BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
I should start by thanking the Turks, Shakespeare, and Samuel Johnson (the English author and lexicographer) for providing me the topic, title, and important quote (below) respectively, for this week’s piece.
I was actually in a minor quandary as to what I’d write about. But Yusuf Babanli, Member of the Board of Directors of Azerbaijani American Council and Co-founder of U.S. Azeris Network, came through for me with his piece “US Ambassadors Appointed to Represent US Interests, Not the Interests of Armenian Diaspora” responding to, or more accurate, attacking, parts of my “Off to a Bad Start” from two weeks ago.
I suspect the “esteemed” Mr. Babanli was put up to writing this piece by his AAC colleague, Javid Huseynov, its Director General, who was named in “…Bad Start”. Otherwise, how else do we explain the sudden response to my critiques of Turkey and Azerbaijan when almost none has occurred before? I suspect Huseynov Googled his name, saw my comments, and wishing to avoid the unsavory business of defending himself, got someone else to attack. All conjecture, I know, but still, typical human behavior.
On to the hit piece… Truly, it is proof of Johnson’s “The last refuge of a scoundrel is patriotism”. Babanli wraps the American flag about him (I’m tempted to write, “to cover his shame”), protesting my criticism of Obama’s recess appointments of Bryza and Riccardione as ambassadors (to Turkey and Azerbaijan, respectively) because that should be and is based on the “national interests of the U.S.” not of the “Republic of Armenia or Armenian Diaspora”. Really? What a revelation that is! Wow, thanks Yusuf, we didn’t know that! And what “national interests” are represented by these two moral sellouts? Genocide denial? Demonstrating that conflicts of interest are acceptable? That human rights are irrelevant? That persecution and murder of your own people is acceptable? That oil profiteering trumps all else? Are these the national interests of the U.S.? Not according to my elementary school and later teachers! Later in the piece, Babanli’s “patriotism” leads him to tie his arguments to my run for city council two years ago, go figure!
My observation that other Turkic peoples do not share the same hatred of Armenians as those living in Azerbaijan and Turkey leads Babanli to argue that the:
Central Asian states refrained from explicitly condemning Armenia on many issues is because they don’t have a common border with it. Otherwise, a piece of each of those states would have been claimed by Armenia. Eastern Turkey, western Azerbaijan and southern Georgia are good examples of irredentist claims by Armenian nationalists.
How’s that for ridiculous? Why does condemning Armenia require having a border with it? About the irredenta, why is it wrong to demand the return of stolen property, regardless who the thief is, Turkey through centuries of misrule, or Azerbaijan and Georgia thanks to Stalin’s divide-and-conquer rules?
Perhaps the best example of Babanli’s level of comprehension is his claim that I called Orange County a “plague of locusts”, completely missing my bit of word-play and jab at the negative, hateful, and anti-Armenian nature of much of Turkish activity in the U.S. Here’s the original sentence that I’d written: “Orange County serves as a locus (maybe I should say a plague of locusts) of Turkish activity…” (emphasis added now).
Finally, Mr. Babanli coyly pretends to not understand the context in which my article is written—the Armenian media in the U.S. So he twists my reference to “our enemies” into something nonsensical. Please, let me clarify, the enemies of Armenia and Armenians are those who blockade the country, massacre Armenians living within their borders, delay and avoid bringing to full justice the murderers of Hrant Dink, destroy precious historical treasures such as khachkars of Julfa by the hundreds, spend millions of dollars for anti-Armenian propaganda worldwide, constantly make bellicose pronouncements heralding the coming of war against the two Armenian Republics, and the list goes on. Plus, all this occurred just during the last two decades. I wonder, do Turkey and Azerbaijan match the description? That, Mr. Babanli, is who the “enemies” I refer to are!
Babanli even rises to defend two-faced, hypocritical Kobe Bryant and his blood-money deal with Turkish Airlines, much like Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended Sudan’s genocide-accused president Omar al-Bashir, claiming “It’s not possible for a Muslim to commit genocide.”
Twice, Babanli refers to the medical fraud scam that emerged a few months ago which included a number of Armenians among those hauled off to jail. Why do a bunch of crooks enter the discussion? Clearly, it’s a diversionary tactic.
All this suggests that those who are in the U.S. and engaged in anti-Armenian activity are feeling the heat. Our commentary is to true to avoid, so it must be somehow undercut. How? What better way to discredit anything than the time tested ad hominem attack. So, I became the chosen one as a target, this time. Who’s next? Also, this smear job might well have been done at the request of the State Department/Administration or foreign embassies seeking to provide it cover for the misguided appointments. Plus, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and the U.S. probably fear further Wikileaks revelations, another item I’s mentioned in my piece.
Stay tuned. No doubt more such debauched, unfounded, and farcical attacks are likely to follow.