In an article published on Monday on the Washington Post Web site, entitled “Armenian ‘orphan rug’ is in White House storage, as unseen as genocide is neglected,” correspondent Philip Kennicott reveals the White House’s refusal to loan a rug that was woven by orphans of the Armenian Genocide to be displayed at a book launch for Hagop Martin Deranian’s book, “President Calvin Coolidge and the Armenian Orphan Rug,” scheduled for December 16 at the Smithsonian.
The rug was woven by Armenian children in the Ghazir orphanage in Lebanon, where many children surviving the Armenian Genocide wound up. Dr. John H. Finley, Vice-Chairman of the Near East Relief Executive Committee, presented the rug to the White House and to President Calvin Coolidge who said: “The rug has a place of honor in the White House, where it will be a daily symbol of good-will on earth.”
So, it came as a surprise to the Arlington, Mass.-based Armenian Cultural Foundation, the organizers of the event, that the White House refused to loan the rug for the Dec. 16 event. According to Kennicott’s article, “Paul Michael Taylor, director of the institution’s Asian cultural history program, had no explanation for the White House’s refusal to allow the rug to be seen.
Asbarez contacted the White House via email and received the following quote attributed to Laura Magnuson, White House National Security Staff Assistant Press Secretary: “The Ghazir rug is a reminder of the close relationship between the peoples of Armenia and the United States. We regret that it is not possible to loan it out at this time.”
A statement with the same exact wording was released by the White House last week and included in Kennicott’s article.
“Instead of stonewalling, the White House should simply come clean,” said Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “It’s time for the White House to open up about Turkey’s role, and lay out all the facts about the inexcusable political directive to cancel the Smithsonian’s exhibit of the Armenian Orphan Rug – a historic, Armenian Genocide-era work of art that speaks powerfully to the common values and shared experiences of the American and Armenian peoples.”