Let’s start the year off by venting so the irritation doesn’t affect productivity for the rest of 2018.
First off, I’ll vent at myself for my own imprecision. It seems I “skipped” in my count so that “Irritants XIX” never appeared. I despise making silly, minor errors such as these. I apologize to everyone, especially if you actually noticed the miscounting. I wonder: Should I try to prevail on my editors to change the online versions of the misnumbered piece?*
Getting far more serious, I came across a news item from Azerbaijan’s Trend news agency announcing the establishment of the California Azerbaijan Friendship Association (CAFA). It’s billed as “the first ever organization uniting the vibrant Azerbaijani community of the U.S. State of California as well as friends of Azerbaijan.” How hokey!
But, this type of organization, if it really is, or becomes, grassroots, could present a problem, depending on the direction it takes. We’ve had a longstanding policy, very reasonably and unavoidably crafted, that when Turkish or Azeri groups form in the U.S., composed of locals, there’s nothing we will do or say unless they act in specifically anti-Armenian ways. After all, there’s such a thing as freedom of association in the U.S. (unlike the territories over which Ankara and Baku hold sway). But, given the history of Turkic groups’ activities in the U.S., I have no doubt that this group, like most of the others, is instigated by a foreign government (Azerbaijan) to pursue its propaganda purposes.
Isn’t it “interesting” that the launch was in Los Angeles, and several elected officials attended and even spoke? Others sent the typical congratulatory letters and certificates. Many of them are people who are also supported by Armenians. We should be whispering in their ears to be leery of the group.
We can transition from the U.S. and Azerbaijan by noting what the former’s president has done for a colleague of his, Turkey’s president. One of the side effects of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is that it gives Erdoğan another opportunity to look good by slamming the move, to both his own, in-country constituency and the broader international community. Just what we need, another opportunity to inflate his ego.
Also in the U.S.-Turkey idiocy category is the reduction in the charges and penalties faced by the Turks who mercilessly beat protesters during Erdoğan’s visit to Washington D.C. in May of 2017. It’s quite common for people arrested during demonstrations to be obscenely overcharged—then let off with some minor fine or absolutely nothing. But this was different. The perps were not simply acting on their First Amendment rights. Rather, they were brutally preventing others from doing so. The physical-damage injuries, plus the fact that many were part of a foreign dignitary’s entourage, render the whole mess very different from the “typical” arrests made at protests. It’s despicable that these people are going to get off so easily.
In Turkey proper, we have the ongoing farce of government interference in the Armenian patriarchal election through the conduit of the former Locum Tenens, Archbishop Aram Ateshian. This clergyman has seen fit to sell himself to the Turkish state in his pursuit of securing the title of Patriarch. Meanwhile, this same government continues its illegal presence in Syria. This is bad whether you look at it from a strictly legal point of view, or from the perspective of Syria’s Kurds whose ability to consolidate their cantons is what the Turks want to disrupt, or from the vantage point of the Armenian community, whose largest concentration is in Aleppo, very near where the Turkish forces are to be found. But, neither Russia nor the U.S., or even Europe and its constituent powers, seem to give a damn.
Returning now to irritants from daily life, don’t you just love being on hold with some outfit for forty-seven-and-a-half minutes and hearing, every other minute or two, a recording about how committed it is to customer service? The utter contempt for people and their time betrayed by this behavior is unfathomably obnoxious, especially when the “customer” has no remaining options because the outfit has failed to do its job despite repeated reminders through its regular, electronic channels.
Since we’re back in the U.S., it would be unforgivable not to note that Roy Moore, the pedophile Alabama candidate for a U.S. Senate seat, had the temerity to file a lawsuit alleging election irregularities in an attempt to prevent his opponent, the winner Doug Jones, from being certified and taking his seat in the Senate. How utterly shameless. If this weren’t over, Moore might have become a contender for the SpitRain Award. Luckily, a judge quickly smacked down his overt attempt to pervert the will of Alabama’s voters.
Finally, I want to request that readers and others stop accusing me of having supported Hillary Clinton in the previous presidential election. I feel compelled to express my irritation about this because both on Facebook and in comments under other articles, that assertion is made just because I happen to criticize Donald Trump. I keep getting advice to “get over it” since “Hillary lost”—as if my criticizing Trump’s current actions and spouting off somehow equate to my advocating that his losing opponent replace him! It’s plain ridiculous and annoying, at least, and distracting from relevant, important current and ongoing issues, at worst.
*Editor’s note: Don’t count on it, Garen!