BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
It’s been almost three years since I’ve written one of these whine-fests, though this time, the vexations are a bit more serious than mere peeves.
Caucasus. Not only is this term often misspelled as “Caucases” by many in our community (and even a well-known policy publication only a day before I wrote these words), but it is also misapplied geographically. First, I would ask that everyone be wary of making this mistake, since the Caucasus Mountains are indeed close to our homeland, and misspelling their name is embarrassing. That is the perfect Segway into the irritant aspect of this. Often, Armenia (at least its eastern portion) is “placed” in the region referred to as the “Caucasus” – it EMPHATICALLY is not! Armenia is located in what has been referred to, for at least two millennia, as “the Armenian highlands” or “the Armenian plateau” – neither the Caucasus nor Anatolia. This is a leftover from Russian expansionist and imperial days when what are today named Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia were collectively called “Trans-Caucasia.” It is a Russo-centric term based on the fact that Armenia lies south of the Caucasus Mountains, and for an empire based north of those mountains, it was “trans” – across – them. The “trans” has largely disappeared from usage, but the erroneous application to Armenia persists. Let’s end it.
While in in Eastern Armenia, and specifically today’s Republic, let’s address the destructive fish farming that has taken hold there. Recently, I read that some of the fish farmers are complaining about being driven out of business by the high cost of fish food. I can’t say that I am saddened by this because of the damage the industry has been causing. Aquifers (underground “rivers” or “lakes” that store water) which accumulate their stores of H2O in geological time are being depleted at dizzying rates to fill large holes, dug in the Araratian plain to raise fish in, can be filled with water so that oligarchs such as Prime Minister Hovig Abrahamian can get even richer. This lowers the water table and traditional farmers and villagers end up with less or no water unless they undertake greater expense to drill ever deeper wells. If (U.S.) farmed salmon is an indicator, any fish grown in those artificially created ponds are probably unhealthy. In case you were not aware, farmed salmon is fed food with orange die in it so the fish’s flesh takes on the hue of normal salmon! This is necessary because they are fenced in and do not have the room to swim around and develop proper muscle tone, leading to the naturally orange color. Stop this abusive, destructive practice!
And, with another interesting segway, let me note that I read a few months ago about desert plants appearing in the Republic of Armenia. If this isn’t an indicator of climate change/global warming, I don’t know what is! I’m on some right-wing mailing lists and to this day, these people are busily misleading their readers about the reality, and seriousness, of the threat posed by climate change to human civilization as we know it. They are in such deep denial that they are now even accusing the 17 state Attorneys General of impinging on Exxon’s “free speech” rights. The free speech they are referring to is more commonly known as lying. Exxon’s duplicity came to light when researchers looked at a trove s corporate records that were given to Columbia University. In those documents was data that Exxon had been compiling before it realized that oil and fossil fuels were likely impacting the climate and chose to embark on a campaign of denial and obfuscation. Basically, using the same methods as the Turkish government and tobacco industry have used in their campaigns of deception. Please, get over your foolishness and let’s work together to minimize the impending damage.
Finally, while we’re on the topic of right wingers, it’s worth noting that they seem to be trying to appropriate the language of those who fight hate. One of the issues where this technique is being used is the unwarranted killings of black and brown citizens by police and the more recent reaction of the randomized killing of police officers in revenge. They claim that those who criticize the police “hate” the police or hate whites. While I have no doubt that some, a very few, fit that description, it is by far NOT representative of the overwhelming number of good people of any color skin who see the murder of innocents by police and are repulsed, saddened, and incensed by it. Add to this the ludicrous contention that when President Obama addresses this problem, he is “dividing” American society. Instead of admitting there’s a problem of utterly innocent people of color being killed too frequently by police officers, the political right trots out statistics that, proportionally, blacks are not killed by police at higher rates than whites. That’s not the question. The question is what proportion of whites killed by police are utterly innocent. And to convey exactly the attitudinal problem that must be addressed among police, please read about the relatively under-reported case of Delrawn Small, shot by an off-duty police officer, in two news items from the “NY Post.” Notice the tone and content of the first piece relative to the second one which has a damning video. Cease and desist with the defense of police misbehavior and let’s simply get on with the job of better training our men and women in blue.