Time Bomb Alright

By Garen Yegparian

Unbelievable! Fifteen days as of this writing–and not a peep out of us! NBC’s Dateline runs roughshod over Hai Tahd and one of our activists–and no one says or does anything.

On Tuesday–June 14–NBC Dateline ran the piece–"Time Bomb: Investigation into Storage Locker Full of Explosives in Bedford–Ohio" about Mourad Topalian and the investigation leading to his arrest.

The story presentation is pedantic–moralistic–and worst of all–sensationalist. "Behave yourself or the government will get you–some day–somewhere." This is starkly apparent in the interview the ATF [Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol–Tobacco–Firearms and Explosives] agent who worked the case.

It is great publicity for a bureau that had caused the bloodbath in Waco when dealing with the Branch Davidians–the armed sect. This matter even comes up in the discussion.

The whole story is full of inappropriate comparisons to the mafia and al-Qaeda. The agent is portrayed as a shining example of American diligence–and an exemplary law enforcement officer who always gets his man. Phooey!

Meanwhile–Mourad and implicit unnamed ‘others’ are portrayed as evil cohorts–lurking in the wings–waiting to strike innocent bystanders. There’s even mention of what Mourad WAS NOT convicted of. Double Phooey!

The Genocide gets passing mention in the context of our ‘hero’ relating that all of his Armenian sources (better known as rats–finks–and traitors) cited it as their motivation for involvement in pursuing Armenian rights and redressing of [national] grievances. A few background sentences even present the Genocide as an "ethnic conflict" erupting from the "dispute between Armenia’s and Turks." Triple Phooey!

Armenia’s are presented as being shady–dangerous–even criminal. Our cause gets no just mention. Who gains from this? Dateline. NBC. ATF. Turkey.

Did anyone ask how Dateline was turned on to this story–eight years after the whole matter began–four years after the case concluded–and a year after Mourad’s release from prison? Who gave it to them? The ATF? I think it was probably some Turkish agent–a lobbyist–a member of Turkey’s diplomatic corps–or even some US-dwelling Turk still suffering the delusions imposed by his ancestral government’s pseudo-history.

What do I expect?

I expect that all hell would’ve broken loose over this one. It’s worse than Armenia being put on the list of terrorist-spawning countries by the Bush regime in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq as a sop to the Turkish government. Why? Because it is far more insidious. For the most part–only Armenia’s knew of Armenia’s placement on that list.

Those with insufficient historical awareness who watched this piece of trash (i.e. 99.99% of the viewers)–are left with impressions that are nothing short of horrible. This is a building block of public opinion–in the court where our battle with Turkey is currently being waged.

While I despise doing this–a comparison with the Jewish community’s aggressive public relations approach is in order–for a change. I’ll cite a recent–almost identical time frame–case. In 1999–Jewish activist Irv Rubin sued the City of Burbank–where I reside–for allowing sectarian prayer (i.e. prayer that is overtly Christian or overtly any other faith) as the opening invocation at its city council meetings. He won the case in September 2002–but couldn’t enjoy the fruits of his efforts since he committed suicide two months later while in custody awaiting trail for conspiracy to bomb a mosque and the offices of Cong. Darrell Issa (who’s of Lebanese descent).

You see–Irv Rubin was the National Chairman of the Jewish Defense League. The JDL is noted for its violent–even lethal–activities. Yet after the news subsided–no one dredged up his story and vilified the whole Jewish community through it. Anyone considering such a project would likely be quickly dissuaded from wasting their time. As it was–a hue-and-cry was raised by Rubin’s supporters who claimed he might have been murdered–that it really wasn’t suicide. All this plays in the court of public opinion and minimizes damage to the Jewish image.

It’s incumbent on us to make NBC know such activity is utterly unacceptable and contemptible. We reacted when Armenia’s were portrayed as vicious killers in some TV police show–yet we’re silent when it comes to reality. Moreover–whatever Mourad may have done–what he’s gone through–and your personal opinion and position about these–it was for our struggle. It’s incumbent on us to stand up for our cause on all fronts–especially such public ones. Let’s show NBC & Dateline a time bomb they have triggered in the Armenian community. More importantly–let’s feed news show leads about the dirty doings of various Turks and create a subtle linkage to Turkey–to further tarnish the image they so dearly want to polish.

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