BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
No Justice, No Peace.
Isn’t that what we, Armenians, have been saying, in one way or another for over a century?
Isn’t that what we “say” every year, at least once, on one infamous date? Not to mention all the other lobbying and other advocacy we do year round…
Isn’t that what we “said” when assassinating Turkish government representatives in the 1970s and 80s?
Isn’t that what we “said” with our first major outburst of protest in 1965?
Isn’t that what we “said” when we supported the Allies during World War II?
Isn’t that what we “said” when we worked with the Kurds in the 1920s and 30s helping them organize their rebellions and supporting them?
Isn’t that what we “said” at Sardarabad, Bash Abaran, and Ghara Kilisseh in May, 1918?
Isn’t that what we “said” through our examples of self-defense during the Genocide?
And, it’s definitely what we’re saying now with our expressions of support for those who have taken to the streets of cities across the U.S. demanding the cessation of the grotesque, disgusting, and utterly unjust phenomenon of black citizens of the country being murdered by those who are supposed to be protect them, again, and again, and again, and again, and again…
Let’s also clarify one other point. The “peace” in “No Justice, No Peace” does not necessarily imply the presence or use of violent tactics to achieve justice. Conversely, it preclude the use of violence which is obvious from some of the examples above or the struggles for liberation throughout history: the American and French revolutions, early struggles for labor rights, the numerous struggles in South America inspired by Simon Bolivar, and you can no doubt name countless others. The fetishization of non-violence is something that should stop.
The right way to interpret “No Justice, No Peace” is embodied in another saying that over the course of the past century has come to represent the role of the media: “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” which was first used satirically in 1902.
With that, let’s move on to the “why” of the protests. Initially, the distraction of some of the wanton (and even organized) looting and property destruction made events were more difficult to understand. But since it has become clear that a very small number of spoiled brats abused the current crisis to act out, it’s a little easier to explain.
When someone feels that their life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness (see the U.S. Declaration of Independence) is no longer reasonably attainable, let alone secure, it’s a simple next-step to developing the notion that “if I can’t have it, then no one will” and acting on it. Such a person or people become rightfully ANGRY. Hence, the property destruction which generates fear can arise, although it would be directed against government institutions, not private ones, in a situation like the one the U.S. is in today. The private property destruction is a dead-giveaway as to the misplaced, malign, intent of the looters who were sometimes challenged and asked what the heck they were doing.
If the “anger” aspect is unsatisfactory, consider this: How did Donald Trump get elected? It is very clear that a very significant portion of his votes (I do not mean, necessarily, the majority of them) came from people who were ANGRY. They were frustrated with their stagnating (if not worsening) economic status. They were at least very annoyed by societal changes they found unacceptable. The were suspicious of “elites” (though often mis-identifying who those elites were). They were ANGRY. And, out of that anger was born their vote which foisted this horrible presidency on the country and the world.
Let’s get behind our organizations, and even some police chiefs who have joined protesters, to support the basic human right to LIFE for our black fellow citizens. Let’s not forget that it was not so long ago when “Fresno Indians” (i.e. Armenians) were also heavily discriminated against with kids beaten up on the way to school.