BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
The last few weeks have not looked kindly on Armenians for the most part- court rulings, Azeri-oil-funded propaganda misrepresenting what happened in Khojaluh two decades ago, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s idiotic and embarrassing comments about the Genocide, etc.
So, it is good that as of late night Super Tuesday (the day ten states held their primary election in this U.S. presidential election year), we are rid of the current title holder of “biggest Turkish whore in the U.S. House of Representatives”— Jean Schmidt (if only because former Speaker Dennis Hastert [of Illinois] and Dick Gephardt [of Missouri] are no longer in office). Just imagine what it takes to successfully “primary” (a member of the same party running against an incumbent) a legislator! How bad a representative, at least in the eyes of her constituents, not her Turkish masters, must she be, that she got knocked off! She used to have Tea Party support, but managed to turn even that group of often unrealistic citizens off through her shenanigans. I heard through the grapevine that she kept doing foolish things during the primary campaign. Plus, her unethical behavior —taking Turkish money through indirect avenues— and the scrutiny it got, had to hurt her— thanks to David Krikorian and the ANCA for their efforts on that front.
The Congressional good news goes on. It’s not just Schmidt we’re rid of. There are others who have opposed the Genocide resolution or other important Armenian initiatives in Congress that are entering the dustbin of Congressional has-beens. Dan Burton of Illinois is retiring (he saw he couldn’t win this time and took the “honorable”, less embarrassing, exit). Ron Paul of Texas, is also retiring while running as a quixotic Republican presidential candidate. Dan Boren of Arizona, co-chair of the Congressional Azerbaijan caucus, is retiring. Wally Herger, a former supporter of the Genocide resolution who then withdrew and kept his distance is doing the same. Connie Mack of Florida is another one. Finally, and this is mixed good-bad news, Jeff Flake, of Arizona, is not running for the House of Representatives, instead opting to run for the Senate seat. This gives us a chance to support his strongest opponent and make sure Flake’s kept out of power, period.
Moving to the other end of the building, Senators Feinstein and Brown introduced the legislation calling on the Secretary of State to press Turkey to return confiscated (polite for “stolen”) church properties to their rightful owners. You’ll recall an identical measure passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee last summer. This is not only good news in and of itself, but because it represents the newest phase of our struggle. We have, at long last, started to demand reparations, not just recognition, on a practical level.
Crossing the “pond” to France, there’s also the good news that President Nicolas Sarkozy has pledged to reintroduce the bill criminalizing genocide denial that was recently rejected by France’s (in this case conflict-of-interest-ridden) Constitutional Council. Even better news is that Sarkozy’s main opponent in the French presidential election, Francois Hollande, is on board to do the same. It seems timing-wise, it’s not possible to get the legislation in before the election takes place. So we’ll have to wait and see whether the winner delivers on his promise.
Finally, there’s a twisted bit of good news. Don’t blame yourself if it didn’t register when you read the headlines about the anti-Armenian rallies held in Turkey calling us bastards and threatening to invade Yerevan, followed by various Turkish government leaders’ comments on this matter. The hidden good news is Prime Minister Erdogan’s reference to the demonstrators as “raving racists”. Of course, this is a very clever political ploy, so let’s not let him get away with it. He’s “distancing” himself from clearly reprehensible utterances. But, it was his government that allowed the explicitly anti-Armenian actions to go off across the country. This way, he both slakes and stokes average Turks’ hatred of Armenians, while simultaneously painting himself as oh-so-enlightened, humanist, and “European”!
Be heartened by the good news, and use that energy to battle the bad and affirmatively push forward the Armenian agenda on all fronts!