Latest:

Armenian-American Activists Speak Out on Ferguson

‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.’

–Martin Luther King, Jr., in Letter from a Birmingham Jail, April 1963

 

“When people ask me why I care so much, I respond, how could I not care?” Kohar Avakian, a student activist at Dartmouth College, told the Armenian Weekly. “Being an Armenian, Black, and Native American woman, this decision directly speaks to my existence. Michael Brown is representative of the Native American women raped by non-Natives who never receive punishment simply because the tribe lacks jurisdiction off the reservation. Michael Brown is representative of the black kids who never have the opportunity to go to college because they haven’t had access to a quality education. Michael Brown is representative of the descendants of the Armenian Genocide who will never see justice in their lives because this country so values its relationship with our oppressors—the Turks. The no indictment decision perpetuates injustice because it fails to combat the status quo. It justifies the killing of oppressed peoples.”

Nancy Kricorian (R) at the Eric Garner 'I Can't Breath' protest at Foley Square  on Dec. 4

Nancy Kricorian (R) at the Eric Garner ‘I Can’t Breath’ protest at Foley Square
on Dec. 4 (photo by Jodie Evans)

Avakian expresses sentiments shared around the country—justice continues to fail, racism is alive, and the heavily militarized police are a threat, not a comfort. In short, the justice system continuously abuses the already marginalized in society while protecting the robber barons of the country. Justice and accountability are absent.

Three recent victims of police violence—all unarmed black males—drove this message home. Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, after a confrontation between the two in August. The 12-member grand jury opted not to indict Wilson.

As protests continued across the country, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by Cleveland police officer Timothy A. Loehmann at a park on Nov. 22, shot down seconds after the police cruiser pulled up next to him. His crime: carrying a toy gun.

Then there is the case of Eric Garner, 46, who was killed when New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo placed him in an illegal chokehold in July. “I can’t breathe,” repeated Garner, to no avail. The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide, while the grand jury decided not to indict Pantaleo, who reportedly had two pending lawsuits against him for racially motivated behavior. Garner, a father of six, was unarmed and non-threatening. His crime: allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes.

“Recent shootings of African Americans by police in Ferguson, Cleveland, New York, and elsewhere come as no surprise,” said David Barsamian, founder and host of the Colorado-based Alternative Radio. “They are part of a pattern of violence. Despite the material success of Oprah, Michael Jordan, and Beyonce, racism remains deeply entrenched in the U.S. In fact, with recent voting restrictions there are signs that it is coming back with greater force.”

Economic conditions and the lack of access to equal opportunities are symptoms of racism embedded in the fabric of the country. “Blacks are often the last to be hired and first to be fired. There are high rates of unemployment, underemployment, and poverty plaguing African-American communities,” said Barsamian, adding, “There’s an old saying: If you’re white, you’re all right; if you’re brown, stick around; if you’re black, get back. Justice is supposed to be colorblind. Blacks know better.”

 

In the eyes of the law: from Ferguson to Istanbul

 

A poster features a portrait of Garner, along with his last words, 'I can't breathe.'

A poster features a portrait of Garner, along with his last words, ‘I can’t breathe.’

Cases like Brown’s, Rice’s, and Garner’s have jolted the country out of a stupor, mostly thanks to noisy activists and protesters from Ferguson to New York City, from Los Angeles to Boston, all the way up to Anchorage, Alaska. Simple truths like, “Black Lives Matter,” along with Garner’s last words, “I Can’t Breathe,” have been turned into rallying cries. In different cities, protesters from all walks of life raised their hands chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot!”

Activist Melissa Bilal joined the crowds in New York. “The murder of Brown and Garner are not the only cases where unarmed black men were killed by police, but they became emblematic of police mistreatment against black and immigrant communities,” she said. “I share the anger against racism and police violence in the U.S., in Turkey, and elsewhere. I feel rage when I see that everywhere in the world people who express their rightful anger are marginalized and stigmatized as ‘criminals.’ Racialized people, impoverished people, people who are target to violence because of their anti-establishment politics, people who are target to violence because of their sexuality. … We know that the ‘white’ public sphere both in the U.S., in Turkey, and elsewhere is not used to hearing the voices of those whose lives do not matter,” Bilal told the Weekly.

Bilal says that growing up in Turkey as an Armenian brought her closer to the African-American struggle for justice in the U.S. While studying sociology at an Istanbul university, she found herself immersed in black feminist literature, allowing her to make sense of her own experience and history of injustice. Her heroines were—and still are—the likes of bell hooks, Patricia Hill Collins, Angela Davis, and Audre Lorde. Bilal, currently a Mellon postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at Columbia University, has gravitated towards the works of these authors, while also developing a keen interest in Native American history, where she has found strength and the words to express “criticism to the new corporate language shaped around ‘Turkish-Armenian reconciliation.’”

And so, when the protests broke out in New York, Bilal was there. “The motto ‘no justice; no peace’ resonates powerfully in me because as an Armenian from Turkey who has been engaged with Kurdish women’s struggle for justice and peace, I know that peace is a big lie if there is no justice,” she told the Weekly.

“I am aware that I am not black, not native, not a poor, undocumented immigrant. I am well aware of my relatively privileged position in this country. That’s why I can never claim that I understand what Mike Brown’s mother is going through. I am not white, either. Both in terms of history and in terms of politics, I denounce being white. What I can do best is to support, be in solidarity, and spread the voices of the black communities against racism. This is the least I can do.”

The grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Wilson reminded Bilal of the sham trial in the case of murdered Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. “I was watching the ‘Democracy Now!’ coverage where I heard black protestors saying, ‘Black lives don’t matter.’ Yes, no matter how much we say, ‘Black lives matter,’ they don’t. During the protests, on social media, a quote was being circulated: ‘A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect.’ This is so true for Armenians in Turkey. It was more horribly proven by the assassination of Hrant Dink and the whole murder trial process,” she said.

“My engagement with these protests is nothing special, it is just ordinary. It is what every person should be doing if she or he is concerned with the targeting of African-American and Hispanic youth from families impoverished by the racialized economic system in this country. Targeting a generation means killing a people,” said Bilal.

For Avakian, the Brown case spoke to her directly, and she believes Armenians have a duty to care. “We should join all oppressed peoples in solidarity to demand real change,” she said, and remembered the words of Desmond Tutu: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

 

Racism in America

 

‘The decision not to indict Officer Wilson happened for the same reason that there are more black men in prison today than there were in 1850. It connects to the fact that American schools are more racially segregated today than they were in the 1950’s. It relates to the continued use of a racial slur for the name of an American football team. This country functions on injustice today because injustice and inequality lie at the core of its foundation. The example of Michael Brown speaks directly to this injustice.’

Racism in America has become a hot button topic in the media. Previously ignored statistics and reports that paint a starkly disturbing reality about being a black person in America have come to the fore.

Protesters in Boston on Dec. 4 (photo by Aaron Spagnolo)

Protesters in Boston on Dec. 4 (photo by Aaron Spagnolo)

According to the 2009 Bureau of Justice statistics, the incarceration rate for black males is six times higher than white males. African Americans constitute almost 1 million of the 2.3 million currently incarcerated in America (which happens to represent 25 percent of the world prison population), reports the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). And according to ProPublica, young black men are 21 times as likely to get killed by police as their white counterparts.

These are glaring facts that are observable with or without a footnoted report. They are simply realities for some; they lie in the bodies of Brown, Rice, and Garner. They thrive in the ugly truth that white-collar crooks that rob the American people of billions of dollars walk free, while a black man suspected of selling loose cigarettes is strangled by a cop.

“The decision not to indict Officer Wilson happened for the same reason that there are more black men in prison today than there were in 1850. It connects to the fact that American schools are more racially segregated today than they were in the 1950’s. It relates to the continued use of a racial slur for the name of an American football team. This country functions on injustice today because injustice and inequality lie at the core of its foundation. The example of Michael Brown speaks directly to this injustice,” Avakian told the Weekly.

When a friend asked Avakian how the no-indictment decision made her feel, “helpless, indignant, confused, and insignificant came to mind,” she said. The decision was “disappointing” but not surprising, she added. “We’ve seen this before, and not just in obvious examples like the shootings of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Tanesha Anderson, Tamir Rice, Vincent Chin, etc. Wilson killed a black teenager, who did not receive a trial. Not even a trial. This tells black and brown peoples that they are not valued, protected, or important in this country. Michael Brown is representative of all of the oppressed—the displaced, transplanted, forgotten, abused—peoples who must live with a system that relies on injustice. This system values the voice of a very specific group, yet forgets all others whether it be because of the color of their skin, their socio-economic background, gender, sexuality, etc.”

 

Police violence and the militarization of police departments

 

Activists say that racism isn’t the only issue at play. The heavy militarization of local police departments, and how police have responded to protests, has spurred a parallel discussion on the development of worrisome policing trends—noticeable especially during the Occupy movement in 2011.

“What Ferguson should make clear for all is that our police departments have become highly militarized and thus more lethal than ever. I first noticed this in Denver in 2008 during the Democratic Convention. The cops looked like Navy Seals in their armored personal carriers,” said Barsamian.

Nancy Kricorian, who has been on the staff of CODEPINK Women for Peace since 2003, has also observed this trend. Her organization launched a campaign earlier this year called Communities Organizing to Demilitarize Enforcement (C.O.D.E.), which links U.S.-funded wars and occupations abroad with struggles on the domestic front.

When Kricorian and Bilal arrived at New York’s Foley Square on Dec. 4, police helicopters were buzzing overhead, and hundreds of cops and dozens of police vans were positioned nearby. Already, a night earlier, Kricorian had found hundreds of protesters trapped between police vans and riot police a couple of blocks from her house. Then, she heard a voice: “Hey, Nancy!” It was her 22-year-old daughter and a friend standing on the sidewalk. They were being held by the police, and had been threatened with arrest just for being there. Eventually the protesters were allowed to continue their march.

“Local police forces are being ‘gifted’ with military hardware and equipment—there are now armored vehicles patrolling the streets of U.S. cities,” explained Kricorian. “While more money and equipment are flowing into illegal wars and occupations and militarized local police forces, our public commons are being pillaged by austerity measures and craven privatization drives. On top of this, systemic racism in policing, in the judiciary, and at large in our society has resulted in the need for public slogans and hashtags such as ‘Black Lives Matter.’”

 

***

 

“What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” Justice. Now. Time and time again, protesters have chanted those words. There is a hunger for justice, for change in the system.

For Avakian, the myth of the American Dream—that hard work pays off—fails to consider the real world power dynamics that by design keep some oppressed. “We can protest all we want, but real change won’t come until those in power acknowledge history and work to actually improve things. I’d like to see real structural changes, such as the improvement in police protocol, appropriate and equal education, and the creation of more economic opportunities within communities of color. Most importantly, I wish for reform in our ‘justice’ system,” she said.

Until justice reigns everywhere, we will hear these voices again. There will be Nancys and Melissas out on the streets of New York, or Istanbul. There will be Davids broadcasting their message on airwaves. And there will be Kohars reminding you of why—as Armenians, as people with conscience—you should join the struggles for justice.

“I am outraged. I am outraged by racism in policing and in our so-called criminal justice system. I am outraged by police impunity. As an American and as an Armenian I feel responsible to stand for justice for all—equality and dignity, from Ferguson to Staten Island to Amed to Gaza City,” said Kricorian.

87 Comments on Armenian-American Activists Speak Out on Ferguson

  1. avatar Talin Spenjian // December 11, 2014 at 4:01 pm // Reply

    This is both refreshing and surprising. Often, Armenians ignore their past and relate to the class in power.

  2. It is absolutely dispeakable to compare Armenian genocide to people who commit crime. The article is a spit into the face of thousands of Armenians who come to US and prosper with working very hard.

    • Guess what? We Armenians who have come here and “worked hard” and “prospered” are considered WHITE. My mother, in Azerbaijan, was one of only THREE Armenians in medical school, out of hundreds of students. Do you get it yet?

      I am very disappointed by replies penned by Armenians who cannot suspend their racist biases long enough to put on their critical-thinking hats. No one is comparing the victims of the Armenian Genocide to these “criminal” “low-life” African Americans whom you so despise.

      The point is to highlight the relationship between a marginalized minority population and the state which oppresses it. If you can’t see that parallel and find a modicum of empathy in your hearts, God help you.

    • “Guess what? We Armenians who have come here and “worked hard” and “prospered” are considered WHITE.”

      That is why it is all the more absurd when Americans instrumentalize their Armenian (or Jewish) ancestry to try to portray themselves as victims in need of special favors.

    • Yelena,
      I think you are comparing apples and oranges in your medical school example. I assume your mom studied in Baku during Soviet times. The state of Soviet Union did not discriminate against Armenians at that time. Baku was a diverse city with Azeri Turks actually in minority among all highly educated professionals. However, the Asiatic ways of doing business (nepotism, bribery) spread like plague there and drove away many smart Armenian students to study in Russia and other Soviet republics where they could actually receive superior education compare to Baku.

    • Yelena, it is quite daring to accuse somebody of racism in such low manner and at the same time put yourself as “critical-thinking, hat-wearing” person. Yes, the article compared genocide victims and their struggles to that of these particular recent events and it did compare Brown to Hrant. It is absolutely disgusting to compare well planned murder of the journalist to that of a person who just committed a crime and attacked an officer and things escalated. He gave his life for Armenian cause and he is compared to thug who shook down store clerk minutes earlier.
      It is you who put “low life criminal African-Americans” into equation while I meant the recent three cases, it is you who are hurling insults like you are the smart one and I am the racist dumb.
      If comparing your mother’s studies in Azerbaijan to that of this situation is your understanding of intelligence then I have nothing to say.

  3. Certainly there is a lot of police abuse.
    Its victims are people of all races, and I think that its perpetrators can be too.
    One reason it may be more frequent in Black communities is that there is that the crime rate is higher there and so the police focus more there.
    I am not justifying police abuse. All reasons must be examined.

    • Spot on and thank you. I can’t imagine, in my wildest dreams drawing any comparison between Brown and Armenian atrocities. None.

  4. BRAVO! to those who would express outrage and make these needed linkages between our oppression as Armenians and our brothers and sisters all over Amerika, but as someone who has sacrificed her life to have an ethnic esteem and brotherhood center for children in the Greater Boston area, who marched on the front lines of the Civil Rights and Anti-Poverty Movements 45 years ago ( with none of us demanding delayed college exams!) , who was awarded the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award for 35,000 programs, I challenge just one Hye who would invest in our effective, critical, heart-reaching work. Respectfully, Dora Kalajian, Tevanian, Founder/Director, Ethnic Arts Center

    • I think you Armenians who are comparing the genocide to the killing of brown should start to learn to read facts before making stupid comparisons. This police officer shot this bully because he was attacking a police officer who told him to stop. Any won with any brains white black or in between when he or she says stop you stop. This Brown guy was not an angel he had just robbed the store and you Armenians compare this to the Genocide are complete idiots. One Wha were the Armenians guilty of for the Turks to torture rape and murder. This Brown was a criminal attacking an officer. I am ashamed that you Armenians are comparing the two Disgusting.

  5. avatar Nannette Ghanatzian // December 11, 2014 at 5:53 pm // Reply

    Thank you for this beautiful heart wrenching article about the racial; judicial injustice in this country.
    Bravo for writing this story. I cried when I finished reading it.
    N

  6. avatar George Schweitzer // December 11, 2014 at 6:10 pm // Reply

    To compare the Michael Brown incident to the Armenian Genocide is probably the most disgusting comparison I have heard about the horrible events of 1915. You can’t be serious!
    George Schweitzer
    St. Louis, MO

    • Take a hike. You don’t know history, you don’t know the present. Armenians are oppressed people of color seeking justice. This fact in and of itself is enough to relate us to the Ferguson events. Genocide did not stop in 1915. Stop coveting it. It is sadistic and disturbed.

  7. Why in the world would you compare Michael brown to Armenians that have endured genocide ?? So basically , a man ribs and brutalizes a store owner then is given directives to clear the street by an officer of the law , disobeys them and then ends up breaking an officers eye socket and then gets himself killed. This is the comparison that is being made ?? Pretty disgraceful. What a pile of media induced engorged horse shit. Why would you even publicize such dribble. Disgusting.

    • What is disgusting is that Armenians have been the ultimate victims of racism and there are those among us who get off on applauding its most odious contemporary manifestations. Stockholm syndrome, white-man worship, loving your oppressor, call it what you want, but it is really pathetic.

  8. avatar Rouben Simonian // December 11, 2014 at 6:36 pm // Reply

    I am ashamed to see people who compare law abiding Armenians with criminals like Michael Brown who robbed a store by pushing a clerk and than attacking a policeman.
    Yes, I agree that there is police violence but this case has notting to do with race.
    It is absolutely despicable to compare our genocide with criminals…

  9. Are we reading the same article? Let me rephrase that: Did those of you who are accusing the author of comparing Ferguson to the Armenian Genocide actually read the article? Can you point out where such comparisons are drawn? The main point here, and I totally agree with it, is that the legacies of slavery and racism from Turkey against Armenians, to the US, have parallels. If you disagree, well, it’s your opinion.
    But keep your racism to yourself, will you?

    • avatar Rouben Simonian // December 11, 2014 at 8:13 pm //

      Turkey against Armenians have parallels to the US??? WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

    • Thank you Armen for putting it very nicely! Anyone who is not able to see the connection of these incidents going on in the US or anywhere in the world is simply blind or just ignoring the facts. Racism is real and it is any decent human being’s duty to do the best they can to stop it!

  10. I made a comment above but this comparing the Genocide with this legal killing of a criminal is just too much and some by Armenians I cant believe this. I feel sorry for the police officer who had to quit his job because of threats against his family and himself he did what a police officer is supposed to do. Protect himself I just can not believe the stupidity of the ones siding with the Brown liars. That police officer would have done the same thing to protect himself no matter what color the criminal was. You idiots trying to make this a racial issue just so you could rob burn loot and ruin it for the decent blacks who are the ones who are the losers in this barbarian behavior of a bunch of good for nothing criminals

    • Good luck joining the klan. You’ll need it because I am sure they loathe Armenians as much as africans.

  11. avatar Dicran M. Doumanian // December 11, 2014 at 9:04 pm // Reply

    What a bunch of BS. There isn’t a single Armenian I know that would agree with your article. I am 80 years old and it’s people like you that are part of the problem. You are comparing these crooks to all the hard working Armenians that obey the law. Are you also comparing what these cops did in the line of duty, to what the Turks did to over a million Armenians, including all 4 of my grandparents? You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

    • You think like a child. What happened to Armenians did not occur in a vacuum – it is part of a larger pattern of modern events. That is all this article is pointing out. And it is recommending we make allies instead of enemies, with oppressed people instead of oppressors. Learn how to read.

    • Great, Dicran!! I agree 100%.

  12. avatar J. G. Timourian // December 11, 2014 at 9:24 pm // Reply

    There was a time when Americans of Armenian heritage had among the lowest crime rates of any ethnic group in the United States. That has changed, particularly in Southern California. It would be better if the energy the recent events involving police and African Americans released was channeled into reducing crime, in general and among Armenians.

  13. avatar Amot Amotian // December 11, 2014 at 9:25 pm // Reply

    What a disgrace – comparing Armenians to these thugs. To all of you proud progressive liberals resorting to ad hominem attacks – you do not know if these people are racist, so stop addressing them as racists.

    • This article was apparently an open invitation to all Armenian racists. Sadly we are not lacking in these.

  14. There was no racism in Ferguson, Armen. The only racism is coming from this idiotic article.

  15. Is it really necessary to be part of an identifiable victim group (Black, Native American, Armenian, in the case of the quoted Dartmouth student) in order to empathize with someone else’s suffering? I really find it very condescending and belittling when members of our community say things like, “Oh I empathize with you; I’m Armenian.” It should be, “I empathize with you because I am a human being.”

    I’m tired of being portrayed as the victim people. Let’s be proud, for once. We won a war for goodness sake.

    • avatar Yerevanian // December 12, 2014 at 9:56 am //

      “I’m tired of being portrayed as the victim people. Let’s be proud for once.” What is that supposed to mean? Are you trying to imply that victims such as the Armenians, Blacks, and Native American Indians are not proud?

    • I agree with you. Most of the people I meet try to impress me with some knowledge of Armenian history and the the first thing they all say is the genocide. Though I appreciate it I always tell them that Armenia has oldest churches and place where Christ’s disciple lived, I tell them there is place older then Stonehenge, I tell them of our old historians and people who were students of great Greek thinkers. Like you said, we are the WINNERS!!!

    • Yerevanian, I did not mean that victim groups are not proud. I meant that it is not psychologically productive to equate our identity with victimhood, or even with “survival”, with all due respect to your opinion below. Nor is it productive to imply that victimhood is some sort of prerequisite for empathy. Oppressors are seldom victims. You will not get them to empathize with the oppressed by appealing to their victimhood; but you may, just may, be able to do so by appealing to their humanity. The Dartmouth student’s formulation above suggested that if she were fully white, she would have no reason to empathize with Brown.

    • avatar Yerevanian // December 16, 2014 at 2:46 am //

      Alex,

      By choosing to not classify the Armenian people as a “victim group,” you are basically saying that our people have finally been rendered justice for all of the horrible injustices committed to them in the past as well as the present. That’s certainly not the case; and until the time that justice is finally rendered, you, I, and the rest of our Armenian brothers and sisters will continue to be a victim group. Out of curiosity, why is all of this so psychologically unproductive to you? On the contrary, I find all of this to be psychologically productive and rather enormously too. As a matter of fact, my whole entire life is devoted to the obtainment of justice for the Armenian people.

  16. avatar George Schweitzer // December 11, 2014 at 11:50 pm // Reply

    Armen T,
    Yes Armen, I read it. From the article above, to further the author’s thesis of justice fails people of a different race, it is quoted “…Michael Brown is representative of the descendants of the Armenian Genocide who will never see justice in their lives…” Seems like a comparison to me. Moreso, MB got all the justice the law provided him and even more as many believe this was only given to the Grand Jury to consider due to rioting, and should have been dismissed immediately. What does any of this have remotely to do with gov’t sponsored deportations, rape, torture, and murder??? Please explain.

    Furthermore, your belief that being offended by this article is a result of being racist explains to me of your ignorance of the MB case and sorry you chose to get them from some agenda-driven news source that failed to deliver the facts. Race had nothing to do with MB’s death, his decisions throughout that day did. The fact you are making this about race shows me you are reaching so hard to make a non-race related event, race-based…who is racist now?

  17. avatar Mike Mirakian // December 12, 2014 at 12:51 am // Reply

    Justice WAS served — you just didn’t like the outcome! A grand jury heard the evidence and decided not to move forward to a trial. YOU didn’t hear all the evidence but insist on a trial anyway. It doesn’t work that way in the criminal justice system here. Perhaps you can ignore someone breaking the law, but a cop cannot. I too have experienced heavy handedness by the police but I didn’t charge at them or try to grab their gun. Your comparisons of what happened in Ferguson and the Genocide of Armenians is preposterous! Shame on you.

    • You don’t know how grand juries work. DA’s control grand juries and are in cahoots with police departments, in every county. Shame on you for not realizing the Armenian Genocide is ongoing. History has not ended. Our struggle is static and dead as long as racists among us are unwilling to situate in the greater context of western imperialism.

    • The way these anarchists work is that when they get riled up they burned down the businesses of innocent law-abiding citizens who had small stores in Ferguson. Roving bands of Turks did the same to Armenian homes and businesses all over Asia Minor during the pogroms and massacres leading up to 1915. So one could liken the actions of the criminal “demonstrators” in Ferguson to that of the Turks.

  18. avatar Ray Markarian // December 12, 2014 at 1:47 am // Reply

    I’m hard pressed to think of a bigger load of socialist propaganda than the article, “Armenian American Activists Speak Out on Ferguson”. From the title to the last sentence this article ignores the exculpatory evidence that justified police action taken against the thugs and criminals mentioned in the article. The only racism exposed is on the part of the “activists” with their victimhood agenda. What the “perps’ reaped is the fruit of what they sowed and it matters not at all if they were black, white or purple.
    Kohar Avakian avers that, “Michael Brown is representative of the black kids who never have the opportunity to go to college because they haven’t had access to a quality education…” but Michael Brown was slated to go to college when he decided he would commit “strong arm robbery” to steal a box of cigars. The particular brand is commonly used in the hood by drug users who hollow out the cigars and fill them with potent marijuana, just like the drug the pathologist found In Michael Brown’s system. Following the robbery of the store, Michael Brown proceeded to walk down the center of the road drawing the attention of Officer Darren Wilson. Responding to Wilson’s directive to go to the sidewalk Brown attacked the officer inside of the car and attempted to take the officer’s gun away. To see what happens when an officer has his gun taken away see the attached https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0ceTe_Olfc video. Aside from the eye witness testimony by members of the black community (two of which have been killed already) the forensic evidence (blood spatters and bullet casings) show Michael Brown attacked Officer Wilson while the officer was backing away as he fired at the head down rushing “gentle giant” who weighed almost one hundred pounds more than the officer. The prosecutor did not present a case to the 12-member grand jury either for or against acquittal. He presented all the evidence and told them to present their findings. This is highly unusual and eminently fair. I’m really at a loss how any of this can be linked to the lack of recognition by the Turkish government in regards to the massacre of millions of Armenians during World War I.
    As to the death of twelve year old Tamir Rice, his realistic toy gun came with a bright orange plastic ring on the end of the barrel (as required by law) which had been taken off so there was no way for the police to know if it was real or not. Police like to return home alive at the end of their shift just as the rest of us like to go home to our loved ones. The question that remains for me is what type of home and community did Tamir come from that he felt he could disobey the police to put the gun down and what motivated him to move forward and to point the gun at the police as if he was going to open fire.
    Eric Garner was not killed by an illegal chokehold. Officer Daniel Pantaleo used a hold that is legal for NYPD, a hold that presses upon his carotid artery. He did not press upon his windpipe. Eric Garner couldn’t breathe because of his health condition as affirmed by his wife who also said this incident wasn’t about racism. That is good enough for me. Whether the police were acting properly or improperly depends on if they informed Mr. Garner he was under arrest before they took him down. The video clearly shows him trying to walk away. If he was not told he was under arrest or was being detained he has a right to leave. If he was informed he was under arrest or being detained he violated the law by resisting arrest and brought his death upon himself.
    There is an awful lot of reference to racism towards blacks made in this article without establishing an actual connection to the events being motivated by racism. From the comments made by the activists sited in this article I assume they have chosen facts to fit the preconceived socialist narrative. The article “Armenian – American Activists Speak Out on Ferguson” is just so much agitprop.
    Ray Markarian

    • avatar Yerevanian // December 12, 2014 at 7:51 am //

      “What motivated him (Tamir Rice) to move forward and to point the gun at the police as if he was going to fire.” He actually did not point any gun at those police officers. At the time of the shooting, that replica gun happened to be by his waist. The only thing he did was moving his hand over by his waist. The police officer who shot and killed 12-year old Tamir, never even saw him pull out a gun. That’s the definition of an unjustifiable killing. On top of that, those heartless, cruel police officers handcuffed his 14-year old sister and threw her in the back seat of their police car.

      “Eric Garner was not killed by an illegal chokehold. Officer Daniel Pantaleo used a hold that is legal for NYPD.” That’s not true; on the contrary, Pantaleo’s chokehold which happens to be banned by the NYPD, killed Eric Garner. “Video clearly showed Pantaleo wrapping a beefy arm around Garner’s neck as he brought the 350-pound man down. Garner landed on his hands and knees and then onto his side. And, as the four other plainclothes cops joined in the fray, Garner was then forced onto his chest and held down on the ground.” At this moment, Garner was screaming that he couldn’t breathe. “But Pantaleo did not let go. He was seen forcing Garner’s face into the concrete. Four minutes into a seven-minute video clip, four EMT’s arrived. But neither they nor the eight cops standing around as Garner lay on the sidewalk could be seen trying to help the unconscious man.” What’s even more disturbing is that the rogue NYPD organization insisted that there was no chokehold and that Garner had never been in great distress. Make sure to read the following article:
      http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime-homicide-medical-examiner-article-1.1888808

    • Amazing that Armenian Weekly deems this comment fit to publish. Fascism in the Armenian community is real, sadly. You worship european people but I am sorry to be the one to tell you this, but European imperialism is what annihilated Armenians and what is still keeping us down. Turkish proto-fascism is a carbon copy of European fascism. The CUP were Europeanised Balkan chauvinists. Hitler adored Atatruk. You lick the boots of your oppressors. What a shame you don’t know your history and cannot see present events as they relate to you and your people. Piss off.

    • avatar Random Armenian // December 13, 2014 at 1:36 pm //

      Stepanos,

      And yet at the same time, the Western world has produced some of the most progressive and important ideas in human history which the rest of the world has embraced. Having a say in your government through elections. Freedom of speech. the Scientific method. In addition to the worst events such as WWII, imperialism, racism and genocide.

      This is the thing about Europe and the US. They have produced some of the best and worst ideas in human history. And people are very selective in what they want to see in Europe and the US. They either see the West as a negative influence or something to emulate.

      Europe, for the most part, has set itself on a positive direction after the catastrophic, self-inflicted wound of WWII. I see the positives out-weighing the negatives in the post WWII Europe and the US. And I believe Armenia should embrace and learn from the positive experiences.

      The US is hated for it’s foreign policy, and yet it sets a positive example when every 4 years, they elect a new president or keep that person for another term. And the person, sitting in what may be the most powerful leadership in the world, step down after loosing an election or finishing a second term. There are so many countries around the world where people want to have that kind of say in their governments.

    • Why wouldn’t an ARF-D affiliated journal reflect a socialist position? It is part of the socialist international after all. Most Armenian parties were socialist or communist. What do you think ASALA’s orientation was? If you don’t like it go back to your fascizt message boards or try sucking up to some bourgeois liberals (I think you’ll find they prefer Turkish capital to Armenian, however). I hope you realize that you worship the very same forces of capital that robbed your people and got rich off the genocide.

    • Random Armenian,

      Of course the west has advanced human civilization. That does not mean the political systems of the west are inherently enlightened our that the most progressive ideals are inspiring those systems. Western democracies are highly sophisticated systems for accumulating and protecting private wealth and fracturing societies before whatever else they may incidentally also be. To this end, they have all the advanced rhetorical tools of Western political thought and philosophy to draw on (and hide behind).

      The post-war American brokered consensus is based on subverting democracy, that is indisputable based on what has come out on NATO’s sinister role in destabilizing western europe with covert fascist terror cells and on the US role in supporting genociding dictators in the third world. I desperately don’t want Armenia to get sucked into this vile clique, and I certainly don’t want Armenian-Americans to provide the cover for our people selling themselves to the reactionary American imperialist project. The fact that NATO is the prime oppressive architect of modern Turkey should make it a non-starter for us, but Armenians are still naive vis-a-vis I guess.

      Look, western man decrying oriental despotism is the oldest trick in the book and the surest admission of guilt. At the end of the day, the intellectual resources for transcending capital are european in origin – no shame in admitting this. I would love if Armenians could recognize this and chart their own path based on their unique experiences in the USSR and as a refugees in the western world. Hope this comment does not get censored.

    • avatar Random Armenian // December 17, 2014 at 12:18 pm //

      Yes Stepanos, instead we should be governed by Russian imperialism instead. That’s sooooo much better than the empire of EU. Come on man, all major powers play the empire game. We’re stuck with the Russian flavor here. You think Russia doesn’t play games with other countries? Look at the subversive military games its playing in Ukraine. Look at the corruption and the heavy handed politics playing out in Russia. I bet you that with Armenia under greater Russian control through the EEU, public criticism of Russia in Armenia will be suppressed through pressure from Russia.

      I have no idea what your last paragraph even meant. Sounds like ideological gibberish. Can you elaborate on what you meant in that paragraph?

    • Random Armenian,

      Thanks for keeping this dialogue going and for keeping it civil. Sure, I can elaborate on my last paragraph, which of course was ideological to some degree (most opinions are) but, however muddled, was not gibberish. I meant to convey that the Armenian experience of scientific socialism and the different Armenian experiences of globalized capitalism should put us (hayastantsis + spyourks) in a decent position to work towards a refined and more realizable socialism. You bring up Russia, I was not relishing the binary choice between Western imperialism and Russian imperialism and I was not excusing or minimizing the latter. But according to the logic of history, the absence of one-power will likely mean the presence of another. At least with Russia you have a neighbor you know, a shared history, and some influence. You also understand how things work, how it guards its interests, how it plays dirty. The west is far more hypocritical, but equally cynical. Incidentally, who is doing more to protect Armenians in the Middle East and whose troops on are the Turkish border, Russia or the West? The whole article above is basically about the good-sense in forming anti-imperialist alliances, which in the end is always the ideal to shoot for. Under the Russian yoke, this is still very possible. Russia is much weaker than the West. Under the NATO yoke, this is utterly inconceivable. I think our interests lie, long-term, with the forces pushing against the west.

      I was also making the point that the West is hyperbolic in its claim that its camp is the preserve of democracy and freedom and that anyone who does not yield to them is repressive and backward. The whole point of this hyperbole is to distract from the economic and political coercion used to enlarge the neo-liberal bloc and open more markets for goods. When poorer countries are force-fed western products, they relinquish control of their economies and become entirely dependent. Russia is presently trying to do something similar within its sphere and also trying to challenge the west globally, where it can, using its capacity as an energy exporter. Recently many countries in Latin America have begun to capitalize on this and reassert some independence, also enabled by Venezuelan oil. All they are trying to do is reclaim some initiative to run their economies independent from American and European mega-banks and trying to move on from the US-sponsored nightmares of previous generations. This is not a complete rejection of the west, which would be impossible because their cultures have European roots and affinities and because their geographically tied to the states. It is hoping to achieve some breathing space to allow for development that targets the most critical areas of social suffering.

      What I said about tools for transcending capital being European was a roundabout way of saying that modern economic planning was pioneered in Western Europe and the USSR. These are still valid models. And I am saying that Armenians as a whole have very instructive experiences of socialism (the indisputable merits and the indisputable vices) and very instructive experiences of new age globalized capitalism (the indisputable merits and the indisputable vices) and should be in a strong position to learn from these experiences, constructively. To me this would mean reconstructing a better and more durable socialism drawing on what is happening in the mercosur countries. Unfortunately we’ve let the entire Soviet experience become stigmatized to such a degree that crony capitalism and two-faced western ass-kissing seem somehow normal or excusable. The USSR collapsing precisely at the high water-mark of Thatcherism/Regeanism gravely changed the history of humanity and imposed a deceptive ideological consensus that capitalism is permanent. This has greatly confused politics everywhere on the planet – to extreme degrees for post-Soviet people, as it has licensed enormous havoc and nihilism and a return to the most arcane fascisms. The visionary among us, foremostly Monte Melkonian – whose legacy has been conveniently neglected by new-age fascists, saw the perils of this situation when it was happening. I hope we can learn from his ideas. First we have to understand how we wound up at this juncture.

    • avatar Random Armenian // December 21, 2014 at 11:13 pm //

      Stepanos,

      We have no influence over Russia. Our dinky little lobbies in DC have more influence over the US than Russia and that’s not saying much.

      When you say a new socialism. Do you have something specific in mind, or is this something you hope we Armenians figure out. Is this socialism something like the one found in the Scandinavian countries? Do you have any examples that you think comes closest to what you have in mind? Otherwise you’re speaking in terms of hypothetical and dreamy ideas to me.

      Sorry but I see nothing redeeming about the USSR. What they had was way too extremely centralized to the point where progress or development was blocked by an unimaginative and uncreative, authority. It was not able to sustain itself and was rejected by the people who lived through it. Society needs the openness for people to be experimental, creative, exploratory and self-critical. A society which is willing and allowed to tweak it’s economic system based on experience. For the most part a capitalist and democratic system do this better. That said, there needs to be a good regulations on industry and banks, since we know what happens when no one keeps an eye on them. That and some sort of common health care system. I suppose that makes me a socialist in some people’s eyes ;)

      Are you an academic by any chance?

    • Random Armenian,

      Gorbachyov was moving the USSR towards Scandinavian social democracy – he openly stated as much. History intervened and he got stabbed in the back by a bunch of vultures, then the west triumphantly dictating terms and let mafiosi take over.

      Armenia was the most prosperous and educated SSR. This by itself is something redeeming about the USSR. Now it is one of the poorest post-Soviet republics. It is healthcare system used to be envied and free to all, now it is in shambles and most people cannot even dream of the care they got a generation ago. Anyone can list the litany of abject failures of Soviet socialism, all kinds of repression and evils, no doubt, but my point is that at the time it dissolved it was evolving towards something better than what exists now. So, how to pick up from that point as best we can, as an independent country, leaving behind the reactionary rubbish, is the question worth posing.

      We don’t have much influence over Russia, but they clearly understand our position and are willing to defend our borders, which the west does not even bother pretending it would do. And the fact that the ruling class in Armenia can relate to the ruling class in Russia by dint of being apparatchiks in the same party back in the days, well, means something. Let’s also not forget that there are powerful Armenians like Lavrov close to the Kremlin – nothing parallels this in Washington.

      Yes, capitalist systems are by their very nature more dynamic economically (and erratic) than socialist ones because to be successful their economies have to grow at accelerating rates and this clearly leads to unfathomable scrambles to marketize more and more areas of social life. Clearly this demands remarkable ingenuity. Unfortunately there is no higher purpose or goal to this growth, so securing peoples needs is secondary to enshrining ever more transactions. I am not advocating a full command economy, but democratic political institutions are moot in the most essential ways because people cannot democratically determine how the economy should function, at least in a general sense. If there is one thing nominally enfranchised people in capitalist countries have absolutely no control over, it is the economies that run their lives.

      No, I am not an academic I am just interested in history and politics. And I am very interested in finding Armenians who share at least some of my aspirations.

    • Random Armenian,

      Sorry, I posted a lengthy reply but it didn’t make it through moderation. I guess the moderator wasn’t impressed with what I had to say (or maybe was too impressed) who knows? There was nothing inflammatory in it, so all I can do is try to recapitulate a boiled-down version and hope and pray the censor is in a more magnanimous mood today…

      The main points worth making were that from a strictly Armenian perspective there was much that was redeeming about the Soviet experience. To say that there was nothing redeeming is to willfully ignore tangible things that are meaningful to people’s everyday lives. The Armenian SSR was the most prosperous republic, the most educated, had an excellent health care system that Armenians can now only dream of, and had close to full employment; in 2014 Armenia is struggling by all these metrics, even when compared with other post-Soviet states. Armenians punched above their weight in the USSR and knitted in intelligently within the Soviet patchwork of peoples. Whatever else you think of the USSR, this is undeniable. More importantly, just prior to its collapse, Gorbachov was trying his damndest to move the USSR in the direction of Scandinavian social democracy – he stated this openly and unequivocally. Had there not been a resurgence of pathologically hostile evangelist cold warriors politically ascendent in the west at this time, and had there not been backstabbers ready to sell the whole country for a farthing, things may have well gone differently and we might be living in a world with a reformed socialism. Nonetheless, we can reconstruct some of Gorbachov’s vision and take what we care to from it. Decentralization, small-scale free enterprise, local markets, unrestricted and independently run media, with directed state-driven development in the key areas of the economy to do with people’s basic needs (energy, medicine, social services, education, transit) are basic aims that any new socialism worthy of the name would include. The entire western world is now moving at quite a rate of knots away from this type of society – even the Scandinavian countries that have consistently registered the highest standards of living on the planet and countries like Italy and Greece whose communist parties were perennially close to power throughout the 70’s and 80’s (the PCI consistently had a third of electorate but was always blocked from governing by US-brokered pacts between the centre and right-wing parties that automatically refused coalitions with it).

      So what I am suggesting is that if you want something different than what we have now (and who wouldn’t besides vampiric oligarchs and die-hard reactionaries) you have to at least be willing to look at the past fairly, without stigmatizing wholesale. Conventional political wisdom is not what it was in 1992, 2007, 2009 etc., etc. Political fads are very fickle, so there is no sense in cordoning off huge areas of our recent history as beyond reasoned debate.

      So you think we have even less leverage with Russia than we do with the US of A? Neither of us really knows whether this is true or not, but I am hugely skeptical of this claim. Let’s put it this way: how could we have less influence in Washington than we do already? The only thing they could do is give us less aid, which actually they are doing each year. How could we have less influence in Moscow? They could withdraw their troops from the Turkish border and let us defend it ourselves, they could have kept their radar station in Azerbaijan, move their base in Gyumri, stop selling us arms, gouge us with gas prices, etc., etc. Of course they could be much better and more altruistic allies, less imperialistic and bullying, but they have at least proved willing to do things for Armenia that the west could never even pretend to do, i.e. acting as a live deterrent against Turkey and Azerbaijan. Consider how far Washington was willing to go to stick up for Georgia in 2008 after it egged it on to invade S. Ossetia. And Georgia was its most born-again ass-kissing poster child of an ally, even naming a main boulevard after G.W. Bush. Given how little we have to offer Washington, we must learn to expect nothing at all from them no matter what we might do. We also have influential Armenians like Lavrov close to Kremlin (like Mikoyan before him) so we are not at a total loss with Russia as you seem to think.

  19. Unfortunately, racism, inequality, and the abuse of citizens’ rights are three things which will never be overcome in this country called the United States which persistently pretends to be the “land of freedom and equality.” It is these three things which have shaped the history of this country. After all, how does the history of this country begin? It begins with the Anglo-White people’s arrival on the soil of the original Americans (Native American Indians) in which they would gradually proceed to seize their entire lands and in the process, commit genocide against these people. As a result, several million Native American Indians would be forced out of their lands and relocated to U.S. cities, where they would be stripped of their culture and forced to assimilate into Anglo-White culture. And, the tiny remains of that once thriving Native American Indian civilization only exists today on those bleak, miserable reservations. Prior to the arrival of the Anglo-White man on the soil of the present-day United States, there existed a population of ten to twelve million full one hundred percent Native American Indians. By the end of the 1890’s, there were no more than 250 thousand full one hundred percent Native American Indians remaining.

    What about the African-Americans? That’s another group of people who’ve been horribly mistreated in this country. Let’s not forget that they did not land on Plymouth Rock; on the contrary, it was Plymouth Rock that landed on the Black folks. More precisely, it was the Anglo-White man from this country who went to Africa and abducted almost one million Africans, chaining them, throwing them onto their ships, and then hauling them over here to become America’s slaves. And for over three hundred years of U.S. history, these Black folks were denied any kind of basic human rights. Although the former American policy of denying Blacks their voting rights as well as segregating neighborhoods, schools, restaurants, parks, beaches, hotels, and public toilets would end by the late sixties, the overall situation of the African-American people today has not improved a whole lot since that period of time. They certainly don’t have equal opportunities; whether we’re talking about education, employment, living conditions, or citizens’ rights, America’s Blacks are treated with enormously less equality than America’s Whites.

    “Local police forces are being gifted with military hardware and equipment-there are now armored vehicles patrolling the streets of U.S. cities.” Not only is America trying to bully and cause fear to so many countries throughout the world, but yet, it’s also trying to bully and cause fear to its own citizens. This explains the reason for those armored vehicles cruising up and down the streets of American cities. This explains the reason for America’s local police forces being supplied with military hardware and equipment. This explains the reason for America having such a ridiculously gigantic prison population (America currently holds twenty-five percent of the world’s prison population). This explains the reason why America still continues to build more and more prisons. This explains the reason why the constitutional rights of American citizens have been so enormously suppressed over the past thirteen years (the Bill of Rights does not carry much weight anymore). And finally, this explains the reason why the typical police officer of today’s United States has absolutely no problem murdering an unarmed, non-threatening Black man.

  20. According to Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton, it is impossible for Caucasian’s to suffer racism. Last time I checked , while filling out the boxes for financial aid for my Armenian Children, I checked White (Caucasian). But that’s not the worst part of the is article. Blaming America for what happened to the 1.5M martyrs is disingenuous. Our parents raised families, started business, and went to war and died to defend this country that gave them sanctuary, allowed them to practice their religion and rejoice in their culture. Last time I went to Mass, their were no armed guards at the door.
    What I am tired of is that Armenians all over the world look at Mt. Ararat and do nothing to take it back but whine to this country, or that politician, or some other diplomat. If we want it, what are we doing to get it back. Have we supported the destruction of ISIL, have we offered to build an air force base for American war planes, have we really did we do all we can to fight our real oppressors?

  21. avatar Vart Adjemian // December 12, 2014 at 1:49 pm // Reply

    Is there racism in the US? Yes. Are there instances where police use excessive force? yes.
    Those instances, which sadly and coincidentally, happened within a short period of time, is not indicative of the dedication and unthankful job that thousands of police officers perform everyday to keep us safe. We should never forget that their lives are in danger too. Just look at the statistics of police officers killed every year in their line of duty. How come nobody cries for them?
    Finally, I totally agree with the comments and opinions expressed that comparing these unfortunate incidents to the Genocide is disrespectful, disgraceful, preposterous, despicable and any other adjective that is not fit to print. Activism is good and encouraged, but they should have the right perspective.
    The organized, orchestrated and sponsored Genocide of 1.5 million Armenians by the Turkish government, and their continued denial, cannot and I repeat cannot and should not be compared to the three isolated cases. There is absolutely no justifiable connection between the two. Enough said.
    Vart Adjemian

  22. Thank you so much for this article. I agree wholeheartedly and am sharing this article with friends and family members.

  23. How dare you compare Michael Brown with Armenians…My father, who spoke no English came to the US in the 1920’s. a survivor of the Genocide..who raised himself by his ” boot-straps”..and raised an honorable family teaching us to be respectful of our country and teaching us values to respect others.

    • Well, the problem in all of this, happens to be that so many of the young Armenian folks in this country are doing a very poor job of preserving the noble Armenian cultural values of their ancestors and are instead adopting the sleazy, foul cultural values of the United States. As a result, they become detached from their Armenian culture; and in the process, they become victims of the Armenian cultural genocide which is taking place throughout the Armenian communities of Western society, such as the United States and Europe.

    • He also apparently taught you servility and ass-kissing. So this is why you hate the people you should feel empathy towards and respect the oppression he fled.

    • I use the word ’empathy’ because it means relating our suffering to the suffering we see around us today. Do you have to literally see people who look like us marching through the dessert to be able to draw a connection? How is it that any adult in the 21`st century would need this explained to them.

  24. Why do Armenian Americans have to be so stupidly politically correct? Stop all these fruitless protests and victimizing our culture. If you spent a fraction of the resources on controlling politicians like the Jews do instead of useless things like this, genocide recognition wouldn’t even be an issue.

    • Political correctness has nothing to do with it. It is about standing together with people of color who are being oppressed. If you cannot see that you are illiterate.

    • Yes, fine, stand together, but why do we have to invoke our “Armenian-ness” to do so? How sad does this look: “We’re the genocide people; you’re the slave people; let’s stand together!”

      If Armenians internalize the view that we are a victim people and that only victim groups can empathize with one another, then we will never succeed. Eventually, we need to convince the powerful to support us–we won’t do so by invoking victimhood.

    • Well, Alex, I would not say that we have to invoke our Armenian-ness, but I would say it behooves us to do so. If we are curious enough to relate our living history of oppression to that of other people’s we have ample opportunity. If don’t want to do this, for whatever reason (snobbery, bigotry, apathy, naivete, or just plain small-mindedness) we’ll remain obscure and forever at the margins of political consciousness.

      Educated people realize that the Genocide was not an isolated event, some sort arcane blood lust from a bygone era. In fact our own depiction of it as such, keeps it as an issue and us as a people very marginal indeed. Rather, it was very central to the imperial machinations of the day (Berlin-Baghdad railway, competing imperialisms in the Near East, and the entire imperial project of nation-building in the modern Middle East). A lot has happened since 1915. There have been many waves of reaction against the imperialism and genocides of the early 20th century. Anti-imperialist movements have impacted liberation movements among black people in the Americas and amongst third world people all over the world. Because of this, if we are shrewd, we have ample opportunity to create sincere dialogue with many different groups within this tide – precisely because of what we’ve suffered. This would put us on the right side of history, which we’re so concerned with, at least rhetorically. Now, the fact that many Latin American countries recognize the genocide is very interesting. Some European countries recognize it but do so at no cost to themselves, in other words, without recognizing their role in it, and using it as a card to play against Turkey, when it suits them. Even if the United States recognizes the Genocide, it will be in this manner. This should tell us something as to who are potentially sincere allies are – not the West, NATO or the European Union, for whom we will always be expendable and which are in many ways the modern benefactors of the genocide.

    • avatar Yerevanian // December 16, 2014 at 2:27 am //

      Alex,

      Why do you feel so disgruntled by Armenians getting together with other victimized groups, such as African-Americans and Native American Indians, and sharing with them our own history of how our people were victimized and still continue to be victimized? After all, who can possibly understand the suffering of our victimized people better than those particular people who have also been victimized?

      “Eventually, we need to convince the powerful to support us-we don’t do so by invoking victimhood.” Actually, whether one invokes victimhood or not, has absolutely nothing to do with the powerful supporting us. If you take a look at the governments of the powerful countries today, they only support those less powerful countries who have something to offer them; otherwise, they will never support you. As for the noble concept of humanity, those powerful countries out there certainly don’t care about any of that.

    • Stepanos,

      Both you and Yerevanian are approaching this issue of identity in strategical international-relations terms. You are saying that by invoking victimhood Armenia can form alliances with other previously victimized countries (of the Global South). Yerevanian is suggesting that invoking victimhood is somehow a prerequisite for making legal claims on one’s rights.

      I do not disagree. But I am speaking not on the global strategical level but on a much more personal level, of how we people of Armenian descent see ourselves. Will you raise your child to teach him to see himself as a victim? Do you think this is a healthy and self-empowering image one should have of oneself? I am not talking about how we portray ourselves to other for strategical reasons. I am talking about how we see ourselves in the mirror.

    • Alex,

      Point taken. Last thing I want is for us to internalize victim-hood any more than we have done. Often this is precisely what prevents us from empathizing with other oppressed people, ironic as it sounds. This paradox is exemplified in Israeli oppression of Palestinians. I am obviously not the first person to point this out. Their deeply ingrained sense of themselves as victims blinds them to their own atrocities. That is what I meant when I said we should stop coveting the unique injustice done to us, because it will lead us bad places. I think you can know your own history, draw strength from it, and seek justice for what was done to your ancestors without being weighed down by the victim complex. Basically you’re only a victim if you carry around the hate given to you from your oppressor. That is how I’ll teach my child.

  25. Sunshine,

    Actually, what makes the Armenian people winners, has absolutely nothing to do with having the oldest churches nor being students of great Greek thinkers. What truly makes the Armenian people winners, is that after all of the horror that has taken place in our history, we Armenians still continue to exist. We’re still standing tall with our culture, language, churches, and beloved Fatherland. Everything that our much bigger enemies attempted to do to us, they failed at. They tried to destroy our culture, and they failed. They tried to make us lose our religion, and they failed. They tried to steal our whole entire historic homeland, and they failed. They even tried to exterminate our whole entire race up to the very last one of us, and again they failed. This just comes to show the whole world how the Armenian people have persevered throughout their history, and have never succumbed to their much bigger enemies. This is why the Armenian culture still exists today. This is why an Armenian homeland exists today. And, this is why the Armenian people are winners.

    • Yerevanian,
      I fully agree with you. My comment was about the country and its old history. It is one of the most interesting aspects of Armenian culture and on its own is fascinating. I am shocked how much of Matenadaran’s vast collections are not even studied though contain thousands of samples of ancient writings. There is a lot of fascination with history and not so much about the character of the nation. But again, I agree with you.

    • Very strange comment. If we are such winners why is it that the independent Republic of Armenia can only feed off its own population to the point where the country is on the brink of dissolution. If you want to think of things in the childish terms of winning and losing we will only be winners when the majority of Armenians can live with a modicum of dignity. At the moment they cannot because what CUP and Ataturk could not accomplish in five generations, bankrupt crony capitalism is making short work of in a generation in half a generation – namely the cleansing of Armenians from the Near East. So Armenian capitalists are winning, sure, but the majority of Armenians are losers. For some reason the diaspora applauds this as freedom. It is freedom to starve.

    • avatar Yerevanian // December 16, 2014 at 3:22 am //

      Stepanos,

      Why are you attempting to establish that the Armenian people are losers due to the enormous corruption within the Republic of Armenia government? One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. It’s President Sargsyan and his Republican party gang of thugs who are the losers for persistently neglecting the needs of Armenia’s citizens which causes so many of them to emigrate out of the country on a yearly basis. As for the Armenian people, they are winners due to their perseverance and ability to overcome all of the horrors they’ve encountered in their brutal history. Hey, the Armenian people were never even supposed to have made it this far; however, they did. And because of their perseverance and dignity, the Armenian people will continue to go even farther.

    • Yerevanian,

      I am not suggesting we’re “losers”. I am simply pointing out the embarrassingly obvious: that it is childish and ludicrously naive to think of ethnic groups in these terms. When you do so we sound like cretins to people who live in this century. So Phoenicians, Assyrians, Incans, Mayans, etc, etc., are “losers” according to you? In that case Chinese people must be the biggest “winners” on the planet by dint of their cultural longevity and sheer numbers. Please let us not devolve in kindergarten logic. We can do better, even on an online discussion forum.

      It is fabulous and inspiring that Armenian people and culture has survived in the manner it has. But let’s not pretend that we haven’t evolved into who we are today in countless stages. Continued survival means continual evolution. Smugly declaring us winners suggests were somehow timeless and static. This kind of thinking will bury faster than any outside force. I am encouraging you to see the trees from the forest and look at who we are, have been, and want to be, as opposed to recoiling into the cold comfort of chest-beating and chauvinism.

    • Stepanos,

      Your comments are filled with meaningless words which do not relate to anything. Exactly which trees from the forest are you encouraging me to see? And exactly what sort of chest-beating am I doing? This actually reminds me of my earlier days when I played football for my high-school team. I used to play the position of outside linebacker; and I was pretty good too. I absolutely loved to sack the quarterback, and in a rather brutal manner too. And every single time that I would deliver a sack on the opposing quarterback, I would immediately begin to pound my fists against my chest, which would fire up my teammates. That was a fun period of time in my earlier life. Anyway, let’s return back to what we were discussing earlier. First of all, you actually did suggest that the Armenian people were losers in your previous post (Dec.14, 2014 at 6:53 p.m.) in which you stated “the majority of Armenians are losers.” Furthermore, there is absolutely nothing childish nor ludicrous about depicting the Armenian people as winners, based on their perseverance and ability to overcome all of the horrors that have transpired within their history. As a matter of fact, this is inspiring and encouraging for other Armenians to hear. Sure, there are losers among the Armenian people; however, the majority of Armenians possess the spirit of a true winner.

    • Yerevanian,

      Looks like you could not comprehend what I wrote. That is kind of depressing. It was perfectly legible but apparently too light on neanderthal grunts and monosyllabic gurgles. My bad.

      I previously wrote in the clause you quoted that if you insist on using the childish dichotomy of “winners/losers” you’ll be laughed at by most people with opposable thumbs. Nonetheless, as a generous gesture, if someone has to stoop to engage you on these terms, they will only class us “winners” when we can live in dignity, without exploiting each other.

      So, let me try this again: I am not saying anyone is a loser except for the neanderthals that think of ethnic groups in these terms.

    • Stepanos,

      On the contrary, I fully comprehend everything you wrote, even better than you. However, what’s depressing is that as I pointed out earlier, it’s filled with meaningless words which relate to nothing. On the subject of “winners/losers,” other Armenians out there happen to have no problem with me classifying the Armenian culture as winners. Truly speaking, I haven’t come across one single Armenian up to now who was opposed to this classification. And if the Neanderthals happen to disagree, then that’s their problem.

    • Yerevanian,

      Hmmm, bizarre of you to claim to understand everything I wrote better than I do myself and yet simultaneously insist my words are meaningless. I think you are in a little over your head (hopefully you grasp that this a figurative way of speaking) because you don’t seem to able to explain why your line of thinking is at all cogent. Your derelict grammar is frustrating but your inability to construct an argument that can be parsed for anything beyond neanderthal grunts is what really irks me.

      Just because you haven’t met any Armenians that have expressed dismay at how ridiculously and naively you use language doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Incidentally, even if the majority of Armenians felt the way you do, it would not automatically make this kind of thinking intelligent, constructive, or virtuous. It would just mean we have a lot of work to do to educate ourselves.

    • avatar Yerevanian // December 20, 2014 at 3:09 am //

      Stepanos,

      If my grammar frustrates you, then that’s your own fault for not learning basic English grammar. Instead of grunting so much about meaningless things which relate to nothing, maybe you should instead work on educating yourself as well as improving your comprehension of basic English grammar.

      Incidentally, every single Armenian I’ve met up to now in Armenia, Artsakh, and the diaspora did actually agree that although numerous losers do exist among the Armenian people, the majority of Armenians are still a people who possess a winning spirit. Going even further, I also happen to have Latino, Black, and Asian friends who agree with this. On the other hand, there are, of course, many non-Armenians who would totally disagree.

      By the way, if my comments really irk you as you stated in your previous comment, then what explains the reason for you returning back to me in such a devoted manner?

    • Yerevanian,

      Hah, okay bro, you’re free to believe that your English is impeccable and you sound like a Rhodes scholar. Take no heed of my suggestion to get some basic grammar lessons. That is certainly your choice.

      You commented on my post so I was paying you the courtesy of replying. Generosity of spirit is what motivated me. But yes, you’re right, at this point we’ve exhausted all possibility of meaningful exchange. So, good luck to you…

    • Stepanos,

      It’s certainly sweet of you to have devoted all that courtesy towards me, even though my comments irk you so much. Anyway, hopefully after you work on educating yourself as well as improving your comprehension of basic English grammar, you’ll return back to me for more of my lecturing on the Armenian people’s winning spirit.

    • Yerevanian,

      Haha, at least you have a good sense of humor.

  26. avatar Random Armenian // December 14, 2014 at 1:52 am // Reply

    There is a lot of police who abuse their power. This is unacceptable. And those who accept grand jury decisions at face value may be a little naive. The system protects the police.

    And yes victims of police abuse are from all segments of society, but that does not mean racism is not the source of some of this abuse. Profiling is real and so are deaths, regardless of what’s behind these latest individual cases in the news.

    And here is a parallel from the Armenian experience:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sevag_Bal%C4%B1k%C3%A7%C4%B1

    Sevag Balıkçı, killed while completing his military service in the Turkish army. Any guesses as to how and why he was killed?

    You think things like this do not happen in the US with the black community?

    We expect police to be just and professional, but there will always be some who will not act the way we expect of them. And there is a system out there which shields a lot of the bad apples.

  27. The notion that Michael Brown was anything better than a hoodlum or a thug who used his physical size to intimidate and take the weapon of a police officer is OUTRAGEOUS. And the people who burned down the city of Ferguson down in sympathy are criminals, pure and simple, who deserve to be locked up in jail and forced to make reparations for the wanton destruction they caused. This is not about a legitimate grievance–it is about socialists, communists and anarchists who are taking advantage of a tragedy to foment an uprising in the USA. The public watching from afar is outraged by the looting and burning down of legitimate businesses. Armenians have nothing in common with these criminals.

  28. avatar Random Armenian // December 15, 2014 at 12:12 am // Reply

    http://www.ocalapost.com/opd-officer-to-military-veteran-i-am-a-cop-you-understand-you-stupid-mother-fer/

    Stuff like this happens way too often in this country, and as you can see, people in the system protect bad cops by withholding evidence from the prosecution.

    So take grand jury decisions with a grain of salt.

  29. avatar Mike Mirakian // December 15, 2014 at 1:15 am // Reply

    Stepanos
    How can you tell me I don’t know how grand juries work? You don’t even know me! I’ve served on 5 juries, two of which were Grand Juries — how many have YOU served on? I found to my surprise that in all 5 juries the jurors took their jobs very seriously. On occasion (albeit few) they either rejected the prosecutor’s request or altered what he asked for. Is the Armenian Genocide still going on? Yes but in a different but still disturbing way. Stop comparing Michael Brown’s death to that suffered by the Armenians at the hands of the Turks. The Armenians were slaughtered only because of their ethnicity. Michael Brown died as a result of his own doing, not because he was Black! I don’t mean this to be personal but you seem to have a lot of time on your hands to be able to blog as many responses as you have. I hope you can find the same time to work in your community on some of the centennial events.

    • I made a presumption. Perhaps it was wrong. I have also served on two grand juries and in both cases was very disturbed by the way the prosecutors and the D.A. manipulated proceedings and tried to coerce the jurors. Likewise, in my experiences most jurors did take their responsibility very seriously. I never insinuated otherwise. The working relationship between the D.A. and Police Departments is, however, just a case of built-in institutional bias, which in this case proved very pertinent. I was objecting to the triumphalist tone in your post and your refusal to be able to empathize with racist violence despite what our ancestors went through. I think coveting our suffering is weakening our cause and frankly it is embarrassing for justice-seeking Armenians to have to constantly have to sweep retrograde fascist strains in our community under the rug.

      You can get as personal as you like. I am posting as much as I have done on this thread because I am appalled to see this many unashamed racists come out of the woodwork and because I want other Armenians who feel this way to not be too disheartened. I also am bored at my day job and need an outlet, what can I say? Whether I put in a Stakhanovite effort towards the centennial or sat on my ass eating lahmajun I am sure my opinions would remain unpalatable to you.

  30. Alex,

    You brought up two smart questions. (1) Will you raise your child to teach him to see himself as a victim? Truly speaking, I don’t believe that it’s the duty of an Armenian parent to raise his or her child in viewing themselves as being a victim or not being a victim. Let the Armenian child make that decision. In other words, based on what that particular Armenian child learns about his or her history, he or she will then be able to decide for himself or herself how they view their people in relation to the world. (2) Do you think this is a healthy and self-empowering image one should have of oneself? Well, is there anything that’s unhealthy and not empowering in accepting the reality that our Armenian people happen to be a victim group and that we should therefore be firmly united together in pursuing the justice that is owed to you, me, and the rest of our Armenian brothers and sisters? After all, what’s more empowering than a victim group fighting for its justice and then finally obtaining its justice?

  31. Nanore, great article! As to most of the comments to it – it is so very sad that we Armenians have taken up the white man’s racist view of the world.

  32. avatar Vart Adjemian // December 30, 2014 at 11:30 pm // Reply

    It is very sad and disheartening that some of the comments are merely attacking other commentators.
    It is very disrespectful to insult and degrade others.
    One huge advantage of living in the USA, is everyone is entitled to his opinion and has the freedom to express it, but it should be done with decorum and sensitivity. Quite often in our lives, we agree to disagree.
    And to those who believe that the USA is a racist, unjust, unfair and oppressive society, you have the freedom and choice to leave
    and find a place in the world that fits your aspirations and expectations. I suggest as a real politically correct patriot you consider moving to Armenia. May be there, you will have the opportunity to change some of the ills the Homeland faces and find a better forum than the AW to express your opinions.
    The USA is not perfect. Indeed , like any country in the world, there are serious issues that need to be addressed and changed. But please, stop bashing it, and making unfounded and baseless allegations. Finally you have the right to vote; exercise it. And become an activist in the Armenian cause ( for example by supporting the ANCA).
    Vart Adjemian

    • avatar Yerevanian // January 1, 2015 at 10:17 am //

      Actually, it’s very sad that certain people here in the United States feel they have the right to bash those particular people who speak out about the racism, inequality, and abuse of citizens’ rights which continue to plague this country. How can this country possibly begin to improve itself if nobody speaks out about its numerous and enormous problems?

    • Vart, I think that if everyone left America when they found something disagreeable about it, it would be very sad. One can love America, yet speak out about the ways it lacks. It should be a moral duty of every citizen or resident to criticize ones country if one so chooses. As for attacking other commentators, if they attack the writer of the article, they should be ok for being attacked as well. Especially if their implicit message is that blacks are lazy, while Armenians are hard-working. There’s a word for that kind of thinking.

  33. avatar Eric Lencher // November 17, 2015 at 1:30 am // Reply

    Officer Wilson wasn’t indicted because his shooting of Brown was justified. Nobody here has read the US Department of Justice report, or the evidence uncovered during their investigation, otherwise you wouldn’t be posting this!
    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/11/25/us/evidence-released-in-michael-brown-case.html?_r=0

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*