On Trump’s Executive Order

A placard displayed by a protester at LAX, one of many such actions that took place across US airports over the weekend
A placard displayed by a protester at LAX, one of many such actions that took place across US airports over the weekend

A placard displayed by a protester at LAX, one of many such actions that took place across US airports over the weekend

BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

Imagine for a moment that an executive order, similar to the one signed by President Donald J. Trump on Friday that curbs the entry of foreigners into the United States was in effect in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide.

Armenian-Americans who passionately boast about their ancestors being survivors of the Genocide who were welcomed by the United States and were allowed a second chance in this country would probably not have been born to recount their family’s story of survival and the opportunities through which they established themselves as responsible Americans and torchbearers of the Armenian Cause.

The same United States, which has progressed into the 21st century, also welcomed Russian-Armenians displaced by the Nazis after World War II; Armenians who were impacted by the Lebanese Civil War and the Iranian Revolution; as well as those who endured hardship in Iraq (before and after the US invasion) and Syria. Let’s not forget that some of the aforementioned countries, especially Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, became safe havens for hundreds of thousands of the Armenians fleeing the Armenian Genocide, who for generations called those countries home.

Our more than century-old existence as a vibrant and active community in the Unites States has become possible due to the American brand of acceptance and opportunity that has allowed us to prosper and flourish in this country.

In 2014, the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region launched the “America We Thank You” campaign to pay tribute to the US efforts to rescue and salvage hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Genocide through the Near East Relief effort, and honored the Near East Relief Foundation the same year during its annual banquet.

Last fall, the ANCA-WR also recognized the Kerr family for its leadership in the Near East Relief effort by bestowing Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and his family the organization’s “Humanitarian Award.”

So it was poignant to read Steve Kerr had voiced his opposition to the executive order, given that his father, Malcolm, was killed by two gunmen in 1984, while he served as president of the American University in Beirut.

“I would just say that as someone whose family member was a victim of terrorism, having lost my father, if we’re trying to combat terrorism by banishing people from coming to this country, by really going against the principles of what our country is about and creating fear, it’s the wrong way of going about it,” Steve Kerr was quoted by Guardian on Monday.

This past week has shown that a Trump presidency is fraught with surprises and unconventional approaches that at a stroke of a pen can upend the most unsuspecting individuals or groups. As has been the case in the past, our advocacy organizations must be alert to immediately address these issues and get in front of matters such as Friday’s executive order.

Regardless of our political affiliations, as a nation that has experienced gruesome injustices and continues to fight against it, we must extend the same courtesies that were extended to us, or our ancestors, and not allow the tenor of the day to dictate our posturing without prejudice.

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14 Comments

  1. Rod said:

    It is incorrect to compare Armenian refugees in the immediate aftermath of the Genocide to the Muslim refugees of today. Among the refugees of today are very bad people who will stop at nothing to kill those who are not like them. This executive order will stop hatred and bigotry from arriving on our shores and will give Christians priority who are attempting to flee Genocide as our people did a century ago. Long live Trump!

  2. ML said:

    Ara, you can open your own house for all those terrorists if you want to. But I’m proudly stand with my president!

  3. Yervant said:

    My opinion: If the US is not allowed to enact reasonable immigration rules, even if they inconvenience some people of a certain religion, then I submit that Armenia should not be able to do so either.

    So, when the Turkish and Azeri borders with Armenia and Artsakh open someday, as they will, then Armenians will not be able to create any rules for Azeris and Turks coming into Armenia because, after all, Azeris and Turks are Muslims, and Armenians will be accused of “discrimination”.

    Of course, if one believes that Armenia should have sovereign rights regarding immigration that but big, bad, evil America does not have the same rights, then I suppose the above is not relevant.

    • ML said:

      Armenia should always have close borders with enemies- states. Don’t expected any improvement in the current century.

  4. Janine said:

    I would suggest that we don’t yet know the outcome of a policy review, and we should keep in mind this is temporary. Also, Trump mentioned needing to change vetting to help Christians — and others — who have been kept out of the UN refugee system for various reasons, to be able to enter the refugee program. Congress unanimously passed a a bill last year naming several groups under threat of genocide, and I hope that room will be made for each. Minorities are under-represented in refugee rolls simply because they are afraid of the UN Camps. Admittedly, a delay is a sad thing. The explanation that was given for this was national security reasons. On that I offer no opinion.

  5. Nora Armani said:

    Very well said! It is very important to not forget where we came from and based on that to extend the same type of courtesy and humanitarian treatment to others who may be in need of our help.
    In France, it is considered a crime not to help someone who is in danger. “Non-Assistance a personne en danger.” (Not helping someone in danger) is considered a crime punishable by law. In the US, this belief seems to be standing on its head, where people do not hesitate to step all over a person who is in danger, and kick him/her in the stomach, when in the most vulnerable position and when unable to defend themselves. It is really a cruel society that has no compassion for anything but the mighty $$.
    Hopefully, our fellow Armenians will wake up, wise up, and see that being humane, humanitarian, and compassionate does not mean being weak and that one day the tables may be turned again, and we can be in that same situation ourselves.

    • ML said:

      Hopefully France will wake up and come of out of the deep shit they are in now because of the immigration from the “friendly” countries.

  6. Arman Kaymakcian said:

    With all due respect to the author of this article there is a very significant difference between Armenian Christians fallowing Christ’s example and the muslims currently pouring in through Europe and into the United States. There were never large scale terroristic attacks perpetrated by Armenians targeting the west.Don’t forget that the last caliphate before the Islamic state was in fact the ottoman Turks. So I don’t believe that is a very good comparison. Too much Kindness and acceptance in the eyes of a Muslim is seen as a weakness and in fact further fuels their agenda. Peace to a Muslim doesn’t mean the same to you or I, rather peace in their perspective is a world submitted to allah. The word Islam itself means submission to allah muslim means one who is submitted to allah. If you look at France and Germany it is a perfect example of what not to do Rome made the same mistake and it was what led to there downfall, too many muslims at once can not be assimilated into a countries culture but rather will overwhelm and take over review Islamic history and more importantly our own Armenian history and learn from it. I end with this, at night before my wife and I go to bed I make sure to lock my doors it is not because I hate those outside my door but because I love this inside, my wife and son depend on me to make them my priority and protect them others are important but my family is most important and if I invite a guest into my home as an Armenian I pride myself on hospitality but I know full well who someone is before they enter my home. Don’t be naive sometimes the farmer feeds the hen with one hand and at the same time takes her eggs with the other hand.

  7. boghos jermag said:

    You know, 1000 years ago, the Anatolian highlands allowed Turkic refugees… wonder what happened to the native Anatolian population…

  8. Chris said:

    You can’t compare thr Armenians from the genocide to the current ban. There is a ban on those countries because they have a terrorism rate. If you feel so strongly about this why not write an article on why Armenia should let in Muslim refugees. Does that sound like a good idea to you?

  9. Lena said:

    I do believe the implementation of the Executive Order to pause immigration from the 7 countries that are known to have people who mean Americans harm, and whose governments don’t keep adequate records as to who’s who in their country, was botched. It was a mistake to detain people with Green Cards or valid visas, and they have admitted to that fact and made corrections. However, people seem to forget that the reason that order was signed was to make sure our government has adequate measures in place to prevent radical Muslims who aim at killing Americans and spreading their ideology of a Muslim Caliphate from entering the United States. People also seem to forget that the Executive Order has exceptions for persecuted minorities in these countries who don’t have the agenda to kill Americans or spread any Caliphate. Again, the implementation was botched and they are working on the corrections.
    As many have already stated, I don’t see any parallels between the Armenian refugees after the genocide and the people this Executive Order means to keep out temporarily for 90 days until they have a better way of knowing whom to allow in and whom to refuse entrance to.

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