The Armenian Youth Federation Glendale “Roupen” Chapter issued, in a statement issued on Friday, called an editorial cartoon published in the Glendale News-Press, “divisive,” as it evidently attempts to target Artsakh Street, the stretch of Maryland Avenue renamed last year following a Glendale City Council decision.
Below is the text of the AYF “Roupen” Chapter statement:
The AYF Glendale “Roupen” Chapter finds the editorial cartoon below divisive and fallacious. Armenians have been residing in the city of Glendale for several decades and have contributed a great deal to the city. Instead of implicitly attacking specific groups, we recommend highlighting them and noting the significant developments they have made for the betterment of the city.
Juxtaposing an Artsakh Street sign with the headline, “I miss the old Maryland Avenue,” implicitly targets Glendale’s ethnic Armenian community. Mentioning restaurants that have long since closed is a crude attempt at masking the xenophobic intent of the cartoon.
For those uninformed on what Artsakh is and its significance to both Armenian and American culture, it would serve them well to educate themselves first before drawing racist caricatures. Artsakh is an independent republic that has continually fought for not only its sovereignty, but its very existence. The name and history hold a significant place in the hearts of Armenian-Americans, and evoke our most cherished American values — freedom, self-determination, and independence.
As the city celebrates the one-year anniversary of the renaming of this street, and in light of the incident last week when the Armenian Council on Aging building was vandalized with messages stating “Death to Armenians” and “Leave now,” it is extremely distasteful and unacceptable that the Glendale News-Press could be this tonedeaf and contribute to the perpetuation of racism in the city. These racist undertones are already evident in some of the comments under the Facebook post of this political cartoon, as people have begun to allude that Glendale was lost to an “invasion” years ago.
Jokes and satire have their place, but every satirical piece carries a message. With this cartoon, the Glendale News-Press bolsters a message of returning Glendale to the days before the diverse population made its mark. The Newspress should be reminded that in those “long gone” days, Glendale played host to avowed white supremacists and racists, and that “in the past” is exactly where that history should stay. Such a cartoon is absolutely unacceptable for a newspaper with the stature of the Glendale News-Press (acquired by the Los Angeles Times) to publish, a newspaper that is supposed to also represent the tens of thousands of Armenian-American residents of the city.
While folks may be deprived of Tony Roma’s and Chuy’s — all to no fault of the renaming — they do not need to be deprived of culture, acceptance, and the understanding that our collective diversity is what makes us all, including the city of Glendale, great.