ASBAREZ Online [09-09-2005]

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09/09/2005
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1) Armenian Americans Join Diverse Anti-Genocide Coalition in Marking `A Day
for Darfur” at White House Rally
2) Armenia Denies Killing Azeri Soldier in Karabakh
3) Catholicos to Give Major Los Angeles Address before World Affairs Council
4) Federal, State, Local Legislators Set to Attend ANCA-WR Annual Banquet
5) AYF Eastern Region Calls for End to Azeri Military Aggression Against
Karabagh
6) Hamazkayin Honors `Massis’
7) Street Beat Armenia to Promote SOAD’s `Mezmerize’
8) Over 40 Young Armenian American Professionals Participate in ANC
Professional Network’s Inaugural Summer Trip to Armenia
9) Anjar during the Second World War
10) Critics’ Forum, Visual Arts¬†
11) WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THE REAL AMERICA?

1) Armenian Americans Join Diverse Anti-Genocide Coalition in Marking `A Day
for Darfur” at White House Rally

ANCA Calls on 1,000 Activists to Work to End the Cycle of Genocide

WASHINGTON, DC–Armenian Americans on Tursday, a thousand activists brought
together by Africa Action and a broad-based coalition of religious, ethnic,
and
human rights groups at a White House rally calling for decisive US action to
end the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, reported the Armenian National
Committee of America (ANCA.)
The demonstration marked a year of inaction by the Administration following
the
President’s declaration that a genocide is taking place in Darfur. The aim of
the gathering was to kick off a period of renewed activism by people of
conscience across the country to encourage the President to take every step
necessary to ensure an urgent multinational intervention to provide
security to
the people of Darfur. To date, over 400,000 people have been killed; hundreds
are dying every day and hundreds of thousands more are at risk in the coming
weeks and months unless urgent action is taken.
ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian, in his remarks at the close of the
program, stressed that:
“If we have learned anything in the year since the President declared that
genocide is taking place in Darfur… If we have learned anything from a century
of genocide–in Armenia, during the Holocaust, in Cambodia, Rwanda and
today in
Darfur–it is that having the facts on your side is not enough. We have seen
400,000 deaths, 2.5 million displaced. But the facts are not enough.”
“Having morality on your side is not enough, for what could be a greater moral
imperative than our nation working to prevent genocide?”
“The fact is that it will take advocacy, it will take organization–sustained
organization–if we are to live in a nation that does not measure our
interests
in dollars, barrels of oil, or military bases, but rather in lives saved,
suffering alleviated, and humanity served.”
Several speakers, notably Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, General Secretary of the
National Council of Churches, Ruth Messinger, President of American Jewish
World Service, and Salih Booker, the Executive Director of Africa Action noted
the Armenian Genocide in their remarks.
Among the media assigning reporters and film crews to cover the event were
CNN,
Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, NBC news, MTVu, Nippon TV (Japan),
Inter Press Service, ARD TV (Germany), Voice of America, Radio France
International and Yahoo News.
Salih Booker, Executive Director of Africa Action, said today, “As Americans
struggle to cope with the President’s failure of leadership on the domestic
front in the horrific aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we must also condemn the
President’s failure of political leadership on the international front, where
he has failed to act to stop the ongoing genocide in Darfur, and the death
toll
continues to mount.”
Speakers and activists at today’s event emphasized the urgent need for
protection for the people of Darfur, and called on President Bush to take
every
step necessary to ensure an immediate multinational intervention to support
the
African Union and provide security to Darfur.
Ruth Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service, said, “As Jews who
understand the consequences of silence and indifference in the face of
genocide, we must respond to the crisis in Darfur and increase pressure on the
international community to end the violence and suffering. No-one can stand
silently by.”
Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of
Churches, said, “It is unacceptable for us to sit idly by as people die. This
is true whether it is in the Deep South or Darfur, Sudan. This genocide is one
of the greatest horrors of our day. We urge people of conscience everywhere to
call on our leaders to take action now before events force us to one day have
to confess our sin of negligence and complicity.”
Today’s event also saw the release of a petition signed by over 100,000
Americans, calling on the President to act urgently to provide protection to
the people of Darfur. Across the country, citizen engagement on the crisis in
Darfur continues to grow, as Americans raise their voices to emphasize that
genocide cannot be ignored.
Rev. Jim Wallis, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sojourners Magazine, said
today, “People of faith are united in their call for bold and immediate
Presidential leadership in order to restore hope and security to the people of
Darfur. Now is the time to put real meaning behind the words ‘never again’.”
Fatima Haroun of the Sudan Peace Advocates Network said today, “The people of
Darfur have suffered more than enough already. It is time for international
action to stop the violence and bring relief and peace to this troubled
region.”
David Rubenstein, Coordinator of the Save Darfur Coalition, said today, “The
Save Darfur Coalition’s 134 member organizations represent more than 130
million Americans. We call on President Bush–one year after he recognized the
genocide in Darfur–to take decisive and effective action to end the violence
that is brutalizing innocent civilians in Darfur.”
Among the groups working with the ANCA in this Africa Action-led initiative
were: American Jewish World Service, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America,
Faithful America, Greater Washington Jewish Task Force on Darfur, NAACP,
National Council of Churches, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Save
Darfur Coalition, Sojourners, STAND, Sudan Peace Advocates Network,
TransAfrica
Forum, and the United Methodist Church.
Following the rally, organization leaders gathered at the ANCA headquarters
for
a reception. That same evening, the Lutheran Church of the Reformation
hosted a
candle-light vigil marking the one-year anniversary of the Bush
Administration’s statement on Darfur.
For more information about Darfur:
<;
To send a free ANCA WebFax protesting the Darfur Genocide:
<;http://www.a nca.org

2) Armenia Denies Killing Azeri Soldier in Karabakh

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Armenia’s defense ministry denied Azeri news reports
that
an Azeri soldier had been killed in a skirmish with Armenian forces in
Mountainous Karabagh on September 7.
The Azerbaijan ANS channel had reported that Azeri army positions near a
village in the northern section of the frontline around had Karabagh came
under
`intensive’ automatic gunfire from Armenian troops. It said sounds of
explosion
could also be heard in the area.
But Senior Hasratian from Armenian defense ministry’s new and information
department denied the allegations, describing the report as an attempt to stir
the situation. He stressed that the Armenian troops of Karabagh have observed
the truce.

3) Catholicos to Give Major Los Angeles Address before World Affairs Council

Speech Will Focus on the Future of Christianity in the Middle East

LOS ANGELES–Joining a long list of Presidents, Prime Ministers and global
leaders, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, will
speak before the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on October 14, 2005. The
Pontiff’s remarks will focus on Christianity in the Middle East and the
current
challenges facing inter-religious dialogue in the region. The speech will be
timely, given the historic events in Iraq and the current turmoil with respect
to the United States’ foreign policy in the Middle East.
“The dramatic events unfolding in Iraq and around the Middle East place a new
imperative before Christian communities in the region and globally,” remarked
His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian of the Western Prelacy. “For
thousands of years Armenian communities and the Armenian church have been an
important part of the fabric and history of the region providing a unique
perspective.” The Prelacy is sponsoring the Pontifical visit of His Holiness
Aram I during which many of these critical issues will be discussed.
The World Affairs Council luncheon speech, which is open to the public,
will be
held at the historic Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles and will attract
political, civic and religious leaders from across the State of California and
Los Angeles. “We are honored and fortunate to have the opportunity to hear His
Holiness Aram I share his views and knowledge about the many critical issues
confronting the Middle East,” said J. Curtis Mack, II, President of the World
Affairs Council. “There is a dire need to have greater dialogue during these
historical times and we are pleased to provide the forum to further greater
understanding of the region and the role the Armenian communities play.”
The council’s mission is to promote greater understanding of current global
issues and their impact on the people of Southern California by inviting
authoritative, influential figures in world affairs to Los Angeles and
providing a forum for constructive discussion. US Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld recently spoke at a luncheon sponsored by the Council, and the
President of the Polish Republic, His Excellency Aleksander Kwasniewski, is
slated to address the Council later this month.
For more information or to RSVP for this historic event please call (213)
628-2333. Table for this event are available for $400 (individual tickets $40)
and will not be made on the day of the event.

4) Federal, State, Local Legislators Set to Attend ANCA-WR Annual Banquet

–Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to give special remarks at organization’s gala
event

LOS ANGELES, CAThe Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region
(ANCA-WR) announced on Friday that a distinguished list of elected officials
will attend the 2005 ANCA-WR Annual Banquet on September 18th at the
Renaissance Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles. This year, Congressman Ed Royce
and
State Senator Jackie Speier will be honored for their long-lasting support of
issues of concern to the Armenian American community. Alex Sardar, who served
as the ANCA-WR’s Executive Director from 2000 to 2002 and is currently the
Armenia Country Director for Counterpart and Chief of Party for the
organization’s Civic Advocacy Support Program USAID grant, will be the Master
of Ceremonies of the event.  
Among the officials who have confirmed their attendance are Representatives
Howard Berman and Diane Watson, California State Board of Supervisor Claude
Parrish, California State Senators Joseph Dunn and Liz Figueroa, California
State Assemblymembers Rudy Bermudez, Ronald Calderon, Judy Chu, Dario Frommer,
Jerome Horton, Shirley Horton, Paul Koretz, Lloyd Levine, Gloria Negrete
McLeod, Cindy Monta√Īez and Keith Stuart Richman, Los Angeles County Board of
Supervisors Michael Antonovich and Zev Yaroslavsky, Newly-elected Mayor of the
City of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles City Councilmembers
Eric
Garcetti, Tom LaBonge, Jan Perry and Dennis Zine, Vice President of the LAUSD
Jon Lauritzen, LAUSD official Robert Collins, Mayor of Glendale Rafi
Manoukian,
and Judges Armand Arabian, Maral Injejikian and Dickran Tevrizian will present
special remarks during the evening’s program.
The ANCA-WR Annual Banquet regularly draws over 700 individuals, including a
long list of dignitaries, such as prominent Members of Congress and state
legislators, as well as a vast number of Armenian American community leaders
and political activists. The annual event is the largest of its kind and helps
raise funds to operate the nation’s largest and most influential Armenian
American grassroots and political advocacy organization. More honorees are to
be announced in the coming weeks before the annual banquet.
For more information on this year’s ANCA-WR Annual Banquet, or to reserve a
table, call the ANCA-WR office at (818) 500 – 1918.

5) AYF Eastern Region Calls for End to Azeri Military Aggression Against
Karabagh

Organization Leads Protest in Front of Azeri Embassy in Washington, DC

WATERTOWN–Over 150 Armenian-Americans gathered in front of the Azerbaijan
Embassy in Washington, DC on September 1 to call attention to ongoing threats
by Azerbaijani government officials to use military force to deny
self-determination to the people of Karabagh. The protest was organized by the
Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Eastern United States.
For over an hour, demonstrators marched holding placards that read
“Self-Determination=Human Rights,” “No More Blood for Oil,” and “Aliyev, Stop
Threatening War,” reminding the world that Azerbaijan’s government killed
thousands of Armenians in Sumgait and Baku, ethnically cleansing thousands
more
throughout Azerbaijan.
Protesters from various parts of the US spoke out against Azerbaijani
President
Ilham Aliyev’s threat to resume war against Karabagh.
In his keynote address, AYF New Jersey chapter alumnus Ken Sarajian said, “I
come today with three messages for you. I speak first to the United States and
friends of peace, second to the AYF to say that I am proud of you. Third, to
the Azerbaijanis sitting there in that building; why do I stand here with a
microphone and speak? So that maybe they will listen. Why? Because when we
speak in peace talks, they do not listen. I speak now so that all can here.
Democracy speaks of self determination, not of we will not yield land.
“Some will ask, why don’t we negotiate? We are willing to talk peacefully with
anyone, but we are not willing to give up rights.”
Other speakers at the protest included AYF Eastern Region chairman Antranig
Kzirian and Armenian National Committee (ANC) Eastern Region executive
director
Doug Geogerian, who both spoke about Karabagh’s right to self-determination
and
how Armenians should not stand for Azerbaijan’s militantly aggressive
threats.
Providence AYF member Garine Palandjian spoke about her experiences this
summer
in Karabagh, while Sossi Essajanian from the Greater Boston chapter read
accounts from survivors and victims of the 1988 Sumgait and 1990 Baku
massacres
by Azeris.
“I have come here to help get the word out about the Karabagh conflict,
educate
non-Armenians about the ongoing political tensions Armenia has suffered not
only with Azerbaijan, but in the 1915 Armenian genocide,” said Detroit AYF
member Teny Mishigian.
The event took place a day prior to the start 72nd annual AYF Eastern Regional
Olympics in Washington, D.C., where over 2,000 people arrived to
participate in
the games, support their AYF chapters, and enjoy the weekend’s festivities.

6) Hamazkayin Honors `Massis’

Hamazkayin Armenian Cultural And Educational Society announced that under the
auspices of its Central Executive, cartoonist Massis Araradian will be touring
Armenia, Cyprus, Lebanon, and Syria. Organized by Hamazkain’s Armenia and
Lebanon offices, Araradian’s trip is already underway.
Well-known to readers of the Armenian press, Araradian served as Lebanon based
Aztag paper’s resident cartoonist, and from 1977 until today, he collaborates
with Asbarez Daily Newspaper.
During his visits with the public, Araradian will present details about his
trade. His appearances in Armenia include: September 13, meeting with the
Writers Union; September 14, lecture to journalism students at Yerevan State
University; September 15, meeting with editorial staff of `Voznee’ newspaper;
September 20, appearance at the Cultural Academy; September 21,
presentation at
the Photogapher’s Union headquarters. His works will be exhibited at
Hamazkayin
Armenia offices September 23-28. While in Armenia, Araradian is scheduled to
hold several press conferences and live TV interviews.
Festivals in his honor in the Middle East include Beirut, October 7; Nicosia,
October 8, and Aleppo, October 11.

7) Street Beat Armenia to Promote SOAD’s `Mezmerize’

JAA Alumni Group to be Exclusive Promoter of New Album in Armenia
YEREVAN, ARMENIA 
Raging with its hypnotically dark, dense and arty style, “Mezmerize” is System
Of A Down’s (SOAD) recently released third album and perhaps its
hardest-hitting effort to date. With their newest album already topping the
music charts in the United States, members of the band, guitarist/singer Daron
Malakian, singer Serj Tankian, bass player Shavo Odadjian, and drummer John
Dolmayan, are looking to unleash Mezmerize in Armenia.
SOAD approached Street Beat Armenia, comprised of members of Junior
Achievement
Alumni of Armenia, to take the lead in promoting Mezmerize in the homeland.
Armed with SOAD CDs, t-shirts, posters, signs, stickers, and stencils, Street
Beat Armenia will be the exclusive promoter of Mezmerize in the Republic
and is
currently preparing to launch a media blitz of Armenia’s television and radio
stations.
Robert Shahnazarian, Manager of Core Production at Sony BMG Music
Entertainment, is working with Tankian to record a series of exclusive
interviews that will be distributed by Street Beat Armenia to major radio and
television stations in Yerevan. The interviews will feature Tankian
speaking in
Armenian and discussing details of the band’s most recent venture and future
plans.  Promotion efforts also will include distributing printed materials in
towns and cities in each region of the Republic as well as college and
university campuses.
“We truly appreciate the opportunity that the band is giving our alumni to
utilize the lessons learned in our classes through this real-life
experience in
marketing and teamwork. System of a Down is very popular in Armenia and have
worked hard to gain recognition of the Armenian Genocide,” comments JAA
Executive Director Armine Hovannisian.
In 2002, Ani Movsisyan, President of Junior Achievement Alumni of Armenia,
spearheaded an effort modeled after Streetwise in the US to bring the
extraordinary music and unique message of SOAD to the forefront in Armenia.
With guidance from Shahnazarian and underwriting from JAA Founder Cynthia
Tusan, Movsisyan and other JAA graduates together formed Street Beat Armenia.
They toured radio and television stations in Yerevan, distributing
information,
CDs and posters of the band. The stations quickly embraced SOAD and began
giving more airtime to its music. Street Beat Armenia’s biggest break came
when
it was interviewed on Armenia’s public television station.
“It was such a challenging and, at the same time, exciting task. Being novices
at promoting, we were quick to learn the great art of persuasion. We worked
hard to reach our target audience and developed a message that was engaging
and
informative. Getting in contact with radio and TV stations, scheduling and
conducting meetings, and relating SOAD’s history and international popularity
were all thrilling and rewarding experiences,” shares Movsisyan.
Tusan points out that “Junior Achievement’s mission is all about providing our
youth in Armenia with meaningful entrepreneurial experiences.” She goes on to
say, “The formation of Street Beat Armenia is exactly that. This year, Margrit
Shahnazarian, who originally came up with the name ‘Street Beat Armenia’ in
2002, is our volunteer Project Coordinator. She will maintain close contact
with the team to provide guidance in executing the media blitz and to
facilitate communication with the band.”
Established in 1992, Junior Achievement of Armenia is dedicated to promoting
free market economics, democratic governance, social responsibility and
ethical
business practices in the Republic of Armenia through economic and civic
education. With courses in every high school in the country, JAA-trained
educators now reach 170,000 students in Armenia each year. Nearly 20% of the
total population of Armenia has now taken a JAA course. For additional
information, call (818) 753-4997 or visit
<;

8) Over 40 Young Armenian American Professionals Participate in ANC
Professional Network’s Inaugural Summer Trip to Armenia

YEREVAN, ARMENIA  As part of its ongoing objective to develop activities and
programs that promote the growth of young Armenian American professionals and
strong leaders, the Armenian National Committee-Professional Network (ANC-PN)
hosted its inaugural Summer Trip to Armenia.  Over 40 young Armenian American
professionals from across the nation embarked on the 13-day trip, which
traversed the Republics of Armenia and Mountainous Karabagh Republic.
The participants boarded planes destined for the Republic of Armenia on
Wednesday, August 10, and arrived in Yerevan at Zvartnotz International
Airport
late Thursday evening.  While in Armenia, they visited the sites of the Khor
Virab Monastery, Dzidzernagapert, the Madenataran, Yeraplur National Cemetery,
Etchmiadzin, Sardarabad, the temple of Garni, the Geghart Monastery and Mayr
Hayastan Monument. The participants also toured the famous Kotayk Beer and
Ararat Cognac factories.
ANC-PN trip participants attended a reception organized by the Armenian
Revolutionary Federation (ARF) in honor of the Chairman of the Democratic
Party, Howard Dean. Also present was Los Angeles City Councilman Eric
Garcetti.
The group of young professionals spent the evening conversing with the US
delegation, as well as expatriates and leaders from the local community.
A major highlight of the trip was a three day sight seeing excursion to
Mountainous Karabagh.  On the way, the group made a lunch stop in Ghapan,
Sister City to Glendale–home to many of the participants. While in Artsakh,
the participants attended a dinner hosted by the ARF and visited the
Parliament
House, various churches, mosques, fortresses, museums, and monuments situated
in the cities of Shushi, Stepanakert, Aghdam.
The Mountainous Karabagh excursion included a significant visit to the village
of Ashan, located in the Martuni region, where funds raised from ANC-PN’s 2004
Christmas Party were used to improve and renew one of the Armenian Relief
Society’s Sosseh schools.
On their return to Yerevan, the participants attended a forum organized by the
ANC-PN, titled `Business in Armenia for Diasporans.’ Among the contributors to
the forum were Vicken Arabian, representing Yerkir USA organization, and Alex
Sardar is USAID’s Chief of Party for its Civic Advocacy Support Program.
`I thought the forum was informative, motivational, and touching. It is
remarkable how the diasporan community has contributed to their homeland by
moving to Armenia and working there. They are pioneers for those of us who are
starting to see the big picture,’ stated Arbi Karapetian, a trip participant.
After 10 days of traveling, eating, dancing, learning, and bonding, the group
returned home on August 22. 
Encouraged by the positive feedback from trip participants, ANC-PN has already
begun planning for 2006, which promises to build on the successes of this
year’s trip.
In her remarks regarding the trip, ANC-PN President Jeannine Topalian said, `A
lot of hard work and planning went towards making this endeavor as successful
as it could possibly be. I am pleased to see that it did just that by yielding
such positive results.’
`The Republics of both Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh are wondrous places. I had
the time of my life there. I saw and learned much and made a number of
cherished new friends along the way. It is an amazing and life-altering
experience for one to return to their ancestral homeland. I thank the ANC-PN
for affording me the opportunity to do so. I can hardly wait till next year’s
trip,’ commented Steve Torossian, another participant.
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most
influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in
coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout
the
United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively
advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of
issues.

9) Anjar during the Second World War

By Naira Der Kiureghian

The village of Anjar, Lebanon, was established in 1939 when 6000 Armenian
inhabitants of Musa Dagh, in the then-Syrian province of Alexandretta, carried
out a mass exodus from their historic homeland, under the auspices of the
French.  In the years preceding the outbreak of the Second World War with
Adolf
Hitler’s invasion of Poland in September 1939, France ceded the Syrian Sanjak
of Alexendretta to Turkey in the hopes of securing the former German ally as a
partner against the new Axis threat.  As a result, thousands of Arabs,
Armenians, Circassians and others opposed to living under Turkish rule left
their homes with the belief that they would one day return.  Unlike the other
immigrants, the inhabitants of Musa Dagh relocated as a community to Anjar,
Lebanon, where they were cared for by the French authorities.  Because of
their
close relationship to France and the assistance they received, the story of
the
Armenians of the six villages of Musa Dagh is a unique narrative of
resettlement during World War II.
French ties to the Armenian population of Alexandretta predated the Mandate
era.  During the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923, the Armenians from the
villages of Musa Dagh resisted deportation by waging a resistance movement
against the Ottoman army.  As a result, approximately 5000 Armenians left
their
homes and sought refuge in the mountain of Musa.  The siege lasted nearly
forty
days, at the end of which they faced near extermination due to lack of food
and
ammunition.  After attracting the attention of a French ship, the Armenian
population was rescued and taken to a refugee camp in Port Said, Egypt. 
Shortly after the population had settled into refugee camps in Port Said, 600
Musa Daghtsi men volunteered for the French Foreign Legion as part of the
L√©gion d’Orient, which was “composed overwhelmingly of former Armenian
subjects
of the Ottoman Empire.” The participation of the Armenians in the L√©gion
d’Orient was instrumental in winning the Battle of Arara in Palestine against
the Ottoman forces in 1918.  
After the establishment of the French Mandate in Syria and Lebanon, the
Armenians returned to their homes in Musa Dagh in 1919.  While under French
dominion, the Armenians of Alexandretta experienced an exception to the vast
majority of Western Armenian history.  Having survived the Genocide, the
Armenians of Alexandretta were able to return to their historical homeland and
traditional communities.  In contrast, over a million other Armenian subjects
of Ottoman Turkey were expelled from their homes, initiating a new chapter in
Western Armenian history characterized by poverty, immigration, alienation and
diaspora.  Furthermore, traditional elements of cultural distinction between
different Armenian localities, (i.e. regional dialects) began to diminish as a
result of the upheaval of the Genocide and the ensuing mixing of communities. 
In contrast, the Armenians of Musa Dagh were able to return to their villages
and were spared, for the time being, the perils of immigration and
resettlement. 
During the French Mandate in Syria, the Turkish government was aggressively
pursuing a claim for the province of the Sanjak of Alexandretta. Throughout
the
1920s and 1930s, Turkey petitioned France for greater influence in the region,
in the name of guaranteeing the rights of ethnic Turks of Alexandretta, 
and to
secure the province’s autonomy within Syria. With the passing of time,
Turkey’s
demands increased and France succumbed by making concessions.  In
opposition to
these Turkish advances, hundreds of Arab, Armenian, Alawi and Greek
inhabitants
of Alexandretta held a mass protest against Turkish acquisition of the region
in Antioch under the leadership of Ba’ath Party founder, Zaki al-Arsuzi on
January 8, 1937. Their calls for continued union with Syria were unheeded by
the Mandatatory Power.¬† By 1939, France’s concerns centered on the rise of
Nazi
Germany and the French position in the Eastern Mediterranean. Thus, in an
effort to keep Turkey as an ally, France consented to the final cession of
Alexandretta to Turkey in an agreement on June 23, 1939.  The agreement was
clearly in violation of international law which forbade the Mandatory Power
from altering the boundaries of the mandated territory. However, France
provided the inhabitants of Alexandretta with the option of obtaining Syrian
and Lebanese citizenship and relocating with all their “movable property to
their new homes” within the first six months after the “entry into force of
the
agreement.”
>From July 1-23, 1939, 30,000 Armenians, in addition to 20,000 other
Alexandrettans, began a mass exodus from their homes to Syria and Lebanon. Due
to their unique relationship with the French authorities during the resistance
of World War I, the Musa Dagh Armenians received special provisions from the
French Mandate stating that they would be provided for with land and homes for
a community of their own in Lebanon.  Land in the Biqaa Valley purchased
from a
local Turkish bey by the French was to be appropriated for the settlement of
the Musa Dagh Armenians.  As a result, the Musa Dagh community was able to
stay
intact in spite of two migrations.  This paper seeks to create an
understanding
of the experiences of this migration and the creation of the village of Anjar
as remembered by those who lived through the events.
Once the cession was ratified, the vast majority of the Armenian residents of
Musa Dagh chose relocation instead of living under Turkish rule.  The nine
survivors interviewed for the purposes of this paper, ranging from ages
five to
35 in 1939, did not mention any indecision, either on their part or on the
part
of their elders, concerning the choice to leave their homes.  The interviewees
did not consider living under Turkish dominion again to be a feasible option. 
They felt they “had to leave at any price,” for fear of Turkish reprisals in
retaliation for the Musa Dagh resistance of 1915.  However, a limited
number of
families belonging to the Social Democratic Hnchak Party chose to stay.  The
interviewees, most of whom associate themselves primarily with the
Dashnaktsutyun (Armenian Revolutionary Federation), attributed the decision of
the Hnchaks to stay to political rivalries.  On more than one occasion, the
interviewees explained the actions of the splinter Hnchaks as an effort to
defy
the Dashnaks who were the dominant political faction in the region. 
The survivors remember leaving with the knowledge that the French authorities
would see to their safety and resettlement in Lebanon and the belief that they
would eventually return to Musa Dagh.  The French provided no such assistance
for the remaining 24,000 Armenians who left their homes in Alexandretta.  When
asked why the Armenians from areas other than Musa Dagh were not given
assistance by the French, the interviewees responded  by citing the volunteer
service of 600 Musa Daghtsi men in the Foreign Legion and their
contribution to
the victory in Arara, Palestine as a justification for their special
treatment.  Interviewees emphasized the respect the French had for the Musa
Daghtsis because of their “heroic fighting.”¬† In addition, the interviewees
pointed out that the community believed its relocation was temporary and that
they would return after the resolution of the international conflict.
In July of 1939, 6000 Musa Dagh Armenians boarded camions with their
belongings
and traveled to Ras al-Bassit, north of the Lebanese-Syrian border, where they
settled into a camp site and awaited their transfer to Tripoli.  Although the
accounts of the survivors concerning the duration of their stay in Ras
al-Bassit range from one to six months, the general consensus points to a stay
of approximately forty days. Several interviewees remember the situation in
the
camp as haphazard and chaotic: one man, age 13 at the time, remembers people
using any material they could find, even “twigs,” to assemble their tents.¬†
Food shortages, lack of water and heavy rains contributed to a decline in the
health of the population.  Dysentery became prevalent, particularly among
young
children.  In response, the Armenian General Benevolent Union established a
hospital in Latakia which admitted over 200 resident patients from this camp. 
Out of 6000 Musa Daghtsis, forty-five perished during their stay in Ras
al-Bassit. During this time, news of the outbreak of World War II reached the
Armenians, resulting in a widespread fear that the French would not be able to
continue their assistance.
An interviewee, aged 16 in 1939, traveled to Bassit on foot, independent from
the camions.  According to him, all those who wanted to bring their livestock
to the new village walked with their animals to Ras al-Bassit along the
Orontes
River (‘Assi Nahr). There they joined the population and traveled by ship to
Tripoli, and from there they boarded trains to Rayyak. The final leg of the
trip was made by camions to Anjar, where they built a campsite in the Umayyad
ruins. The population would remain in this vranagaghak, or tent-city, until
the
completion of the construction of their houses in 1941. Upon the arrival of
the
Armenians in September 1939, the Armenian General Benevolent Union provided
each family with a four-square meter piece of canvas and three sticks for the
assembly of a tent. One survivor likened their arrival to the French “dumping”
the people out of the camions like “garbage.” Another woman remembered
arriving
at night in complete darkness, as a result of wartime orders forbidding use of
lighting at night.  The next morning, she awoke to find fields of grass taller
than herself and was shocked by the complete lack of cultivated land.
As a result of the physically exhausting process of relocation, exposure to
new
diseases and the wartime lack of supplies, the survivors describe the
resettlement era as one of great hardship. In addition to having arrived
almost
naked at this swampy and disease-ridden area, they sacrificed a fourth of
their
numbers to malaria. The interviewees consistently stressed the devastation to
the community caused by malaria which festered in the countless swamps of
their
new environment. They recall with detail the hapless winter of 1939, when the
only available protection from the snow were their canvas tents. In response,
the French established a hospital and a clinic with a permanent physician in
the village. The heavy death toll during this time is so prevalent in the
collective memory of Anjar that the interviewees used the same descriptions
independently of each other. Phrases such as “The death knell would be heard
all day,” and “There were days when we had as many as seven burials” have
become part of the oral history of Anjar. 
In September of 1939, two months after the departure from Musa Dagh,
construction of the homes began at the expense of the French.  The village was
designed by an Armenian architect by the name of Hagop Keshishian, making it
the only village in the area built according to a preliminary design. 
Keshishian’s design was in the shape of an eagle from an aerial view; in
homage
to the Musa Dagh resistance of World War I. The French hired all Musa Daghtsi
men over the age of fifteen to construct the homes. According to one
interviewee, the construction workers were paid fifteen ghurush a day.  He
added that despite the fact that women could not be hired to participate in
the
construction, families received fifteen ghurush for each female member over
the
age of fifteen, daily. In his opinion, this was a substantial sum to receive
for building one’s own home and was evidence of the generosity of the French.¬†
Because the health of the general population had been “disturbed” since Ras
al-Bassit, the completion of the houses was delayed. As a result, Arab workers
were hired from neighboring villages and towns as distant as Homs and Hama in
Syria, to supplement Anjar’s labor force. Interviewees remember participating
by clearing rocks from the site to facilitate the project. The interviewees
insisted that all those with the physical ability to work helped in the
construction and that it was considered shameful for an able-bodied person not
to work given the desperate conditions. The first homes in Anjar were
completed
in the summer of 1940 and priority was given to families with sick members and
young children. Initially, each family was to receive a house with three rooms
and one outhouse. Wartime conditions prevented the French from fulfilling this
pledge.  Instead, each family received a single-room house (4 x 4.5 square
meters) and one outhouse on a 400 square meter plot of land. It was not until
1941 that all 1065 homes were completed.
During the winter of 1939, those especially vulnerable to disease, such as the
elderly and young children, were given housing in nearby Arab-inhabited
villages. Interviewees remember this as evidence of the kindness granted to
them by their neighbors, signaling comfortable inter-ethnic relations. 
Several
survivors, who were children in 1939, remember attending school in tents.  Due
to the lack of paper, bags of the cement mixture used in the construction
projects were appropriated for schoolwork. Many remember being insufficiently
clothed and suffering from the cold. One woman recalled, “We were barefoot in
the summer and there were even some who were barefoot in the winter.” The cold
winter of 1939 propelled the Armenians to cut all the trees on the surrounding
hills “from the root” to use as firewood.
Despite the lack of food due to underdeveloped farming and wartime shortages,
no interviewees remembered experiencing starvation. Interviewees recall a lack
of vegetation in Anjar and emphasize the barren landscape which was to be
their
primary source of sustenance. This stands in sharp contrast to their
romanticized memories of Musa Dagh, which are characterized by an abundance of
fruit trees and fertile orchards. When describing the hunger she felt during
the war, one woman remembered an episode when Senegalese soldiers of the
Foreign Legion distributed bread to the children of the village and said that
she still remembers the taste of that bread to this day. Another woman stated
that French officials sold basic food items (i.e. flour, sugar) at subsidized
prices and rationed quantities to each family. 
During the early part of the war, the population resorted to alternative crops
for cooking. In addition to widespread poverty, a shortage in supplies also
prevented the purchase and consumption of necessary items. One interviewee
explained that in the absence of flour, bread was made using chickpeas as a
base. The product was of an unusual texture and its consumption caused acute
thirst. The interviewee added that his experiences eating chickpea bread
during
the war have rendered him unable to consume the legume heretofore. Barley,
millet and potato were also made use of excessively during the war and fell
out
of usage afterward.    
The Holy Armenian See of Cilicia in Antelias funded the construction of
churches and schools in Anjar with donations from the Armenian community in
Beirut. By 1943, there were three schools in Anjar: the Armenian National
Secondary School, the Armenian Catholic School, and the Armenian Protestant
School. On June 16, 1943, the Anjar branch of the Armenian Relief Cross, a
women’s auxiliary charity organization, was founded. Its programs included
providing needy children with meals at school. Thus, contact between the
established Lebanese Armenian community and that of Anjar existed in the form
of charitable outreach. When asked about the treatment they received from
Lebanese Armenians upon their arrival, interviewees affirmed they faced no
discrimination and did not consider themselves to be “needy refugees.”
When the construction project came to an end, the men of the village had
difficulty finding work.  Some residents cultivated fields allotted to them by
the French authorities, who divided the land into units of four or seven
dunams
(1000 square meters), depending on their access to free-flowing water.
However,
most Armenians avoided developing their own land because they believed that
they would return to Musa Dagh after the war, just as they had following the
First World War. For this reason, Anjar remained uncultivated and barren until
the mid-1940s, when the population finally understood that it would not be
able
to return. During the war, the villagers were not willing to come to terms
with
not returning to Musa Dagh and resisted making lasting contributions to Anjar,
refusing “to plant a single tree.” Instead of working their own fields, men,
women, and children worked in the farms of neighboring villages as wage
laborers. According to eye witness accounts, this was the first time the women
of this community had done farm work. Previously, they had enjoyed the luxury
of working solely indoors. Once conditions improved after the war, women
returned to the domestic sphere. 
The Vichy military base in Rayak provided the local population with much
needed
work opportunities, which were in short supply after the completion of the
construction project in Anjar. All male interviewees who met the age
requirement of eighteen during the war found work in the French military, as
did the brothers of several female interviewees. During the Vichy regime,
Rayak
served as an air force base for missions against the British in Palestine. An
interviewee, who worked as a laborer for the Vichy military for three months
before their defeat, remembered being taken with a dozen other workers to
wheat
fields outside Rayak, in the Biqaa Valley, and instructed to remove all rocks
and stones from the area. At first, he did not know the reason for his orders,
but he soon learned that the fields were to be used as runways for bomber
planes on missions to Palestine. His unit was instructed to count the
number of
planes which returned from each mission and he remembered watching them return
from different directions. According to him, the Vichy operated with the
strictest discipline. Outside all military buildings was a box of wet sand
which officers were expected to step in so that their superiors could verify
that all the nails in the soles of their boots were in place from looking at
their footprints. After the arrival of General de Gaulle, the interviewee was
hired to work as a cook in the military hospital of Rayak and in the homes of
high officials.  The veteran interviewees seem to have had no particular
allegiance to the Vichy over the Free French.  They tend to associate the
arrival of de Gaulle with a decrease in unemployment and improved living
conditions. According to an interviewee, de Gaulle expanded Rayak into a more
substantial airport and hired many men from Anjar to work as technicians and
pilots. Another interviewee specifically referred to de Gaulle as being more
“Armenophile” than the previous regime.¬†
Interviewees who were children during the war remember air attacks by the
British Royal Air Force as terrifying experiences. Residents were forbidden to
use lights at night. Although the village was never harmed or attacked, the
residents of Anjar were witnesses to bombings in neighboring Rayak. Older
interviewees were not as traumatized by these bombings. An interviewee,
born in
1934, recounted an anecdote which took place a few days after a night of heavy
shelling by the RAF. While traveling in the fields surrounding Anjar with his
friends, he came upon a dozen bodies of Senegalese soldiers who had been
killed
by air raids and whose bodies had been left in the open.   
With the defeat of the Vichy Regime and the arrival of the Free French and
British in the summer of 1941, life in Anjar took a turn for the better. Not
only did bombardment from the British cease, but food and work opportunities
were more readily available. In addition, steps were taken to bring an end to
the malaria crisis. As part of the Spears Mobile Clinics program, doctors
visited Anjar and administered free malaria vaccinations. Interviewees
remember
the entire community lining up to receive a white pill.  Doctors and nurses
kept close watch on the patients to make sure they did not covertly avoid
swallowing the bitter pill. The interviewees also remember public works
projects created by the British which hired the locals to drain the malaria
pools in the area using DDT. During this part of the war, the community
returned to a more orderly way of life and began to become more self
sufficient. Food and work opportunities were more readily available and the
community had begun to adjust to its new surroundings. Interviewees had few
distinct memories from this part of the war and life seems to have settled
into
a less impressive routine.
French actions with respect to the Sanjak of Alexandretta in 1939 were in
violation of its duties as a Mandatory Power. Its failure to take into
consideration the wishes and “welfare of the native inhabitants” can be
seen as
“a step backward in the development of colonial administration.”¬† Having
protected the Musa Dagh Armenians against persecution at the hands of the
Turks, France ceded the homeland of its dependents to an authority it knew
they
were opposed to. By relinquishing its dominion over Alexandretta for its
political interests, France was essentially forcing the Armenians out of their
homes. However, the survivors of these events harbor no resentment towards
France or the French Mandate. Instead, they are grateful for the assistance
granted to them by the French and feel that they earned this benevolence by
way
of their participation in the Foreign Legion in World War I. Although they may
recognize the injustices committed against them in 1939, they are
understanding
toward the French position in light of the international context of the time.
They are not concerned with their rights as citizens of the Mandate and have a
limited perception of France’s duties and responsibilities towards them.
Thus, life for the Anjar community during the Second World War is
remembered in
terms of extreme hardship. In addition to general wartime difficulties, the
loss of property, exposure to new diseases, and relocation to an undeveloped
region resulted in depravation and heavy loss of human life. However, the
Anjartsis seem to have enjoyed good ties with the French authorities, their
Arab neighbors, and the established urban Armenian community in Lebanon. The
fall of the Vichy French brought an end to bombardments in neighboring Rayak,
better access to supplies and work, as well as public works projects for the
improvement of the country. At the end of the war, the community came to
realize that it would never again return to Musa Dagh and accepted Anjar as
its
final home. Today, they are proud of the prosperity of their village and hold
its distinctive history in high esteem.

Research based on: Tovmas Habeshian, ‘Ainjare Yereg,’ Chanasser No. 15-16
(1-15
August, 1970); Yessayi Havatian, Mousa LerAinjar; Richard Hovannisian, ‘The
Allies and Armenia, 1915-1918,’ Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 3 No. 1;
Majid Khadduri, ‘The Alexandretta Dispute,’ The American Journal of
International Law, Vol. 39, No.3; Vagharsh B. Oflazian, ‘Hrashke Aanjari
Metch,’ Azdag, August 10, 1963; Shahantookhd, ‘Aanjare Aiysor,’ Ayk, August
25,
1967;Sisag Hagop Varjabedian, Hayere Libanani Mech: C Hador.

10) Critics’ Forum, Visual Arts¬†

Public Art in the Armenian Diaspora

By Adriana Tchalian

Public art is commonly defined as art available for the public to see,
regardless of whether it is situated on public property or supported by public
funds. Public art can consist of sculpture, murals, paintings, frescoes,
carvings, photographs and even graffiti. We can add that public art also
conveys a sense of public purpose and may be created by more than one
individual, or anonymously.
Most contemporary Armenian visual artists express little interest in public
art. They work primarily in the vein of Modernism (a point I made in my
earlier
article on Postmodernism, Good Art, Bad Art: Where Is the Armenian
Avant-Garde?), a movement that began in the late nineteenth century. At the
center of the Modernist aesthetic is the heterosexual male artistdescribed by
cultural critic Jean Baudrillard as the “heroic genius”directing his personal
vision from the easel.
The central role of the artist in Modernism is due in large part to the
movement’s preference for painting as the artistic vehicle of choice.
Angst-ridden and confused, this Artist-as-Hero conveys his virtuosity in a
male-female struggle between paint and canvas, using it to convey and
construct
his vision of the world. Like Arshile Gorky, Emil Kazaz, Hagop Hagopyan, and a
legion of other contemporary Armenian artists, the quintessential artist works
outward from the self, the ego.
Though generally commendable by Modernist standards, the chronometer of the
Modernist artist has long been replaced by the microchip of Postmodernism.
Postmodernism takes Modernism a step further, shifting the emphasis away from
the work of art itself to the concept it conveys, questioning in the process
the very possibility of creating art.
The emphasis on the Modernist self in the Armenian context is evident in our
art. What little public art we have in the Armenian diaspora consists largely
of memorials dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. There
are 139 Armenian memorialscommemorative plaques, inscriptions and monumental
sculpture throughout the world, the most well-known of which is the Genocide
Monument (1968) in Armenia’s Dzidzernagapert Memorial Park designed by
architects S. Kalashian and L. Mkrtchian.
There are 27 other Genocide memorials in Armenia. That number is exceeded only
by the memorials in France, 35 in all. The United States has 21, Lebanon
has 5,
while Uruguay and Venezuela have one each. Other countries with Genocide
memorials include Poland, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy, among
others.
California is one of the few places outside of Armenia to offer public art
that
does not relate to the subject of Genocide. These include the statues of
William Saroyan (1950) and David of Sassoun (1950) in Fresno by the artist
Varaz Samuelian.
Other examples from California include the work of Armenian artist Henry Lion
(1900-1966) who created public art for the city of Los Angeles. His work
includes the bronze doors to the Los Angeles City Hall’s Spring Street
entrance; the Pioneer Fountain in Carthay Circle; the Power of Water fountain
in Lafayette Park; the eagle medallion on the Federal Courthouse; the Cabrillo
statue in San Pedro; and the bronze statue of  Felipe de Neve (1932).
Another example from California include the artist, May Sun (Escudero-Fribourg
Architect Team), who designed the Hollywood/Western Station of the Metro Rail
(1999) that feature Armenian symbols on the floors of the station (alongside
Mayan and Chinese pictograms).
Apart from these examples, there is hardly anything significant offered by way
of public art in the diaspora. So perhaps the answer to what lies in the
future
of Armenian public art may very well be found in our ancient past, namely the
prehistoric monoliths of Karahundj. These monoliths can serve as an
inspiration
for artists who want to break out of the cocoon of Modernism and into the
greater dialogue taking place around them.
Prehistoric monoliths, and namely Karahundj, are perhaps the best example of
public art in the history of the world. But what is most significant about
these structures is that they were most likely producedfrom beginning to endby
an entire community, as opposed to a single artist or a group of artists.
Everyone from the stonemasons all the way on up to the astronomers (given the
structures’ astronomical nature) took part in the creation of these
structures.
They really are public art at its best. 
The monolith has become a cultural icon in its own right in recent decades.
Stanley Kubrick’s renowned film, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), touches on the
mystery behind this simple shape. In the opening scene of the film, apes
congregate around a sinister-looking found objectthe monolithand puzzle over
its meaning.
Much the same way, people today express a similar curiosity toward Karahundj
and other prehistoric monoliths. Their totemic form and enormous scale give
them the appearance of structures that are ancient and modern at the same
time.
Located in the Sissian region of Armenia, Karahundj is believed to be one of
the oldest examples of prehistoric stone circles. It even predate the
monoliths
of Stonehenge (3100 BC), located in Wiltshire, England, perhaps the most
famous
of these fascinating structures.
Karahundj can serve as the inspiration for a modern version of the monolith,
built from local stones and conceived by the community at large. I can imagine
the population of a city, along with individual artists or a group of artists,
creating and developing such a project from beginning to end. The result would
represent a genuinely collective effort on the part of a community, not unlike
the prehistoric communities that built monolithic structures.
With its simple designa mere rectanglea modern monolith would be universal in
nature. And like the ancient monuments at Stonehenge and Karahundj, the artist
and the work of art in such a contemporary monument would be one and the
samethe structure would not represent the work of an individual but rather the
community that houses it. Perhaps only in such an effort can we move beyond
the
self and finally begin to pose the question of what lies beyond the boundaries
even of Postmodernism.

Adriana Tchalian holds a Masters Degree in Art History and has managed several
art galleries in Los Angeles.  You can reach her or any of the other
contributors to Critics’ Forum at at [email protected]

11) WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THE REAL AMERICA?

By Skeptik Sinikian

I hear hurricanes a blowin’
And I know the end is coming soon
I fear rivers overflowing
I hear the voice for rage and ruin.

So don’t go out tonight
It’s bound to take your life
There’s a bad moon on the rise.

Bad Moon Risin by Creedance Clearwater Revival

Just like you, I’ve spent the last week watching the news in utter horror. And
with each new story and image, I find myself repeating the words of CCR’s
classic rock bayou ballad.¬† New Orleans is no more–and for millions of
Americans who are able to comprehend what is unfolding before our eyes–our
world will never be the same. Before Hurricane Katrina, most people thought of
Louisiana and New Orleans as no more than just a colorful backdrop to stories
that involve drunken revelry and wild parties. Ask anyone who’s been there.
It’s like the backwater Bayou Voodoo has put a spell on them. They will
smile a
silly guilty grin and then attempt to tell you PG-13 versions of stories of
what they did in the city with an awkwardness rivaled only by the person who
has to edit Al Pacino’s classic “Scarface” for major network broadcasts.¬†
Nicknamed the “Big Easy” and imbued with a deep rooted tradition of blues and
jazz, Creole and Cajun cultures, world-famous cuisine, and eclectically
diverse
history, New Orleans is, or more appropriately, was one of America’s hidden
jewels tucked away in the nape of the Gulf of Mexico, at the mouth of the
massive Mississippi River.
But Louisiana’s crown jewel is no more. Scenes usually associated with third
world countries pour through the television and remind us of havoc that that
nature is capable of unleashing (over an area greater 90,000 square miles
to be
more specific). 
For five days Americans, like you and me, waited in despair for help to
arrive.
National Guard units remained idle while the poor and helpless drowned,
succumbed to disease, dehydration, or injury. And where was our “popularly
elected” President? He was busy reminding everyone in America of his November
mandate by strumming a guitar at a fundraiser in San Diego, California. It’s
what I’d always imagined Emperor Nero looking like when he played the
fiddle as
Rome burned to the ground. 
Days… not hours, nor minutes. That is how long it took for our federal
authorities and the President to respond to the disaster as the levees broke
and water swallowed up most of New Orleans. And by response, I mean posing for
photo opportunities with grief stricken and impoverished survivors. Wait,
did I
say survivors? I meant looters. I believe that’s the proper nomenclature
sanctioned by the White House spokespersons. That’s how the President’s
spin-doctors are describing the traumatized residents of New Orleans. I’m just
waiting for the press conference where these folks get upgraded from
looters to
evil doers. How dare they look for food and water when they should be on their
rooftops waiting for help which didn’t arrive?¬†
Louisiana’s state motto is “Union, Justice, and Confidence.” It’s apparently
not enough that the state has been destroyed by a hurricane and flooding. Now
the President is dismantling the state motto. How else do you explain the
actions of an administration that treats its poorer citizens worse than it’s
wealthier ones? How else do you justify the action of an administration that
expects those who have no transportation or cannot afford it to find a way to
survive the oncoming storm? How do you ask an entire city, state, or nation to
have confidence in their government when they were abandoned in their greatest
hour of need?  
And isn’t it ironic that President Bush has ordered 40,000 military personnel
to secure a city of 500,000. Meanwhile, only 150,000 military personnel are in
Iraq, two years later, trying to secure a country of population 26 million
(and
dropping dead that is). Sounds like someone’s been using “fuzzy math” to do
their calculating. But you have to hand it to the guy. At least he’s
consistent. No matter what the problem, it’s nothing that a little military
force won’t fix. The military is to “Dubya” Bush what Windex was for the
father
in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”¬†
What causes greater concern is the President’s recent promise to lead an
investigation to find out what went wrong and who was to blame for the
response
to this disaster. Hey, maybe while he’s figuring that out, he can help OJ find
the real killers. Someone should remind to look for Iraq’s phantom Weapons of
Mass Destruction during his “investigation.”
I’d ask him to look for the real America too. The one that I grew up with and
most of the world admired. But I doubt he’ll have any luck. After all, in
order
to find the real America, he has to look into the eyes of those who have been
the most affected by this tragedy. 
I saw an old black woman on the news admonish a reporter. “Don’t’ call me a
refugee! We’re not refugees,” she said. “Refugees sneak into the country in
boats. I’m a survivor! I survived Katrina!”¬†
I was moved; I would have probably cried had it not been for the realization
that. somewhere, someone is already printing the first batch of “I survived
Katrina” T-shirts for the tourists who will inevitably return to New Orleans
and for the throngs of frat boys and sorority girls-gone-wild who will descend
on the Big Easy during Mardi Gras to indulge in annual rituals and
debauchery.
Meanwhile, I’ll keep looking for the real America. It must be around here
somewhere. 

Skeptik Sinikian encourages everyone to donate whatever they can to the
Katrina
Relief efforts. If you would like to comment on this or any other articles,
email him [email protected] or visit his ridiculously outdated blog at
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