows of the heart and plane of the brain, we have not been quite as successful, especially the latter, on which this piece concentrates.

A few recent examples reminded of this yawning gap in our efforts. On Roku, one of the TV network aggregators, there is an option where programming in various languages is broadcast. These include Armenian, Assyrian, English, Farsi, French, Hebrew, Kurdish, Turkish (Azerbaijan and Turkey), and probably a few others I’m forgetting. This includes news broadcasts, which, in the Turkic cases, more resembles propaganda, judging by the few times I’ve seen the English versions. All of this is normal. But, it turns out that in recent months, the Armenian options have decreased. The Farsi seems inaccessible, while the Turkish ones are going strong. Not many non-Turks are likely to view that stuff, but those that do will take away the wrong information.

This reflects our insufficient attention to the world of the media, news and otherwise. We, Armenians, have talked about this for at least three or four decades, yet have not done anything coherent on this front. Fortunately, a few of us have made some inroads when it comes to news, and others in entertainment. Now, these folks should be organized and assisted in supporting a new generation from our community to enter these fields that influence people’s perceptions and understanding of the world. Otherwise, we will forever be angered by items such as this one, “The Armenian Lobby’s Tenuous Relations with President-elect Trump” by Alexander Murinson, which appeared on December 8 in “The American Spectator”. You may recognize the author as one of Baku’s hacks, but most readers would not, and therefore what he writes will seem “credible” to a vast majority of readers.

Given that Murinson harks from the world of academia, let’s move to that arena next. Universities, institutes, professors, and academic/research/policy publications are where the base for informed action is laid. For a while, back in the 1970s and 1980s, there was a broadening drive to create chairs of Armenian studies at universities. That has sputtered out, and some of the chairs seem to be guided by a quote attributed to Nina Garsoian, herself the holder of the chair at Columbia until a couple of decades ago, something to the effect that “Armenian history ends in the 16th century; everything else is politics”. But, this seems to be slowly changing as more and more public events are organized by these centers that address issues of current relevance. Of course, this should not displace basic research on those same issues. The expansion of centers of Armenian learning must be reenergized and expanded to include a greater presence in important journals. Otherwise, articles as misleading as “Stop Victim Blaming Erdogan for ISIS” which recently appeared in “Foreign Policy” will guide decision makers in Washington, D.C. and other capitals.

Another important front that we have been weak on is the legal arena. Happily, this is changing. With the enactment of anti-Genocide-denial laws in Europe; California’s insurance legislation and subsequent suits (with mixed success); Ara Babian’s and others’ analyses of the international, treaty- and law-based, grounds for our rights; the See of Cilicia’s ongoing legal action to reclaim its properties from Turkey; and the latest, the establishment in Washington, D.C. of “The Armenian Legal Center for Justice and Human Rights”, we seem to finally be giving the legal approach its due place in our efforts.

The common thread among all these factors of our struggle is organization and expansion to all fronts/forms of working to regain our lands and be made whole for our losses. If you can contribute in any way to expansion in any of these domains, please get to it.

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