By Skeptik Sinikian
Much like that crusty ‘soujoukh’ and ‘basturmah’ platter at an Armenian Banquet Hall–it’s not easy staying fresh week after week. I’m always asking my friends–readers–colleagues and anyone who will listen for suggestions or ideas for my next column. It’s harder than you think. Few people actually suggest ideas and even fewer suggest ones that would be interesting to read or write about. "Why don’t you write about how hard it is to find a nice Armenian husband/wife?" If I had a nickel for every time I heard this one–I could start my own spin-off of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." (Of course with the nickel-statement exchange rate–all prize money would have to be in Armenian Drams).
But this week I lucked out and received the following email:
"As I have promised before–my eyes and ears are open inside (and outside) the community to find material for you. I will report back soon on that front.
Recently–I read reports in the Glendale News-Press about an Armenian man killing his girlfriend and stuffing her in his car trunk (he remains a fugitive); and an Armenian son stabbing his mother in the back. I know this is all macabre stuff here–but Halloween is upon us my friend!"
I won’t say who wrote the email because then [I’d reveal my sources]–but the topic did catch my eye. Not to mention that it is the month when all things creepy–scary–macabre–and demonic become acceptable. It’s true. Try hanging a skeleton on your lawn in the middle of July and see what your neighbors would say. Trust me–you won’t get the same reaction as when you leave your Christmas lights out because you’re too lazy to bring them down. Imagine leaving a human’skeleton out or gravestones on your front lawn because you’re too lazy to clean it up. But back to the issue at hand–let me share my thoughts on the recent events in sunny and beautiful Glendale–California.
I did a little bit of research online and sure enough–there were at least three incidents of violent crimes which either happened in Glendale or are related to Glendale–which involved our compatriots. And every single one involved a man committing a crime against a woman. It was bizarre. It blew my mind because usually I don’t read the Glendale News Press. But within a month–three men had viciously killed three women. Two of the suspects called the police and turned themselves in and the last one is only a suspect but has disappeared (most likely left the country and is somewhere far far away).
Here’s the part that upsets me the most. The victim in each incident was a woman. I would like to believe that this is coincidence. But in reality it is a growing problem. Almost every day I witness a young Armenian male saying something disrespectful–lewd–or obnoxious to a female. In each of these aforementioned incidents–the relationship between man and woman was different. In the first stabbing it was husband and wife. In the case of the missing suspect it was a boyfriend and a girlfriend. And in the second stabbing (yes–SECOND stabbing–as in more than one stabbing) it was a son and the victim was his mother. Each case has its own set of circumstances and it is difficult for me to address them all as one. But it does mark a disturbing trend. Somewhere–along the way–in our infinitely "innocent" and "pure" Armenian culture–it became acceptable for some knuckle-draggers to mistreat women.
Mistreatment can come in many forms. It can result in abuse. Abuse can differ from person to person. It can be verbal. It can be physical. It can even be subtle. For instance–preventing a woman from receiving an education and entering the work force or pursuing her goals can all be construed as abuse.
I’m sure you’ve noticed it as well. The wannabe "macho" Armenian men who stand around outdoors–dressed in sweaty clothing that makes them look like they should be hanging out at the "BadaBing" instead of on a busy city street. They smoke incessantly and have nothing of substance to say other than an insult or degrading comment. They’re idea of being polite is smiling at their wife before telling her to shut up.
You think I’m kidding don’t you? Some of you have already condemned me. "Skeptik has lost it! He is so wrong!! How dare he sully our good reputation like this??"
My question to you is the following–"What good reputation?" The days of the respected Armenian fruit stand owner who puts his kids through college are dwindling away faster than President Bush’s approval ratings. This isn’t Fresno in the 60’s anymore. You’re not living in Watertown circa 1930. Still–don’t believe me? Let me tell you of another story which happened a few months ago. A friend of mine is at his insurance broker’s business on a Saturday. They’re talking shop when all of a sudden there’s thunderous pounding on the door. When they open the door a young Armenian woman rushes in and asks to call the police. Showing obvious physical signs of abuse–she claims her husband has been beating her for the last two days. She calls the police who arrive four minutes later.
Here’s what I liken all of this to. If a man falls out of a three story building and survives–he is said to be lucky. If he falls out of a three story building and survives a second time–it is said to be an amazing coincidence. If the same person falls out of another three story building a THIRD time and survives–he is said to have a very bad habit.
Abuse has become a bad habit in our community with very dire consequences. Think about this for a while–because it’s happening as you read this. It might be happening to your friends right now. You may want to ignore the signs but when is it too late? When your best friend–sister–mother–neighbor is on the front page of the Glendale News Press?
Skeptik Sinikian will pity the foo’ who raises a hand against a woman. He also urges anyone who witnesses domestic abuse to report it to the authorities through their anonymous tip lines. He can be reached at SkeptikSinikian@aol.com or www.sinikian.blogspot.com