BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
No, this is not about living room footrests.
Nor is it about the so-called “neo-Ottomanism” of Turkey’s Foreign Minister Davutoghlu.
It is about an UNBROKEN tradition of Ottoman (possibly even earlier Turkish, but still at least terminologically stolen, er, borrowed from the Persians) origin.
Who knew that the Ottoman Military Marching Band, “Mehter Takimi”, still existed? Further, it seems its core was comprised of the janissaries (yeneecheree, and more on this later). After that bloody corps was eliminated, this traditional marching band, one of the earliest in history, almost disappeared. Its revival commenced in 1911, SURVIVED THE TRANSITION FROM OTTOMAN TO REPUBLICAN TURKEY, and since 1953 (in “celebration” of the fall of Constantinople to the Turks) has been fully reconstituted as a band of the Turkish Armed Forces. Most of this is from WikipediA.
Isn’t it interesting that the core of Kemal Ataturk’s “republic”, the armed forces, are maintaining the band of a state with which the current Turkish state doesn’t easily associate itself, for obvious genocidal reasons in all likelihood?
Even worse, the janissaries, in their day, were among the most egregious murderers of Armenians and other non-Moslems in the Ottoman Empire. You’ll remember they were an elite corps composed of the children of murdered Christians whose children were raised as extremist Moslems.
So why this issue now? Well, this latter-day representative of murderers is coming to town, for the SECOND time, on October 3. They have pulled a permit from the City of Los Angeles to march and perform along Hollywood Boulevard starting at Highland. They (35 individuals according to the permit) plan to assemble at 4:00 pm, start marching at 4:30, end at 6:15, and disband (no pun intended) at 6:30.
This is a despicable thing. It is occurring during Armenian culture month, and just before the visit to the area by Catholicos Aram. It is occurring in one of the biggest concentrations of Armenians living in the LA basin. It is “related to the Anatolian Cultures & Food Festival in Costa Mesa” according to the permit—yet another manifestation of Turkish theft of indigenous culture. Plus, as mentioned above, this would be the marching band’s second appearance in the area this year, the first having been in April at the festival when it performed. Clearly, I shamefully missed being aware of that one.
It is important, terribly so, to give these representatives of Turkey and its government an unwelcoming greeting they’ll never forget! Who remembers our success two decades ago when the Red Army Band’s performance at the Shrine Auditorium was cancelled by the organizers because of our demonstration? Something like that is what we need.
It would be even better if the permit were revoked! It a failure of our community that such a permit was issued without our awareness and input. But now, our organizations must make every effort to prevent this event from becoming a success. Otherwise, we will be in a situation comparable to early- and mid-1980s New York City. Back then, the Turks, using “Children’s Day” (a legitimate holiday in Turkey, falling on April 23)as their cover, started organizing a parade, which is now annual and draws thousands, providing that genocidal state lots of positive publicity. Let’s not allow October 3, 2011 to become the wedge that creates a similar situation in Los Angeles.
Also, the Pacifica Institute, about whom I’ve written before, and which may well be connected to Turkey’s Gulen movement, and which is involved in constituting charter schools in the U.S. to spread Turkish propaganda, is a sponsor of the food festival.
Some may wonder why we should care about a mere manifestation of Turkish culture, which is the way organizers are passing this off (based on the press releases on their website). Aside from the obvious fact that culture is often used as a political tool, I always remember Leo Sarkissian’s admonition that our policy had always been: if it’s local Turks conducting an activity, that’s one thing; if it is a state-based group from Turkey, then we respond.
Clearly, Mehter Takim meets the second criterion. Let’s get to work and not let the Turkish government achieve another propaganda coup.