Monday, May 2, 2016

Nisha and John Got Married Yesterday! Takavor yev Takouhi!

Rev. Joanne Hartunian, long-time friend of the family, crowns Nisha and John "Takavor yev Takouhi", as she wishes them "Shower of Blessings"!

 Mr. and Mrs. John Simmons cutting their wedding cake!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Nisha and John Are Getting Married Today!

մէկ բարձով թո՛ղ 
ծերանան՝ 
Meg partsov togh dzeranan!

 “Bir yastikta kocatsinlar - May they grow old sharing the same pillow"

May you grow old on one pillow.
-- Armenian blessing
May their joys be as deep as the ocean
And their misfortunes as light as the foam.
-- Armenian blessing

May their joys be as bright as the morning, and their sorrows but shadows that fade in the sunlight of love.
-- Armenian blessing

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Spirit Airlines loses bags (and outfits) of bridesmaids -- Whoops! They just found them!

Tomorrow is the big wedding, and the Spirit Airlines  had lost the bridesmaids'  dresses. After many phone calls and much frustration, and, of course, no sleep last night, we just got the phone call. Kiara, the hero of this story finally found the suitcase -- it went to Las Vegas, bridesmaid dresses and all . . .  (not the bridesmaids, luckily)1  The dresses apparently thought that the bachelorette party was in Las Vegas1 

The eagle has landed! We are heading for the airport now!

[A lot of effort and anguish just to get Marash Girl a blog post on the day before the wedding!]

Friday, April 29, 2016

Postage Stamps from Marash - 1913 - 1915 - 1958

Thanks to Özcan Gülkesen and Ali Kurtar for posting the images below on Facebook's Birzamanlar Maraş.
1913

It's unsettling to realize that the stamp pictured to the right was cancelled in Marash in 1913, before the beginning of the Armenian Genocide (1915-1922),  while Marash Girl's father Peter was but one year old, and the stamp pictured below was cancelled in Marash in 1915, the year that marked the beginning of the Armenian genocide, while Peter was living with his mother Yepros, his brother Paul, and his sisters Gulenia and Vartouhi (Rose) in Kumbet, Marash.  They were among the lucky ones, though. They survived.
1915
1958

Thursday, April 28, 2016

More on One Family's Genealogy

ActionNameRolePassenger NameDestination Date (Port) / ShipBirth PlaceLast ResidenceJoining Location
Bilazikjian
Bilezikjian, ArakelJBilezikjian [Bilazikjian], Krikor1920-10-12 (New York) / New YorkMarash (autonomous sanjak), TurkeyMarash (autonomous sanjak), Turkey86 Bowers St. / Newton (Newtonville), MA, USA
Bilazikian, ArakelP1913-12-05 (New York) / ArgentinaMarash (autonomous sanjak), TurkeyMarash (autonomous sanjak), Turkey765 Flatbush Ave. / Brooklyn, NY, USA
Bilakijian, ArakelP1913-12-05 (New York) / ArgentinaMarash (autonomous sanjak), TurkeyMarash (autonomous sanjak), Turkey765 Flatbush Ave. / Brooklyn, NY, USA
Bilezikian, Arakel S.JDer Chanessian [Ohanesian], Karekin1921-03-03 (Providence) / BragaBeirut, TurkeyBeirut, Turkey86 Bowers St. / Newton (Newtonville), MA, USA
Belezekjian, BedrosP1922-04-14 (New York) / Providence791 Washington St. / Newton (Newtonville), MA, USA
Belezekjian, BoghosP1922-04-14 (New York) / Providence791 Washington St. / Newton (Newtonville), MA, USA
Bilezikjian, GarabedLBilezikjian [Bilazikjian], Krikor1920-10-12 (New York) / New YorkMarash (autonomous sanjak), TurkeyMarash (autonomous sanjak), Turkey86 Bowers St. / Newton (Newtonville), MA, USA
Belezekjian, GulenaP1922-04-14 (New York) / Providence791 Washington St. / Newton (Newtonville), MA, USA
Belezekjian, JeproseP1922-04-14 (New York) / Providence791 Washington St. / Newton (Newtonville), MA, USA
Bilezikjian, KrikorP1920-10-12 (New York) / New YorkMarash (autonomous sanjak), TurkeyMarash (autonomous sanjak), Turkey86 Bowers St. / Newton (Newtonville), MA, USA
Biletzikian, ManoogJVaneskiayan, Dikran1913-12-05 (New York) / ArgentinaMarash (autonomous sanjak), TurkeyMarash (autonomous sanjak), Turkey765 Flatbush Ave. / Brooklyn, NY, USA
Bileiziezian, ManougJBilekseozian [Beylikdjian], Vartan1912-10-30 (New York) / AliceMarash (autonomous sanjak), TurkeyMarash (autonomous sanjak), Turkey765 Flatbush Ave. / Brooklyn, NY, USA
Bilakijian, ManoukJBilakijian [Bilazikjian], Arakel1913-12-05 (New York) / ArgentinaMarash (autonomous sanjak), TurkeyMarash (autonomous sanjak), Turkey765 Flatbush Ave. / Brooklyn, NY, USA
Bilajikian, ManukJBilazikian [Bilazikjian], Arakel1913-12-05 (New York) / ArgentinaMarash (autonomous sanjak), TurkeyMarash (autonomous sanjak), Turkey765 Flatbush Ave. / Brooklyn, NY, USA
Bilajikian, ManukJBilazikian [Bilazikjian], Moses1913-12-05 (New York) / ArgentinaMarash (autonomous sanjak), TurkeyMarash (autonomous sanjak), Turkey765 Flatbush Ave. / Brooklyn, NY, USA
Bilazikian, MosesP1913-12-05 (New York) / ArgentinaMarash (autonomous sanjak), TurkeyMarash (autonomous sanjak), Turkey765 Flatbush Ave. / Brooklyn, NY, USA
Bilazikjian, PanosP1898-09-19 (New York) / La NormandieCyprus, Archipelago, TurkeyBox 180 / Providence, RI, USA
Bilazikian, SantikLBilazikian [Bilazikjian], Moses1913-12-05 (New York) / ArgentinaMarash (autonomous sanjak), TurkeyMarash (autonomous sanjak), Turkey765 Flatbush Ave. / Brooklyn, NY, USA
Bilazikian, SantikLBilazikian [Bilazikjian], Arakel1913-12-05 (New York) / ArgentinaMarash (autonomous sanjak), TurkeyMarash (autonomous sanjak), Turkey765 Flatbush Ave. / Brooklyn, NY, USA
Bilakijian, SarkisLBilakijian [Bilazikjian], Arakel1913-12-05 (New York) / ArgentinaMarash (autonomous sanjak), TurkeyMarash (autonomous sanjak), Turkey765 Flatbush Ave. / Brooklyn, NY, USA
Bilezikian, VartanJEgulian [Egilian], Peter1920-06-07 (New York) / PannoniaMarash (autonomous sanjak), TurkeyMarash (autonomous sanjak), Turkey89 Bower St. / Newton (Newtonville), MA, USA
Belezekjian, VartouhiP1922-04-14 (New York) / Providence791 Washington St. / Newton (Newtonville), MA, USA
Note various spellings of last name and first names . . .

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

YOUSUF KARSH & JOHN GARO: THE SEARCH FOR A MASTER'S LEGACY by Mehmed Ali

Joe Dagdigian looks on as author Mehmed Ali inscribes and autographs a copy of his recently published book, 
YOUSUF KARSH & JOHN GARO: THE SEARCH FOR A MASTER'S LEGACY,  
preceding his lecture at ALMA yesterday evening.
Author of YOUSUF KARSH & JOHN GARO: THE SEARCH FOR A MASTER'S LEGACY, 
Mehmed Ali inscribes and autographs his recently published book to Lisa Dagdigian last night
 at the Armenian Museum of America, Watertown, Massachusetts.    Photos by Marash Girl
Read the book to learn about John Garo and Yousuf Karsh, two master photographers, both Armenians from the Ottoman Empire who immigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, during the first half of the 20th Century.  The Armenian Museum of America notes, "When President Calvin Coolidge was asked to choose between the artist John Singer Sargent or the photographer John Garo to make his official presidential portrait, Coolidge chose Garo.  . . "  After Yousouf Karsh fled the Armenian Genocide (1915-1920) and joined his uncle in Canada, Karsh was sent by his uncle to apprentice with the photographer Garo.

At the time, Garo, who had tried to make a living as a painter, was an established photographer in Boston.  His photographs were painterly, soft focus, impressionistic, chiaroscuro; he was a pioneer in color photography.  He created the "Garograph".  Wilson's Photographic Magazine, Vol. XLIII, March 1906, published an article by Sidney Allan entitled, "A Painter Photographer - J. H. Garo", in  which Allan describes in great detail the process by which Garo created his photographic prints.

Estrellita Karsh, the wife of Yousuf Karsh, was present at yesterday's lecture given by the authors of the book,    JOHN GARO: THE SEARCH FOR A MASTER'S LEGACY.  She reminded the audience that the Garo Studio was in Copley Square, Boston, directly across from the Museum of Fine Arts building  (now the Copley Hotel).  Karsh had lived through those dark years of the Armenian Genocide; thus, when he came to "intern" with Garo in Boston's Copley Square, Karsh spent many long hours at the Museum of Fine Arts, drinking in the beauty of the art of the great masters. . . beauty which served as an antidote to the horror of the Armenian Genocide, horror he had witnessed (and survived) early on in his life.  "The museum was his university," said Estrellita Karsh.  "He had never seen such beauty."

Karsh, who adored and admired Garo, spent much of his later life seeking photographs made by Garo, noted Estrellita Karsh.  She encouraged all to look in attics and long forgotten boxes for photographs that may sport the Garo imprint.

N.B. This post is written with thanks to Joseph Turner for the loan of his iPhone6 without which there would be no photos today, as MarashGirl's iPhone was out of battery!            

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"You're right as well!"

New York Times quotes Marash Girl without crediting!  If you go to Marash Girl's blog post of September 3, 2013, you will find the following story, a story told to Marash Girl many a time as she was growing up.

"You're right, too! - A Favorite Nasreddin Hodja Story"


However, yesterday, in Sunday's New York Times Book Review yesterday, April 24, 2016, at the beginning of Jennifer Ouellette's article, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, (an article reviewing the books THE UNIVERSE IN YOUR HAND and SEVEN BRIEF LESSONS ON PHYSICS), you will find the same story. Ouellette begins, "Have you heard the joke about the elderly rabbi who tries to settle a bitter dispute between two men?  The rabbi listens to one man's case and pronounces him right. Then he hears the second man's case, and concludes the second man is right. At  this point his eavesdropping wife steps in and points out that both men can't possible be right.  To which the rabbi replies, "And you are right as well!"

Stories travel, and good ones travel far.

Monday, April 25, 2016

COMMEMORATING THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE OF 1915

Yesterday, Marash Girl and Marash Boy attended a joint church service held at the First Armenian Church in Belmont, a service commemorating the lives lost during the Armenian Genocide of 1915,  "the 1.5 million Armenian martyrs, our forefathers' immense suffering, torture, exile, deportation and killings in the deserts of Der Zor. . ."  Tears came far too easily, tears of remembrance, tears of anguish, tears of loss, tears that the passing of time could not erase.

Marash Girl was surrounded by love, by her childhood, by those people who knew and loved her and her family while she was growing up.  The service was moving in the extreme, prayers and hymns beginning in the church sanctuary, the sermon by Rev. Avedis Boyherian, the music by talented musicians John Baboian and June Baboian,  and prayers outdoors at the Khachkar at the front of the church followed by a  time of fellowship and food (of course) in the church reception hall .
The caption at the base of this Khatchkar erected in the front garden of the
  First Armenian Church in Belmont, Massachusetts, reads,
 "THE ARMENIAN PEOPLE LIVE FOREVER WITH CHRIST . . .
Dedicated to the Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide 1915"

Sunday, April 24, 2016

"Truth -- Justice -- Recognition"

 Commemorating the lives of our ancestors taken by the Ottomans, 
the unpunished slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915
                                                                     With thanks to the Armenian Missionary Association for the above image.

Aline & Raffi praying for our ancestors. Praying and working for an end to violence. Living in gratitude.
Lorig writes,
"April 24: Today is the 101 years after the beginning of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Turkish Government in the waning years of the Ottoman Empire. Many of my ancestors perished with the 1.5 million Armenians. Some survived and that's why I am here today. Grateful for my life and aware of the need to end violence in our world.
"As children, we used to throw flowers into the Connecticut River with my grandmother Azniv Sanjian Charkoudian, a survivor. Today Aline, Raffi, and I carry on the tradition at Sligo Creek, Takoma Park."

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Link to passenger list for those of us looking for our family histories . . .

Thanks to Mark Aslan and
   
Sara Helen Ayanian
April 12 at 2:02pm
Hi All, Mark Arslan has done an exceptional job creating a database of Armenian names from ship manifests. That said, I am having trouble, and maybe others are, too, in find the link or the correct link for that database. That said, I am posting a link below that should help anyone else in the same position:  http://arslanmb.org/ArmenianImmigrants/Public-ViewSummary-ArmenianImmigrants-Main-ByPassengerLastName.php

Friday, April 22, 2016

ADVICE FROM THE PAST

Marash Girl was upset.  She was angry.  She wanted to write and tell that guy exactly what she thought of him.  "Write the letter, put it under your pillow and sleep on it.  You may not want to mail it by morning."  This was the advice Marash Girl was given by her dad in the day when there was no internet, no email, no texting.  (Yes, there was telephone . . . if not, how could Marash Girl be writing today?)

Unfortunately, Marash Girl is not following that advice, as she missed out on writing this blog post last night, and even if she had, it would have been hard to sleep with the computer under her pillow.  None the less, you get the message . . . or do you?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Talin Suciyan: THE ARMENIANS IN MODERN TURKEY

 Dr. Talin Suciyan speaking at NAASR
Photo by Marash Girl
Armenians gathered last night, not in modern Turkey, but in Belmont, Massachusetts, to hear Talin Suciyan speak about her new book,   
The Armenians in Modern Turkey.  [Dr. Suciyan completed her Ph.D. at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, where she is currently an assistant professor at the Institute of Near and Middle Eastern Studies, and works closely with a long-time friend of Marash Girl.] 

Suciyan's presentation, sponsored by the National Association of Armenian Studies and Research, is  the first history of its kind addressing the questions that so many of us have had throughout our lives:  What would it have been like had we been living as Armenians in Turkey today?              

Suciyan based her research on records found in the Turkish State Archives (focusing on the post-1923 period), the minutes of the Armenian National Assembly, personal diaries, memoirs, oral histories (which she conducted with Armenians residing in various countries including Germany, but also Turkey, Canada, and elsewhere,) newspapers, yearbooks, and magazines,  as well as contemporary interviews with Armenians residing in Germany who had been born in Turkey from 1938-1940.  

According to Dr. Suciyan, after 1923, for those Armenians who were lucky enough to survive the genocide, there was official denial of "Armenian life" in Turkey.  New surnames were issued, no Armenian schools remained in the provinces  [According to Suciyan, female Armenian students faced possible kidnapping . . . ] However, Armenian schools were never closed  in Istanbul where teachers were under the close supervision of the state.  [The speaker attended one such Armenian school in Istanbul.] Orphanages and Kakhdagan Centers were closed in the late 1930's.  There was a "perpetual exodus" of Armenians, and many of those exiting went to Germany as migrant workers.  Wholesale destruction of Armenian churches occurred in Turkey, if not by the government, by the locals who used the construction materials to build their houses.  (It should be noted that Turkish writer Yashar Kemal, a close friend of Marash Girl's writer friend Memet Fuat Bengu,  prevented the complete destruction of Lake Van's Aghtamar Church.)

Denigrating Turkishness became a sin, punishable by . . . 

A Citizens Speak Campaign reigned.  Armenians had to become invisible.  No Armenian books were allowed in schools. (Marash Girl's Uncle Paul, born in Marash in 1908, often spoke of having to hide Armenian books when Turkish gendarmes came into the classroom to make sure only Turkish was being taught). According to Suciyan, Armenians living in Turkey became frightened and burned any Armenian books that they had in their furnaces, or drowned the books in their wells, because they never really knew which books were banned by the Turkish state.

Denial in the community showed itself as "totally agreed upon silence".  The Armenians were forced to be a part of that denial, although Armenian intellectuals continued to struggle against such denial.  There were no longer Armenian schools.  People were banned from going from city to city, thus preventing folks from traveling from the home to work, or even from going to their summer houses.  There was strict control over the Armenian newspapers as well as self-censorship.  

For the Turkish government, it was easier to control this denial in Istanbul than in the provinces.  Although property and military archives are closed, most of the other archives are open.  These archives show that Armenian properties were designated as "abandoned property", confiscated ty the state, and sold by the state to third parties. 

Suciyan examined "remarkable new primary material -- Turkish state archives, minutes of the Armenian National Assembly, a kaleidoscopic of personal diaries, memoirs and oral histories, various newspapers, yearbooks and magazines, as well as statutes and laws which led to continuing persecution." She emphasized the importance of the Houshamadyans, the "local histories" written during the first half of the 20th Century by Armenians from the various cities, cities such as MARASH!  Unfortunately, most of these books, written in Armenian, have not yet been translated into English.


As Marash Girl was unable to take notes quickly enough to provide her readers with a full report of Suciyan's talk, she recommends that her readers purchase the book,  THE ARMENIANS IN MODERN TURKEY by Talin Suciyan, available online from Canada.  Marash Girl has already ordered her copy. The book promises to be a fascinating read!  

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Alan Wolfe: The Calling of a Public Intellectual

Alan Wolfe accepts his place as a  living luminary of Boston College.
April 14, 2016, Gasson Hall, Boston College
 Photo by Marash Girl

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Shadows from the Past

As many of you may be aware, Marash Girl sells books -- mostly out of print books -- on the various internet bookselling sites.  Yesterday, as she went to list HAND SHADOWS TO BE THROWN UPON THE WALL, she was thrown upon the past -- she remembered when she first became aware of hand shadows.  She was in the fourth grade attending a "summer day camp" sponsored by the Immanuel Baptist Church in Newton Corner --  the minister of the church at the time, Rev. McCorkle, (not sure of the spelling), invited Marash Girl and her young family members to join the "summer day camp" -- he drove them to camp every day as he was a neighbor and Mummy didn't have her license yet --  it was at that day camp that Marash Girl first saw hands shadowed onto a white screen -- hands shadowing images of animals of all kinds.  The wonder of it all stays with her to this day!  And if Rev. McCorkle is still around, and you know him, please tell him how much Marash Girl appreciates the kindness he did for her and her family members that long-ago summer.

Monday, April 18, 2016

And now, a side trip to neighboring Aintep in 1919

A 1919 photo of a pedestrian alleyway in Aintab, the city of Marash Girl's mother's family. With a fully covered woman, it must be in the Turkish section during the period of the Armenian defense battles. Note the open drain/gutter in the middle of the alleyway!

Photo and caption courtesy of 
Cesar Jacques Khekijian, Facebook's Aintabsi Armenians.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Story of Arrival, Story of Survival . . . on the Fly Leaf of a Bible

Ays Sourp Kirku Yepros Bilezikjiani gu badgani......1922 March 9
Kitabu Moukaddes ya'ni 'Ahdu 'atik ve 'andu jedid
'an asul mouharrer bouloundughu tbrani ve kildani ve younani lisanlarundan  Bir Terjeme
Istanbolsa, A. H. Boyajian Matba'asunda Tab' Olounmash Dur 1910
Peter Bilezikian 1939

Saturday, April 16, 2016

French Soldiers In Marash - 1919 Photo

"French soldiers take a break before the 1919 invasion of the Marash plains." Photo and caption courtesy of Facebook's Bir Zamanlar Maras

Thursday, April 14, 2016

19th Century photo Protestant Sunday School in Marash

Inscription in old German reads
 "Helfer u[nd] Helferinnen der protestant[ischen] Sonntagsschule in Marasch"
(Helpers (assistants) and female helpers of the Protestant Sunday school  in Marash)

Photo courtesy of Facebook's Bir Zamanlar Maras


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

And Speaking of Chewing Gum . . .

When Marash Girl was growing up, all the cool ladies from Harpoot (Kharpert), the prettily dressed ladies either born in Harpoot, or born of parents who recently arrived in the United States from Harpoot -- all of those ladies would chew gum.  Marash Girl so admired Aunty Bea, her favorite auntie.  Auntie Bea could chew her gum and talk at the same time -- snapping her gum as she chewed in rhythm to the conversation she was having -- whether that conversation was in English, Armenian or Turkish.  She and her sisters were so pretty, so nice, and so talented -- both with their cooking and especially (for little Marash Girl) with the way they could snap their chewing gum as they chatted and laughed.  Marash Girl tried, but to no avail.  To this day she has never been able to achieve what those ladies achieved . . . not in cooking, not in snapping gum!  But then, Marash Girl had no Kharpetsi genes.  Maybe that is the problem . . .

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

I'm not talkin' while the flavor lasts!

Marash Boy's Emi, his father's brother, Uncle Harry, a man of few words, a man who survived the genocide and walked out of Marash during the snowstorm of 1922 . . .  .  Uncle Harry would always steer clear of controversy by commenting with a wry grin, a grin that suggested he had a lot to say about the matter at hand, 
"I'm not talkin' while the flavor lasts!"  

(Uncle Harry was quoting a popular ad for Wrigley's Chewing Gum.  Does anyone remember that ad?)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Candy Man

Leaving the genealogy conference yesterday afternoon, Marash Girl spied a man sporting the name "Roubian" on his name tag.  She stopped him.  Are you related to Nishan Roubian, she asked him.  No, he answered, I don't know of him.  Well, said Marash Girl,  (See Marash Girl, August 14, 2012), we children loved Nishan Roubian so much because he always had his pockets filled with candy covered almonds, candy he would offer to us after church every Sunday.  He made us so happy.  Yesterday's Mr. Roubian smiled.  "That sounds like a Roubian!" he replied.

There's a Turkish expression that fits here, an expression Marash Girl heard many times growing up, but an expression Marash Girl cannot spell.

Here's the sound of it:  Jinseh çeker.  (The genes will come out!)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Armenian Genealogy Conference

                                   Cousins meet and greet at the Armenian Genealogy Conference in Watertown.
The Armenian Genealogy Conference organized by George Aghjayan took place today at the Armenian Cultural and Educational Center in Watertown, Massachusetts.  Over 300 people attended, enthusiastic to learn the ways in which they might research their ancestry using contemporary online search methods, and going so far as to check Turkish government records.  

"Start with the people you know before you start searching records -- your grandparents, your parents, your brothers, your sisters, your cousins -- you'd be amazed at what you can learn from surviving relatives."   A video of the conference will be posted online.

Below a photo of an Armenian attending the conference,  pleased to share a copy of his family tree.

But Peter's method was far simpler.  Marash Girl's father would always comment,  You want to know who your relatives are?  Just go and die, and leave a will behind you . . .                                              "Where there's a will, there's"  (and he would pause here) " . . . a lot of relatives!"

Friday, April 8, 2016

"Contribute to WBUR, Boston's National Public Radio Station!" Tom Ashbrook

Tom Ashbrook (center),  host  of WBUR's On Point,
 thanked volunteers yesterday at WBUR's on-air two day fundraising event.

"On Point’s host, Tom Ashbrook, an award-winning journalist, was brought to public radio following the attacks of September 11, 2001, when he was enlisted by NPR and WBUR-Boston for special coverage, after a distinguished career in newspaper reporting and editing."

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Use your nose!

"Use your head!"  A favorite expression from the 1940s.  But if you're into antiques, "Use your nose!"

How can you tell a real antique bureau from a fake?  Use your nose! Sniff inside the drawers.  If you're smelling fresh wood, you'll know you've sniffed out a fake.  And if you're smelling mildew, don't buy it!

How can you tell an ancient Roman lamp from a fake? Use your nose! If you're smelling fresh clay, you'll know you've found a genuine fake!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Marasch 1901-1905

Marasch
1901-1905
(Jes.61.4)  Isaiah 61:4

The image of the book of photographs pictured above was posted on Facebook by Birzamanlar Marash -- apparently a book that resides in Turkey, a book published at the beginning of the 20th Century by missionaries.  The Bible quotation, Isaiah 61:4, referenced on the front cover reads,

"And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations." 

How many of us Armenians have done exactly that with our gardens, our agricultural lands, our woodlands, our tracts dedicated to the memory of our ancestors who lost their lives and their lands . . . .

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

On Ben Bagdikian

Marash Boy's Response to yesterday's blog post (below):
"I’m sure that Ben Bagdikian died of a broken heart watching his beloved profession which has been so lacking in this electoral season.  
"As you may know from the obit, Ben Bagdikian was born in 1920 in the former Ottoman city of Marash, where my mother and father were born, and where Bethel’s father was born.  
"When I was a little boy, the Bagdikians lived on a farm in Belchertown, just outside of Springfield, Massachusetts. Ben Bagdikian’s older sister, who was a nurse working at Springfield Hospital, was a good friend of my mother with whom she  probably attended  the Marash Girls’ College.  I remember very clearly how his sister who, when she was commuting from Belchertown to Springfield,  would come by to visit my mother who absolutely adored her.  According to the obituary, Ben’s first reporting job was with the Springfield  Union.  Though I remember the sister’s visits very well, I’m sorry to say that I never got to meet Ben, but he always meant a lot to me, given his roll in the field of journalism.
"Your recent take on the Republican presidential campaign befits the standards that Ben Bagdikian sought for his profession."  

Monday, April 4, 2016

Republicans and Anti-Muslim Bigotry

A Letter from a Dear Friend:

It's a challenge to single out any one toxic issue from the current Republican presidential mudfight, but it's worth noting that ugly and dangerous anti-Muslim prejudice is a major concern in both Donald Trump's and Ted Cruz's campaigns.

Trump's call to bar Muslims from entering the country has gotten most of the headlines. But there are many more stories that should have had more attention than they've received, showing among other things that Ted Cruz is NOT the lesser evil in this regard. Cruz's naming some of the most fanatical members of the Islamophobe network to his team of advisors is an example. It drew some critical comments when he announced the list but as far as I could tell was pretty much a one-day story, and the reporting I saw did not come close to explaining how shocking his choices really were.

Exhibit A is retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, who has said things such as "Islam is evil. Islam is an evil concept," "Islam is not a religion and does not deserve First Amendment protections," and "those following the dictates of the Quran are under an obligation to destroy our Constitution and replace it with shari'a law.” He's also declared that Christians should "go on the offensive" to prevent Muslims in America from building any more mosques.

(Not directly on this topic but I can't resist noting that Boykin also preached a couple of years ago that when Jesus returns, he will be carrying an AR-15 assault rifle. Not a joke. You can listen to it at http://aattp.org/ex-army-general-claims-jesus-will-be-returning-to-earth-sporting-an-ar-15-audio/ -- and ask yourself, are you reassured that a possible U.S. president is listening to this guy's advice on foreign policy? Or on anything?)

Cruz also named Frank Gaffney and a couple of his colleagues from his Center for Security Policy, one of the major-league anti-Muslim organizations, which specializes in dire warnings about the imminent danger that Muslims will impose shari'a law on the United States. Gaffney has said that Muslims who observe shari'a should be prosecuted for sedition. He advocates banning "not just refugees, but anyone coming in under any immigration program from Syria and Iraq"; all immigration from a list of other countries including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Libya, and Afghanistan; and a moratorium on ALL refugee resettlement.

As I said, there was a bit of tongue-clucking from the pundit tribe when Cruz announced those appointments, but it was pretty transitory. That tells something about the different yardstick the media and our society in general apply to anti-Muslim views as opposed to bias against other minorities. I am pretty sure that if Cruz had named someone with a comparable record of bigotry toward Jews or African Americans, the outrage and outcry would have been far more intense and lasted a lot longer.

As to Trump, it's striking that the one story with staying power has been his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country, while other more outrageous statements are mentioned much more sporadically. At the top of my list is his saying he would "take out" terrorists' families -- and that not doing so is "fighting a very politically correct war." Personally I think that is the single worst thing he or anyone has said in this campaign. (Worth noting that he backed it up with one of his most blatant lies, about the 9/11 hijackers sending their families out of the country -- a story he has repeated even after it was conclusively shown to be false.) The second worst statement is Trump's enthusiastic endorsement of torture -- "Believe me, it works... If it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway, for what they’re doing.”

I'm not sure why embracing those flagrantly illegal and immoral policies has gotten so much less coverage than banning Muslim entry to the country. Maybe it's because the latter ties more directly to the immigration issue, which has raised broader public concern. But it's hard to avoid a sense that bigotry against Muslims is fairly widely accepted as a legitimate viewpoint, compared to prejudice against other minorities.

This is not only troubling about our values. It is also dangerous on completely practical grounds. Just about all real terrorism experts will tell you that anti-Islamic attitudes and actions will not lead to more effective counter-terror efforts, but exactly the opposite. Treating Muslim communities as a potential enemy population reinforces the extremist narrative. It says exactly what they want Muslims here and around the world to believe -- that America is at war with Islam and Muslims have to strike back. We are safer when Muslims in this country feel accepted and respected, trust American law enforcement and identify with American institutions. We are less safe when we alienate Muslims by public hostility and suspicion and repressive policies. Those make the extremist argument more credible and will make people more reluctant to cooperate with anti-terror authorities. Trump and Cruz may win some votes by playing to people's fears, but the attitudes and policies they support help the jihadists, not public safety.

There are very few if any Trump or Cruz supporters in my address book, so this mailing will largely be preaching to the choir. But I think it's an important message, and if any of you can find useful places to deliver it, I hope you'll do so.

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N.B. The opinions here expressed belong to the writer, and may or may not be the opinion of the blogger.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Students and Instructors in Marash Academy 1893

                        1893 Maraş Akademisi Öğrenci ve öğretmenleri görülmektedir.
                                  (Ortada oturan şapkalı bayan , Mrs L O Lee )
                                  Students and Instructors in Marash Academy  
                          Thanks to Facebook's Bir Zamanlar Marash for the Photo