Monday, March 15, 2010

We do live in a "democracy" -- the Armenian Genocide Resolution and the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004

Today -- Armenia.

We see this when we see that the federal government -- particularly Congress, makes decisions that are not in the best interest of the country. As the federal government draws its power directly from the electorate, it functions a bit like how people do... it makes mistakes and listens to some people more than others. I would think Health Care is probably the most obvious example, but one that I'd rather talk about and that today's post takes us to is -- the Armenian Genocide.

You see, I was raised in an unincorporated suburb of, well, Glendale, perhaps fifteen minutes by freeway to downtown Los Angeles. The neighbors across the street from my mother's house are an Armenian-American family. Just as the surname, Kim, is synonomous with Koreans, Armenian surnames usually end in "yan" or "ian" --  in my hometown, there were a significant number of Armenians. And, well, Glendale is home to:

The city of Glendale is home to the third largest Armenian community outside of Armenia, after Moscow and Los Angeles. According to the United States 2000 Census Glendale is home to 53,854 Armenian-Americans [16] (pking up 27.6% of the total population),
If you include, neighboring, Los Angeles, I believe greater Los Angeles, you come up with a very large number of Armenian-Americans that are concentrated into a small area. This influences what types of politicians are elected in these districts. For some reason (Rep. David Dreier's "safe" seat) -- my mother's address has been carved out of Glendale(literally, if you take a look at this map) -- (this is  my..., no, "his" district, actually. Although I did vote for him the last time around. It's just that there was no one else to vote for).
Gerrymandering, I guess that's another interesting topic. But, anyways: as there are a large number of Armenian-Americans concentrated in a relatively small region -- Glendale and Los Angeles, there will be politicians that more or less will vote on issues that more or less represent the views of its most important constitutents -- the ones that can organize. And, for Glendale and, importantly, for the rest of the United States, Turkey, and Armenia -- the issue is the Armenian Genocide. And, growing up where I did, I remember in high school, there were holidays -- well, during those days, everyday was a holiday -- but in particular, there was a Martin Luther King Day, a President's Day, and, well, an "Armenian Genocide Day." In some classes, maybe two or three students would bother to show up. [I also remember hearing the opinion of one classmate tell me the difference between real Armenians (the ones from Russia and who say "Barev" when saying "Hi") and those from Persia (who say "Parev"), who I suppose were "less Armenian" as they were probably influenced by Persian culture].

Anyways, I do have a point here; just bear with me. Historically, Armenia, I believe, is noted to be the first country to have embraced Christianity and Armenians have traditionally lived in what is now Turkey, the Kurdish Areas of Iraq, Russia, the South Caucasus, and Iran. I believe there is even an old Armenian quarter in Jerusalem. Anyways, Turkey is an important country to the United States for a number of reasons, not excluding the facts that country is home to a large U.S. air base, a member of NATO, and, has a secular, democratic form of government. But anyways, about a hundred years ago, large numbers of Armenians, -- Turks and Kurds, ironically, came to, well, I believe purge the Turkish and Kurdish regions of ethnic Armenians. So, it's an issue that is very dear to ethnic-Armenians and the way that the U.S. government is setup, we have a system, where we have members of Congress vote on the basis of how a small group of people feel -- usually those that are the loudest and most organized -- about labelling this, a genocide.

"The measure, which risks offending Turkey, a U.S. ally, is being handled more cautiously after the 2007 effort, when it appeared headed toward approval."
And, then the caption on another Los Angeles Times article, dated March 5th, after passage of the resolution to label it a genocide says:
The resolution sparks instant backlash from the Turkish government, which warns that the passage could negatively affect the country's relations with the U.S.
On the one hand, Turkey is a large and important country to the United States; Armenia, well, unfortunately, is not. This is very similar to, well, North Korea. North Korea is just not an important country to the United States did it not do all the things the U.S. did not want them to do? (A better paradoxirony I cannot think of). However, in a strange twist of events, this same pattern happened with result to passage of the law that required the U.S. government to accept any political refugee from North Korea -- The North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004. The bill was in large part passed by the actions by well, an alliance between Korean-American evangelical Christians and the evangelical wing of the Republican Party back in 2004 (Korean-Americans are for the most part, predominantly Christian; also of note, South Korea's minority Christian population sends the second largest number of Christian missionaries to the rest of the world). In an interview in Christianity Today:

Stan Guthrie: "Does this bill have the support of the Bush administration?"

Michael Horowitz: "Well, the Bush administration has been very mixed on North Korea. I think the President personally has just been powerful in his condemnation of the human rights violations of the regime. … The administration didn't take a prominent role. This was a matter that moved forward because of the powerful evangelical community and evangelical human rights effort."

The issue of why so many Koreans came to adopt Christianity is a whole separate issue, but perhaps, I'll write about that next time. I wonder if this form of government that the United States enjoys is a luxury that countries, such as China or even Japan, do not enjoy. We do live in a "democracy." You just have to talk really loud. Consider Fox News.

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