Bleak & Bright

In Yerevan, we have the bleakness of a stolen election, politely and preemptively, of course, but stolen nevertheless.

In Glendale, we have the bleakness of some Armenians running as spoilers, and some political factions working to keep Armenians down.

In Burbank, we have the bleakness of overt hate fueled by ignorance; see the accompanying transcript of a telephone message received by Armond Aghakhanian’s campaign for school board.

In the diaspora, we have the bleakness of a severe disconnectedness with the civic/electoral/political reality of the Republic of Armenia. I am just as guilty as anyone, in this respect. Can you think of anything significant I’ve written over the course of the last half-a-year during which the presidential campaign played out there?

All the vile people who are responsible for these sad states of affairs should beware. Their time is short. Why?

In Yerevan, there are bright spots. People voted in very significant numbers (if not a stolen majority) for Raffi Hovannisian to become president. And, they’re now making an issue of the rigged election results by standing up, firmly, for their rights as citizens.

In Glendale, there are bright spots. Decent, thinking people, Armenian or not, are coming together to work for the election of the best candidates, regardless of the desires of some machinators with outsized egos and a desire to control political life in the city.

In Burbank, there are bright spots. Armenian residents are voting at above average rates in very difficult, competitive races for city council, school board, and city clerk. To the best of my knowledge, the candidates, whether supported by the Burbank ANCA or not, do not harbor anti-Armenian sentiments. Those who have learned about the message received by Armond’s campaign were quite shocked. And, there is progress in the Burbank police department where anti-Armenian attitudes are being slowly eliminated.

In the diaspora, there are bright spots. People are speaking up about the unacceptable electoral behavior of the power elites. There was even a demonstration yesterday, in Glendale, in front of the Consulate General of the Republic of Armenia. Ever so slowly, people are getting over their fear of “airing our dirty laundry in public,” and seeing the value and effectiveness of letting the sun shine in on the dark activities of those corrupting our fledgling republic.

Keep fighting the bleakness with the brightness of engagement and action.

Text of telephone message

Yes, good day to you. I was trying to reach Lori Adams. Since she sent me a letter in the mail endorsing (cough) Armond, Armond for Burbank teachers (uhh) school board.

And (umm) I just wanted to say (umm) please don’t forward me anymore mail regarding such a candidate. Especially (umm) for someone here in Burbank. And I, and I will tell you for the reason why.

Umm I don’t understand why Armenians think they have the right to run for government government positions.

They’re not, they’re not, indigenous and native to this country. And also they’re the freaking of America.

I mean they have refugee status. They get section 8 housing to pay for their rent. They get small business loans to pay for their businesses. They get grants to go to school so they can become dentists and pharmacists. Then they get food stamps, they load them up with (umm) 300, 400 dollars of groceries. And then they schlepp themselves into $80,000 Mercedes they didn’t earn.

Are you kidding me?!

Are you kidding me?!

So please, please, a vote for you!?

Are you kidding me?!

You’re not a part of America, you’re not a part of the United States.

And if you don’t know your history you should know it.

You were ousted out of Russia, the Armenians were, you went to Turkey, the Turks almost eradicated you, then you went to the Middle East…your…nobody likes you!

And so what makes you think that you even have the audacity to to even be in the United States of America and have a vote?

When you’re the freaking of America.

I am just so insulted!

I am so insulted by this letter!


Garen Yegparian

Asbarez Columnist
Garen Yegparian is a fat, bald guy who has too much to say and do for his own good. So, you know he loves mouthing off weekly about anything he damn well pleases to write about that he can remotely tie in to things Armenian. He's got a checkered past: principal of an Armenian school, project manager on a housing development, ANC-WR Executive Director, AYF Field worker (again on the left coast), Operations Director for a telecom startup, and a City of LA employee most recently (in three different departments so far). Plus, he's got delusions of breaking into electoral politics, meanwhile participating in other aspects of it and making sure to stay in trouble. His is a weekly column that appears originally in Asbarez, but has been republished to the Armenian Weekly for many years.

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  1. Question to Garen Yegparian and readers… have the anti-Armenian attitudes been always this bad? I know there was racism towards Armenians in California in the 20s but I always thought it had gone down after that. It seems to me that it’s been on the uptick within the past 30 years or so.

    As for that voice mail, that woman better be a Native American, because only they can call others non-indigenous to America.

  2. Racism has always existed in the U.S., and there are still anti-Armenian nutjobs who sometimes rear their ugly heads. As Armenians get more organized and savvy in terms of political maturity, and as more Armenians stand up to this kind of stuff, it gets better, and these idiots get their due response. Fortunately, in the United States, we have the mechanisms available in a democratic society to effectively deal with racism, whatever its manifestations. Unlike in Russia, we are certainly not being stabbed by skinheads left and right or stopped in the street by the police for bogus document checks just for being Armenians.

    • Vahagn,

      I suspect some anti-Armenianism happens because the person can’t openly say anything about other groups he/she hates.

      And yes, that’s been the saving grace of the US. The people used the democratic institutions to better the country when it came to racism, women’s issues, enviroment, good business practices and anything else that we see in other countries needing to advance. It’s an ongoing process but the US has shown how to tackle problems and change.

  3. Also, yes there will always be racism if one group is somewhat different from the mainstream. The Irish are one such example. But I get the feeling there has been an increase in anti-Armenian crap lately. Did Deukmejian face any crap like this? I know he was running against Bradley, which probably meant he was attracting most of the racism.

  4. Re: Random Armenian comment ” As for that voice mail, that woman better be a Native American, because only they can call others non-indigenous to America.”

    I disagree in twofold. Firstly, even Native Americans or colloquial but ambiguously named the American Indians can’t be called indigenous since everyone who migrated to the Americas is by definition an immigrant. No one is indigenous since all Homo Sapiens originated from the African Savanna.
    Secondly, even if Native Americans are construed as being indigenous, that in and of itself does not give them carte blanche to label others as outsiders, foreigners, immigrants or otherwise; because that is racist and bigoted.

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