BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN
Despite Armenian-Americans’ persistent admonishment of Pres. Obama to refrain from substituting “Meds Yeghern” (Great Calamity) for the Armenian Genocide in his annual April 24 statement, he has continued to do so for three years in a row.
Apparently, henchmen of the denialist Turkish regime and their American cohorts have been able to compel the President of the United States to avoid any reference to the “genocide” or “tseghasbanoutyoun” — its Armenian equivalent. Otherwise, why would the President of the United States address the American public in a foreign language known only to a few? Armenian substitute words such as “Meds Yeghern” are simply meant to fool some gullible Armenian-Americans. This is a cheap trick that is beneath the dignity of the Presidency!
Over the past three years, rather than mending his ways and discontinuing the use of “Meds Yeghern,” Pres. Obama has done the exact opposite. Incredibly, he is using that term in this year’s April 24 statement not once, not twice, but three times! The President shamefully continues the silly and offensive word games of his predecessors — whom he had severely criticized — reducing genocide to “horrific events,” “atrocities,” “massacres,” and “devastating events.”
Earlier this month, Pres. Obama declared his candidacy for reelection and asked Americans to reelect him for another four more years. In my view, anyone who so blatantly breaks his promises on both Armenian and non-Armenian issues, including acknowledgment of the genocide, does not deserve to be reelected. It is hard to imagine that any self-respecting Armenian would vote for him again.
To show how offended they are by Pres. Obama’s broken promises, over a thousand Armenian-Americans held a spirited protest at Sony Studios in Culver City, at the site of his major fundraiser on the eve of April 24. Their anguished message was carried far and wide by the assembled local, national and international media. Just about every news outlet highlighted the protesters’ mistrust of Pres. Obama, casting a shadow on the celebratory atmosphere of the hiss reelection campaign.
Helping to amplify the protesters’ message was vocalist Serj Tankian of the System of a Down whose presence and fiery remarks electrified the crowd, attracting considerable media attention.
Another major boost for the demonstration came from TV celebrity Kim Kardashian who sent a twitter message to her 7.2 million fans around the world, along with a link to her blog: “Today, thousands of Armenians will come together in Los Angeles to protest against the denial of the genocide and urge the United States government to recognize the Armenian Genocide. I hope that I can bring some attention to this today.”
During my recent appearances on ABC-TV and FOX-TV, I explained that the purpose of the protest was not to beg Pres. Obama to use the word genocide. It was rather to let him and other politicians know that Armenian-Americans would no longer remain silent when an elected official makes lavish campaign promises to get their votes and money, only to ignore them after the election. These officials should be made to pay a political price for their hypocrisy. To make democracy work, citizens should ensure that dishonest politicians are not reelected. It is bad enough to be fooled once; but allowing ourselves to be fooled twice is truly unforgivable!
Using the Culver City rally as a precedent, Armenian-Americans throughout the United States should hold protests at every campaign appearance of Pres. Obama in the next 18 months!
Furthermore, Armenians do not really need Pres. Obama to repeat what Pres. Reagan stated 30 years ago by referring to the Armenian Genocide in his Presidential Proclamation of April 22, 1981. By breaking his campaign pledge, Pres. Obama compromises his moral and political standing as the leader of the free world!
Let us not forget two other major culprits in this deplorable affair! Where is Vice President Joe Biden hiding these days? Does he recall that he delivered dozens of strongly-worded speeches on the Armenian Genocide during his long years in the Senate and as presidential candidate? What about Hillary Clinton? How quickly did she transform herself from a champion of genocide recognition as Senator and presidential candidate, into a Secretary of State who hides from the media while placing a “personal” wreath at the Genocide Monument in Yerevan, and lobbies Congressmen to vote against a genocide resolution?
The 2012 elections present an ideal opportunity to settle scores with all those who have betrayed the trust of the Armenian-American community.