Three Apples: Short-Circuiting Justice

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Once there was and there was not …

“Go back where you came from,” said the elderly man entering the auditorium to see the Red Army Choir perform. It was 1989, and I was on assignment for Horizon Armenian TV, reporting on why Armenians were protesting the performance.

The USSR was turning away from a command economy and introducing economic and political reforms through glasnost and perestroika. Taking their cues from Moscow, Armenians in the centuries-old Armenian region of Nagorno-Karapakh voted for autonomy.

Stalin had unjustly carved Karapakh out of Armenia and put it under the rule of Turkic republic of Azerbaijan. Remapping the USSR was Stalin’s way to control its population. When Armenians exercised their new democratic rights, Azeris targeted Armenians to hold on to real estate.

Turks had a dream of one Turkic state from Central Asia to the Baltics, but Christian Armenians had been in the way during the Ottoman Era. A hundred years later, Soviet Armenians were in the way once again. Violence against Armenians erupted, but the Red Army was not protecting its citizens. Instead, it was on a PR tour.

Armenians in the US were livid.

For decades, the US had failed time and time again to recognize what had happened to my people in ancient Armenia as a systematic mass-killing, a Genocide. When this Genocide was continuing in 1989, there was not a blurb about it on the evening news.

Flash forward another two decades, and Genocide resolutions have failed time and again. The public remains uneducated, and last Thursday two Southern California appellate judges ruled that beneficiaries of insured-Armenians killed during the Genocide could not pursue their claims.

Why? The Court said since the US had not acknowledged the Genocide, pursuing these claims would “interfere with the national government’s conduct of foreign relations.” And why haven’t these resolutions passed? Because a foreign government, Turkey, spends millions of dollars annually lobbying against Genocide recognition.

Turkey bullies the State Department saying it will not be an emissary of the US in the Middle East if the US recognizes the Armenian Genocide. Even though Turkey gets its way, it still doesn’t come through when the US needs it most. Witness when Turkey would not allow the US to open another front from Turkey to take down Saddam Hussein.

Where are the independent thinking citizen-lawmakers of our democracy? Where is their sense of justice and fairness? Perhaps their loyalties are to those who make contributions to their campaigns to ensure they vote against these resolutions.

Turkish American groups donate huge amounts to congressmen who don’t even have Turkish-Americans in their districts. Lawmakers take the contributions and vote against the recognition of historic facts.

Then you have a district court denying the Genocide based on the fact that Genocide resolutions haven’t passed. And this is logical? Is this democracy? Is this why a 21-year-old American-Armenian is told to go back where he came from? Where would he go back to?

Our grandparents’ villages were razed a hundred years ago. Our churches and graveyards were either destroyed or continue to be destroyed.  Our poets and doctors were killed. Our musicians were sent to insane asylums. There is no ‘there’ to go back to.

Why didn’t this elderly man know that out of this Genocide came the American-Armenians who helped make our country what it is?  

My people fought our nation’s wars, labored in its factories and farmlands. They built dams to hold back rivers. They designed air traffic control systems. They invented his automated bank machine and the most critical parts of the automobile he drives. They created the technology that scans his body to cure his illnesses. They gave him Cher, Vegas mega-resorts, cuisine, fashion, films, and journalism.

Why didn’t this man know that everything and everyone is connected? Like the Internet. The elderly gentleman. Failed Genocide resolutions. Genocidal Janjaweed in Sudan and Chad. Chaderjian. Me. You.

And three apples fell from heaven: one for the storyteller, one for him who made him tell it, and one for you the reader.

p.s. and Kim Kardashian.

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11 Comments

  1. Arman said:

    A moving synopsis by a great and talented journalist. Chaderjian is a real embodiment of the Armenian word shnork.

  2. loosineh said:

    Why didn’t this man know that everything and everyone is connected? the best point one could make!

  3. Dr. B said:

    Well written, but let’s try and not include the name “Kim Kardashian” in any article that deals with issues as serious as Genocide recognition. First and foremost, let it be clear that she is 1/2 Armenian, furthermore, I really don’t believe those that perished in the Genocide would want someone of her degenerate moral stature being in any shape or form associated with the Armenian culture, Armenian people, or the pains of the memory of the Armenian Genocide.

    Do me and the rest of Hyes across the globe a favor and do not associate our culture with her. Having Kim Kardashian in association with us as Armenians in any shape or form is nothing to be proud of, she is a disgrace, period. My grandmother did not pass on at the end of a bayonet so the memory of her sacrifice can be represented by a morally bankrupt petty porn princess starving for attention.

    Have a little more decency and tact next time in your articles. You want to associate Armenians with someone, associate them with men like Dr. Varazdat Kazanjian (first professor of Plastic Surgery at Harvard Medical School) or Dr. Raymond Damadian (Founder of Magnetic Resonance Imaging), thank you.

  4. Boghos Kupelian said:

    Bravo Paul,
    With a few words you have said so much….
    The worst kind of people to deal with are those who pretend to be ignorant of their bloody past…
    hasguexoghin hazar parev…
    Boghos

  5. Tadevos said:

    Paul, I have to hand it to you-this was a remarkable article. I truly enjoyed it from the beginning until the end. To be honest, this is the first time that I read one of your articles and I am very impressed. I would like to read more of your articles, if you can tell me where to find them. I will wait for your reply. Once again, great job!

  6. Katia K said:

    Two things have always been consistant with us Armenians:

    1. We come up with great technology and advancements for OTHER nations. We are not cunning enough to keep those inventions close to our vests and launch them from our homeland so that our homeland reaps the economic benefits. And once we create these technologies, we fail to promote them as Armenian inventions so that at least our nation gets some kind of attention and acknowledgement out of it. We should invite (even pay) Kim Kardashian to some Armenian events like the Genocide commemoration at Montebello. That’s how you utilize your assets to get attention.
    2. We are like a genius nation with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). We are smart individually but cannot FOCUS COLLECTIVELY, therefore we never had effective, strong leadership that kept its flocks together and gave them a solid blueprint of what is expected of them as Armenians, and exactly what road, what goal, what vision we need to follow together. Our creativity has always been up for grabs by our enemies, because we never had a strong leadership that gave it value, protected it and made it exclusive to us. (Most everything in Turkey was created by Armenians)

    Why do other nations take advantage of us?…. Because we are like a peacock, beautiful and without a vigilant strong owner. Why don’t other nations take us seriously?… Because we ar not strong. Not strong militarily, not strong economically and not strong politically. To be strong, a people has to be UNITED WITH NATIONAL PRIDE, RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS HOMELAND AND IDEALOGY OF VISION.
    Unfortunately, we have never been good at showing off each other’s accomplishments; we tend to compete with each other instead of competing with others, we have so far not succeeded in promoting our assets (in media, movies, publications), and we look up to everything “foreign” which makes us gullible to other nations’ promises that constantly succeed in dividing us.

    WHEN ARE WE GOING TO LEARN?
    Let’s start now: Paul Chaderjian, you are a phenomenal asset to our community!

  7. satenik said:

    Don’t forget to mention Lord Darzi ( Dr. Ara Darzi). He is so highly respected in Britain and is a source of honour to us all.

  8. al said:

    Bravo Mr. Chaderjian! Your analysis and journalistic talents are vast and I wish to hear and read more from you. I am not sure if you have your own BLOG or Twitter commentary, but if you do, I would love to follow your writings.

    My own thoughts are that leaders always come from the people. Simply said, as we elevate our own national standards of education and discourse and begin to transform our code of ethics we will produce better leaders. Just throwing rocks at our current leaders does not add anything to the discourse. I do believe that writers such as Mr. Chaderjian, with an extraordinary communication skills must be encouraged to continue and increase the frequency of their reporting and commentaries.

    Finally with regards to Armenia’s and Armenians’ accomplishments, my opinion is that Armenia and Armenians has NEVER had a better situation than RIGHT NOW! We have a vibrant and intelligent youth in the homeland and in the diaspora that are ready to listen to ideas, plans and projects. So lets not throw the stones, lets use them to build our future!

    Keep writing Mr. Chaderjian and Thank You!

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