Turks Rebuke School Genocide Classes

Just when you think life has dealt you a pat hand, along comes a conniver to steal your pot.

For the past four years, members of our Armenian Genocide Education Committee of Merrimack Valley have filtered in and out of high schools north of Boston.

We’ve also expanded our reach to include schools around Greater Boston like Newton South. Scores of children have benefitted from our lessons. In most every case, instructors have been overwhelmed by the impact being made, for they, too, come out learning a valuable lesson in history.

There hasn’t been one repercussion, not even a grunt from a naysayer—until now. A vile and vindictive article from a pro-Turkish website (History of Truth) crossed my eyes bearing the headline: “Armenians Spreading Their Lies at High Schools.”

The gutless piece failed to carry a byline, thus making it more intolerable.

What’s more, a photograph of Wilmington High students holding samples of postage stamps they had designed carried the inscription: “Their Lies Reached to Schools.”

The group photo also had the two presenters that day, myself and Albert S. Movsesian. The ideas for a postage stamp were being sent to the postmaster general of the United States in an effort to get a commemorative stamp minted for the 100th anniversary in 2015.

A completely harmless project meant to both elucidate and arouse our younger non-Armenian population was slurred with malice.

The rebuttal was generated in response to an all-encompassing piece written by chairman Dro Kanayan giving readers a fairly detailed account of the progress made in schools this year. How effective has it been?

While attending a grand niece‘s Chelmsford High graduation party the week before, I approached a table occupied by students who had been addressed during a genocide class taught by Jennifer Doak.

“Hey, you look familiar. Aren’t you the guy who spoke to us about the Armenian Genocide?” a co-ed remarked.

“Yes, that’s me,” I replied. “What do you remember most about the class?”

“How difficult it was for your race to be slaughtered like that,” she replied. “We loved the story about the Calvin Coolidge Orphan Rug and how it found its way to the White House.”

The article goes go to say that the “Armenian Diaspora is spreading its lies by telling them at high schools.”

The next paragraph quoted Kanayan’s story: “Armenian researcher Dro Kanayan said for those people who feel that our elders and the youth cannot work together, don’t worry. Kanayan and both of his peers, Albert Movsesian and Tom Vartabedian, have been working together to have the so-called Armenian Genocide included in the high school curriculum on Human Rights in the Merrimack Valley.”

“They are teaching students about the so-called Armenian Genocide and Armenian culture.”

The story went on to say how we have “poisoned” the students in over 10 high schools, providing individual classroom presentation on comparative genocides over the past 100 years.

It proceeded to include other high school students, including a deaf student we encountered at Newton South who had learned about the genocide through American Sign Language.

Adding more insult to injury, a second photo was used of Dro Kanayan holding a picture of his famous grandfather General Dro, who led the siege at Bash Abaran during World War I.

I should be fuming over such poppycock. Instead, I hold no regret over those who are ill-informed and continue to show their absurdity. The more Turkey refutes historical fact, the more scornful it becomes.

The more truth will prevail and people will see how superficial the Turkish government continues to remain. What people lack in intelligence, they usually make up for in stupidity.

I recall once how vandals had climbed to the top of a billboard in Watertown and defaced a genocide sign that had been sponsored by activist/artist Daniel Varoujan Hejinian. For years, Hejinian has been putting up these notices to draw attention during April 24th.

For the most part, the Armenian papers publicized the act, but it also caught the attention of the American press, which matters more. The fact that some screwball scaled a building at night to commit an act of degradation suddenly became media hype. It appeared in newspapers and television networks, giving the Armenian Genocide more exposure than normal.

During a commemoration that week in Merrimack Valley, a local priest approached the podium and talked about the insanity.

“If that’s the way our genocide is going to catch the outside public’s eye, then let the billboards be vandalized,” he lashed out. “And let those responsible find guilt in the process.”

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Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly, where his pet project was the publication of a special issue of the AYF Olympics each September.
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8 Comments

  1. Oh i am not surprised that these idiotic rebuttals will come out of woodworks eventually… because you know why?????? Mr. Vartabedian said it very well…

    “What people lack in intelligence, they usually make up for in stupidity” and we obviously witness this type of stupidity and violence from the turks ….because they are oblivious of what the truth entails.. and they are continueing their denial that their monster govt is spreading and to this day continues to lie about the Ottoman Turks genocide of the Western and Eastern Armenians…

    however, as Mr. Vartabedian said.. the more they react, the better for us… let them create attention by their stupidity.. it is us who are benefiting.. and they are going down the poo poo drain every day with their acts….

    Good job Mr. Vartabedian and those who work hard to spread the education in our schools.. it is our job to implement programs in schools where the education starts… turkish govt is doing just that but unfortunately they are teaching hate and violence to their future generations….it is absolutey sad… but we already know the turkish govt’s nature so no surprise there.. lets us teach our kids the history, the truth, but at the same time we have been neighbors and not ALL turks are monsters… we need to teach our children that here are the facts and what can we be done to eliminate future genocides…. something turkey can’t provide to their schools…

    Good day

    Gayane

  2. Tom, first of all I congratulate for your activities, and Boston Armenians in their precious works.
    However, Turkuish shameless reaction to not only Armenian Genocide issues but to anything Armenian is part of our destiny, we like it or hate it. I actually think Turkish denialist reaction not only emphasizes whatever we do, it also encourages us to do even more!

    Let’s beat all drums of international challange to the Genocider on run!
    We shouldn’t waste any opportunity while the time is ripe!

  3. The operator of that Turkish site is a Turkish ultranationalist racist individual that goes by the name of Ergun Kirlikovali. His entire essence is filled with hatred against Armenians. On one hand he is just a dog barking, on the other hand his writings provide enough evidence of hate mongering that as an American citizen he could (and should) face a criminal court. Hopefully one day an Armenian American can sue him for defamation and spread of racist ideology in the US.

    • He’s not just any old Turkish Racist.

      He’s also the President of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations, and is buddy-buddy with US politicians, industrial types here, all kinds of folks. So, this means he represents a lot of the Turk Diaspora in this country. Shame on them.

  4. Mr. Vartabedian,

    I came across that article on that horrendous website as well and it was very infuriating to. One could taste the hatred that behind the words in that article. But one can’t let it get to you.

    The bigger issue is that whenever I search for Armenian news on news.google.com, that website comes up quite often. It’s not a news site, it a propaganda and denialist website. It should not be coming up on the google’s news aggregation service. It seems to come up more often that mainstream Turkish websites. I don’t know how they’ve rigged the site for google’s algorithms to consider it highly relevant for Armenian news, but I think something needs to be done about it. Anyone know how to complain about this to google?

    • RA,
      SEO (search engine optimization) is very common in the practice of getting business’ up front in Goggle searches. However Google needs to be contacted as they do have ruled banning hatred..

    • The case needs to be made to google to drop that site from their news aggregation. Anyone know what’s the best way to method to contacting google?

  5. Its every Armenian’s duty to fight Armenian Genocide denialism at every instance.. These people murdered our grandparents and stole everything and then are equally diligent in the efforts to hide the truth every chance they can to avoid the justice that is due. These people are nothing more then murderers, thieves and liars..

    GOOGLE NEEDS TO BE CONTACTED BY ALL ARMENIANS AND TOLD OF THIS DENIALIST WEB SIGHT THAT CLEARLY GOES AGAINST THEIR ANTI-HATRED POLICIES.

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