What Happened This Year?

Garen Yegparian

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

I was puzzled and disappointed by the overall lower turnouts for our April 24th period events this year, especially compared to last year. This was across the board, at all events. The number of events was down, too. Even Lobby Day in Sacramento saw a decreased turnout.

Is it because it’s not a “big” year in the count from 1915? By that I mean a multiple of five or ten. Last year it was the 95th, this year… Conversely, this year, April 24th fell on a Sunday, so there could not have been work conflicts for those who want to attend any of our events.

Meanwhile, our foes are gearing up, becoming more sophisticated, more attuned to the American political battlefield, and getting VERY moneyed up. Think about Yalcin Ayasli (Yalchin Ayashli) and his $30 million Hittite Corp. stock donation to start the Turkish Coalition of America, probably millions more to the Turkish Cultural foundation, and most importantly, over a quarter million dollars of POLITICAL giving by him and his family just in 2010! Make no mistake about it, all that money is aimed straight at fighting our community in the U.S. and worldwide in our efforts at securing that which the Turkish government has stolen from us.

So what are we doing while the Turks are getting their act together? Not participating, that’s what! And why aren’t we? Well, it seems some nasty stuff went down almost 2000 years ago, and a day that floats the breadth of two months of the year is used to recognize/celebrate that 2000 year-old stuff. This year, that day happened to fall on April 24th. Well, as a result, everyone was busy eating dyed eggs and fish and visiting friends and family. Our church, the ARMENIAN Apostolic Church (AAC), for whatever reason, chose to inflict and impose the results of the arcane formula of when Easter is celebrated on the nation whose child it is. Disregarding the conflict, yes CONFLICT, created by the coincidence of April 24 and Easter for the first time since the date became relevant to our nation.

Why did the church do this? Simple habit? Greed? Remember, this is the biggest church attendance day which means a lotta-loot flowing into the church’s collection plates? Public relations obliviousness? Imagine if the date had been changed, say, to the old system under which we celebrated Easter much later, sometimes in May. Think of the media frenzy “Armenian church moves Easter!” the headlines would have screamed. And, immediately after, the “why” would have been answered, further generating Genocide awareness among our neighbors. This mistake is unconscionable. If it is to remain our national church, then the AAC should act the part.

All the linguistic gymnastics, at all the events, tying together Easter and April 24th, the “death and rebirth” gimmick, that were on display can’t make up for the harm done to our efforts in furtherance of our just cause. Imagine, at the Unified Young Armenians event, though hyped as having huge attendance while the opposite was true, at least one speaker expended great effort to tie Easter and April 24 together. Yet the event was topsy-turvy with the rally first and the march following, almost assuring that even the crowd that had gathered would tend to dissipate. All this because of the Easter conflict.

The gathering at the Montebello Martyrs Monument was held NOT on the 24th, for the first time in at least 15 years that I can remember. It was moved to the 23rd. This in turn caused a dual conflict of that gathering with the AYF’s “Cycle Against Denial”. The times of both events overlapped, plus, a group of bicyclists riding from Glendale to the gathering at the monument and back resulted in two cycling events on the same day, at partially overlapping times.

The only unchanged event was the AYF-organized demonstration at the Turkish consulate. MUCH credit is due the AYF for resisting pressure to change even this most politically relevant of our events.

All this happened because of a lack of foresight and proper consideration of our nation’s needs on the part of our church leadership and insufficient pressure from us, the laity, the Armenian community.

Let’s NEVER allow this to happen again!

Authors

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19 Comments

  1. Steven Shamlian said:

    Your ethnicity should not supersede your God. As an Armenian (thanks to birth) and a Christian (thanks to grace), I am surprised and offended by your comments. Perhaps instead of trying to move the date of our savior’s birth, you should move the date of your commemorations, as we did in the Boston area.

  2. Rafi Issagholian said:

    Is this a joke? I’m sorry, but abandoning our cultural and religious responsibilities does not make you more “Armenian,” Garen. And mocking – indeed, fully insulting – our faith does not make you sound more nationalistic. Easter *is* more important, as our martyred dead would have agreed, since our refusal to compromise our faith has been a major cornerstone in so much of our history. You might be willing to year apart our nearly two-millennia old customs and rites, but don’t be so shocked when you’re alone out there. Some of us know that there’s more to being Armenian than marching in front off a building.

  3. John M said:

    Good point, Mr. Yegparian. I bet if the message of restorative justice including reparations figured largest in our collective game plan, and our organizations were not kowtowing to Serj Sarkissian’s agenda, larger turnouts would ensue. Plus, U.S. congressional recognition as the one and only goal is a dead end, boring AND stale.

  4. Panos said:

    You should have more respect for our national church and religion than to say the things that you say in this article. You cannot expect that the holiest day in Christianity that has been celebrated for more than 2000 years to be moved. It would have made no difference one way or the other. The shame goes to Obama and to all who deny the Genocide. We need to gear up against the deniers and not against each other and our national institutions.

  5. AE said:

    What happened this year, and almost every year is the absolutely horrible job we do as a community in uniting and coordinating our efforts! There are so many events that it dilutes attendance and confuses our people. It seems that the one slogan that really counts, “Armenians, your only salvation is in your unity!” rings hollow year after year! I would much rather have ONE huge rally in ONE location (FEDERAL BUILDING or TURKISH CONSULATE) and have ALL of our organizations show up in the morning and one at the MONUMENT on the 24th! We continue to repeat the same mistakes our forefathers have been making for centuries and unfortunately I see no light at the end of this tunnel!

  6. Mark said:

    Garen,
    Your article is shameful and offensive. My Grandfather narrowly escaped Turkish soldiers. Many in his immediate family lost their lives. If he were alive today, to read your article, he would be saddened and ashamed that you are Armenian. As Christians, Jesus death burial and resurrection is what makes us presently victorious over the crimes of genocide perpetrated against are forefathers.

    My hope is not in a politician, or a genocide bill, or in April 24 demonstration’s. My hope is in Jesus Christ and His blood shed at Calvary.

    Let’s be very clear, God is all knowing and all powerful. Any decision that any politician makes is because God has moved them to make it. This does not mean that we should not work for the just recognition of the Armenian genocide. We should pray for justice and work as hard as we can for justice. We should give God the glory for any success that may come from our hard work.
    Mark

  7. Sam said:

    Fellow Christian commentators, how do you reconcile “God” and the evil of the Genocide?

    Had the Armenians worshipped another mythology or deity (instead of a Jewish carpenter), would the Turks spared them?

    Armenian ethnicity predates Christianity and the Genocide was directed at the national ethnicity our people… It is a shame that the so called Armenian Churches could not come to the same conclusion.

  8. Hagop said:

    Armenians have been around long before Christianity and will be around long after. Shifting the date of Easter (which has been done in the past, along with Christmas–January 6th-December 25th) is less burdensome than to deprive strength and vigor to the cause of our National Claims against the Turkish State. I sympathize with my more religious ethnic brethern, but alas we should remember that we are Armenian FIRST, Christian SECOND.

    • John said:

      Agree with you Hagop. Some of the criticism of Garen is uncalled for. What did Christianity do for us? Some people say: our church kept us Armenian. Well, I disagree with those people. We were Armenian for thousands of years before we became Christian. And we were much more powerful as a nation before we became Christian and we went downhill after we became Christians. Because our people were brainwashed by the clergy and they literally believed and practiced the teachings of the Holy Bible. e.g. “when someone slaps you on one cheek turn the other cheek” or “love your enemy…” etc. Regarding changing the dates, Easter falls on different dates every year and it is arbitrarily decided any way. But April 24 is the same every year. Well, the good thing is, we won’t have to worry about this for another 100 years or so.

  9. M.S. said:

    Very glad to see that while Asbarez.com is publishing hate speech directed to the Holiest of Holies, its readers are well alert and do not hesitate to express their dismay. This author’s baseless and meaningless attack towads the Church is absolutely unacceptable.

    • Sam said:

      What baseless and meaningless attacks are you referring to? Since when questioning bad decisions by any Church leadership is an attack?

      Let’s not forget why Dertad Takavor changed state religion the first place.

  10. ES said:

    Obviously, this author is not very smart and is a hot head, nor is Asbarez very smart for publishing such flagrantly unacceptable comments against our Church and religion. Some of you say we were Armenian first and then Christian. This is a fact, but dont forget that we have always been surrounded by Turks and Muslims and that had we not converted into Christianity and instead became Muslim, we would have most certainly been ABSORBED into the other cultures in that area, hence ending the existence of Armenians as a separate people!!!!!!!!

    • John said:

      I respectfully disagree. Kurds are moslem and Hamshen Armenians are moslem and they have not disappeared or been absorbed. The Hamshen Armenians would have certainly disappeared/killed if they had stayed Christian.

  11. Harb said:

    Garen’s trivialization and denigration of Christianity is profoundly wrong. He has every right to state his views and offer a defense. Nobody has to accept his statements. His conclusion is only right if you accept ethnicity before faith in terms of your self definition. In my own case; country-family-faith come before my ethnic lineage. If Garen reasons from the assumption that ethnicity comes first with other considerations as tertiary then he will rarely if ever agree with views of people who start from a different self conception. Is ethnicity a false God?-I think so and presumably others as well. Garen is free to worship before any alter he chooses and others are free to choose differently.

    • Hagop said:

      What does “country” mean in your equation? In an Armenian lives in Iraq does that mean Iraq comes before his family (ethnicity) and his faith (ARMENIAN Christianity)? You are being quite illogical.

  12. Norin Radd said:

    First off, Mr. Yegparian has some very valid points in what he says however, as usual, those Armenians that are die hard bible thumpers will come out of the woodwork with their short sighted staccato of accusations of “blasphemy”. It is very true that today, an important part of Armenian identity is rooted in Christianity, however, getting carried away and saying that “only faith matters” and “ethnicity does not matter” is already a can of worms that you do not want to open or sample.

    It’s sheer stupidity to say that ethnicity in today’s world matters any less than it did 100 or even 1000 years back, ethnicity still matters a whole lot. More importantly, ethnic matters (not just religious) such as days of commemoration and memorial days also matter not to mention play a significant part of our Armenian identity.

    Historically Armenians have gotten in trouble whenever they have relied on their faith far too much and strayed away from their ethnic identity. When muslim Turks were ravaging villages and slaughtering the population, die hard bible thumpers were gathering their “flock” into churches and telling them to “pray for survival” rather than arming the Armenian populace with knives, pitchforks, and other tangible weapons in order to defend themselves. When children were being burnt in church basements these same idiotic bible thumpers were goading fellow Armenians to “pray harder”, nearly 2 million deaths and almost 100 years later, Armenians are still trying to convince their “fellow Christians” of the crimes committed against them via our AG recognition campaigns with limited success.

    Please tell all of us non bible thumpers, where is this fervent “christian backbone” connecting those of our faith in supporting us Armenians in our causes? Georgia, a neighbor CHRISTIAN state of Armenia regularly cooperates with and assists in strengthening our nemesis Azeris. The US and Great Britain, two states strongly rooted in Christian ideals have yet to either recognize the AG officially or hold their ALLY Turkey accountable for the crimes against humanity it has committed. Where is their Christian support for fellow Christians that have suffered? Could it be that ethnicity and the nations these said ethnicities comprise are in fact still hugely important? The answer is a resounding YES!

    Only a fool and a complete idiot would totally cast themselves into the role of a “believer” and ignore the very realities of having an ethnic identity and the immense importance of ethnicity in today’s real politik on the present geopolitical stage. While Azeris and our other enemies are becoming more and more nationalistic and taking increasing more and more pride in their ethnic origins, going to such lengths as FABRICATING their ethnic origins in order to make their ethnicity seem more venerable/credible; uneducated, idiotic, morons within our Armenian community are making declarations of how unimportant ethnicity should be and how absolute our focus should be only on “being a good christian”.

    These same idiots will be the first to visit Armenia and reap from belonging to our Armenian communities and ethnic group, partaking in our traditions/customs/way of life, but they certainly will be the LAST to defend our homeland, our way of life, our ethnic identity, and our culture in the face of criticism and physical assault by other ethnic groups.

    Mr. Yegparian is not wrong in addressing that ethnic struggles and wrongs committed against our ethnic group are just as important as Easter day and eating your fish, coo-coo, and taboole. Unfortunately, all of you “believers” and bible thumpers are either too uneducated or lack the mental acumen or foresight to understand the importance of what he is trying to say. Lucky for the rest of us we have words for the likes of you, ESHER, DAVARNER, KOORAKNER! Class dismissed, now go play your Bingo at your local Church basement like good little shrews.

  13. Norin Radd said:

    To answer your original question Mr. Yegparian. I think the past year or two was especially demoralizing for our communities. The reasons are numerous, but the community has very obviously been under attack or been betrayed.

    First, Obama completely did a 180 and though his AG mischaracterization was not that surprising, it can be said that he perhaps has had the worst track record (compared to all past presidents) with our community in going back on every single issue he promised. Between our usual AG mischaracterization issue, the whole Mathew Bryza fiasco in how he slipped him into Azerbaijan using executive powers all the way to the foreign aid cuts to Armenia/Karabagh and unbalanced approach to aiding Azerbaijan, he has complete screwed our community royally.

    Second, our community structures are now being targeted, the kachkar incident was a glaring example.

    Third, the Mark Geragos incident and the rest of those lawyers in the manner which the AG settlements were handled was not only petty, but an utter disgrace to the memory of the victims of the AG. All of them should be tarred and feathered for being so petty not to mention greedy/money grubbing lowlifes.

    Fourth, the distinct ethnic characterization of the criminal medical fraud case in which concerted efforts were made by various papers (and the groups that control these said papers) to tag ethnic identifiers on Armenians and only Armenians in that case.

    Fifth, the attacks on the cab drivers and the under the table dealing by the city of Santa Monica City Council in trying to change “the rules of the game” in order to shut out Armenian cab companies and bring in “other groups” that want to cash in on this market that we developed.

    Last but certainly not least, the DECADES long utter lack of cooperation between various Armenian groups in trying to bring their goals and efforts into “one pot” and into one place with a common agenda that encompasses ethnic camaraderie. Groups like the ARF, UYA, Hunchaks, Dashnaks, Ramgavars, Levon Terpetrosians, Sargisyans, and all the other yans you can think of each have pulled the community in a different direction and effectively fractionalized it.

    Armenians are tired of hearing who is right and who is wrong or who is evil or who is benevolent, the petty squabbling between all of the mentioned groups has taken its toll on our people, the only thing these groups have accomplished successfully is making the community as a whole jaded and deepening the dividing lines. The writing is clearly on the wall with your own observation of a “lack of showing” at our community events. Some of these groups are still stuck in the days of their founding, the ARF being no exception to this and have become nothing more than a club for their members who only call on the community whenever bodies are needed to push forth their own group agenda or to cast votes for city council positions, the rest of the time they refuse to cooperate, evolve, or try something new.

    Until REAL and MEANINGFUL changes take place in how these groups address our ethnic problems, conflicts, and cooperate with one another on significant level, very few things will be accomplished for our people and the greater Armenian community will become more and more jaded while drawing nearer and nearer to an abysmal fate of assimilation and will cease to exist.

    As I said, the writing is on the wall, our leaders need to merely open their eyes to see it and to sharpen their tone deaf ears to hear what the people want.

  14. ArdeVast Atheian said:

    What would have happened if we were not Christians?
    This is impossible to contemplate because by the time Islam came out of the Arabian Peninsula every nation in the world had already converted to Christianity. So it was inevitable that Armenia too, would have been so. Everyone embraced Christianity because it was the only guarantor of virtue, of order, of civil society, of peace, of the work ethic and a solid deterrent to corruption.
    Islam was in every way the opposite, an anathema to Christianity. Christianity held the self as the focus of reform because it was the only sinner everybody knew of. Islam held everyone else as the enemy because they were the only ones yet not converted to Islam.
    Christianity was the religion of peace and subservience, Islam was the religion of war and subjugation. As such every Christian nation was quickly defeated and fell to Islam. Armenia could not have been the exception. So our fate was sealed the moment we had become Christians.
    Had we converted to Islam like the Persians did, the Seljuks and the Ottomans would have been converted to Islam by us. Instead of the Ottoman Empire it would have been the Armenian empire that ruled the ancient world from sea to sea. The language of the empire would have been Armenian written in the Arabic alphabet from right to left instead of the original from left to right.
    Nobody paid as heavy price for being Christian as we did because we had become isolated from the rest of the Christian world and with no common border to any other Christian nation.
    We would not have been massacred. On the contrary we would have massacred the others, the Greeks, the Europeans and the remnants of the original Christian nations of the Middle East.
    We lived through hell from 700 thru 1700 when Islam ruled the world. After 1700 Christianity emerged as the more viable religion.
    I think we should now welcome to the prospect of genetically mixing with the Muslims around us and create an Armenia that is more easily embraced by our Islamic neighbors as the world itself marches inexorably towards a ‘no religion’ future.

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