The Armenian Assembly’s Washington DC office recently sent out an extremely deceptive Armenian Reporter editorial–in reply to an individual who had asked for AssemblyChairman Van Krikorian’s answer to the charge that he is trying to intimidate an Armenian historian. This clumsy move to propagate phony excuses for the Assembly Chairman’s actions is the latest misstep in this serious affair that affects important Armenian interests. The long-term repercussions of this controversy the Assembly Chairman has started can be detrimental to Armenian studies and efforts to counter Turkey’s denial of the Genocide.
Fundamental factual errors expose the false foundations of the Reporter’s September 15 editorial–"In the Wake of the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission." The editorial’s flagrant disregard of documented facts shows that Senior Editor Edward Boghosian should have read and written more carefully–if he wanted to defend more convincingly Chairman Krikorian’s attempt to intimidate me.
The editorial referred to my article in the September 1 issue of the Reporter–in which "Prof. Marashlian accused Krikorian of intimidation to suppress opposition to the commission by sending copies of his original letter–addressed to Prof. Marashlian–to the administrations of both colleges at which he is employed."
Apparently–something Boghosian "subsequently learned" prompted him to write his editorial. Unfortunately for him–what he "learned" led him to false conclusions. July Comes Before August
First Fallacy: The editorial’s allegation that "the reason" Krikorian sent his "original letter" to "both" my employers was because I used the stationery of one of my employers–Glendale Community College–is ludicrous. The calendar proves it.
July 25 is the date of Krikorian’s "original letter." It referred only to an interview with me published in the Glendale News Press on July 23–in which I was identified as a professor of history at GCC.
August 20–almost a month later–was when I responded. How in the world can Krikorian’s intimidation–initiated in July–be based on my response to that intimidation–written in August? Second Fallacy: Another hole in the erroneous editorial the Assembly has sent out is that the "use of official letterhead implied that the Professor had institutional backing." No–it is not reasonable to conclude that there was such an implication. Unlike Chairman Krikorian–who represents his organization–a professor does not represent his school. Therefore–there is no implication that the school backs his opinions. It is generally understood that when a faculty member uses his school’s stationery–or uses his title in an interview or in a byline of an article–it is only for purposes of identification. He is speaking only for himself. An instructor is not an administrator.
In this particular case–it is absurd to think that Glendale Community College would have an institutional position on something called a Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission.
(Incidentally–my response was on GCC stationery because Krikorian himself had involved GCC in the Armenian community’s disagreemen’s over the Commission. If he had not sent his letter to GCC–I would not have written back with GCC stationery.)
What blows the editorial even further out of the water is the fact that Krikorian also sent his letter to my second employer–California State University Northridge (CSUN)–even though the school was not even mentioned in the July 23 Glendale News Press article. By sending his letter to CSUN–even though the News Press did not identify me as an instructor at CSUN–even though I have never written an article using CSUN in a byline–and even though I have never used CSUN stationery–the Assembly’s Chairman exposed the real reason behind his action: Intimidation.
Third Fallacy: The editorial’s allegation that my response to Krikorian contained "scurrilous accusations" simply is not true. The dictionary confirms it.
And the claim that my article contained "personal attacks" simply shows that Boghosian is unable to counter the specifics of my criticism of Krikorian’s action. A common trick some people use to avoid the heart of an issue–when they cannot come up with effective counter-argumen’s to valid criticisms of a person’s actions–is to denigrate the criticisms by branding them "personal attacks."
Boghosian has done himself and his readers a major disservice by trying to defend Krikorian’s conduct. One can only wonder why Boghosian stuck his neck out–when he is not the man who committed the original offense. If he based his editorial on inaccurate information provided by the Assembly Chairman–then he himself may be a victim of the Chairman’s refusal to acknowledge responsibility for his egregious transgression.
The editor of Nor Gyank also stuck his neck out–by reprinting the Reporter’s editorial–in the September 27 issue. It is not clear why he reprinted it–but by doing so–he implicated his paper in the propagation of deception to defend the indefensible. Potentially Detrimental to Armenian Interests
Here is the big picture:
1. The indisputable intent of the Assembly Chairman’s actions initiated on July 25 was to intimidate–and in the process to discredit–an Armenian history professor in the eyes of administrators of two American institutions that offer Armenian studies courses. What the Assembly Chairman is doing is potentially detrimental to Armenian studies.
2. Since the historian happens to be one of the few Armenian scholars who is active in lecturing on the Genocide and countering Turkey’s denial–the Assembly Chairman’s actions are potentially detrimental for the cause of fighting the denial–a cause to which the Assembly itself is committed. The Assembly Chairman’s actions are especially disturbing since they contradict productive work done by the Assembly and its subsidiary organization–the Armenian National Institute (ANI).
3. The chairman of a major Armenian organization resorting to such an ignominious action against a fellow Armenian cannot look good in the eyes of college administrators. What Krikorian has been doing is an embarrassment for the Assembly and–by extension–for the Armenian community.
The Reputation and Credibility of the Armenian Assembly
I have sympathy for members of the Assembly who have a sense of integrity and a healthy respect for the principle of academic freedom–they–too–are victims of this embarrassing controversy caused by their Chairman’s grave lapse of judgment. And now–it should be doubly troubling for Assembly members that their Public Affairs Director has sent out the Reporter’s deceptive editorial. Since this was an Assembly Director’s reply to a specific inquiry–reasonable people may conclude that the Assembly is officially endorsing the inaccuracies and absurdities in the deceptive editorial and–therefore–the actions of the Assembly Chairman the editorial tries to justify. An explanation is needed from the Trustees or Board of Directors. In the September 19 issue of The Armenian Observer–Board member Charles Barsam wrote that the "Assembly is member driven–with all of its activities carefully scrutinized and subjected to member comment."
I have three questions: Are Krikorian’s activities directed against me "member driven?" How many of the 19 members of the Board have "carefully scrutinized" what their Chairman has written and the actions that he and the Assembly office have been taking–actions that are perpetuating this controversy? How many will have the courage and sense of honor to assert their democratic rights to urge the Board to take a formal stance in this matter?
This issue involves the reputation and credibility of the Armenian Assembly–as well as the defense of the Genocide-related interests of Armenia and the Armenian-American community. It remains to be seen whether conscientious members of the Board will do what they know is needed to correct this far-reaching problem their Chairman has created.