In their April 13 letter, "Blending in is a challenge for all," Jerry
and Judy Weiner bemoan the large volume of letters in the newspaper about
Armenian issues and claim weariness of having experiences of some other
part of the world imposed on them.
They have overlooked the fact that the vast majority of letters from
Armenians came in response to one letter that was offensive and
insensitive, by any standard, that was circulated in local high schools
among Armenian students.
The writer of which, since having become more informed, subsequently
apologized for having written it.
Despite championing the "American Way," the Weiners omitted any
reference to the cherished American notion of freedom of thought and
Are Armenians supposed to muzzle themselves when talking about their
own ancestry so as not to offend the sensibilities of others? The Weiners
say that this nation offers freedom of choice. They have the choice not
to read the Community Forum page when they see headlines relating to
Armenians. In this way, they can feel less imposed upon and less weary.
Finally, if there were other burning issues that would cause people to
write letters to the Glendale News-Press, I am sure that its staff would
be publishing those letters instead of letters about Armenian issues.
The Weiners' claim that Glendale is not a place that requires
conforming to other people's perspectives. By asking everyone to blend
in, they themselves are preaching conformity to one monolithic set of
As difficult as it may be for people to accept, this city has
developed into a very ethnically diverse population over the past 15
years, and it is simply unrealistic to expect a uniform set of values,
customs or rules across all ethnic groups.
We can certainly all respect the United States government, its
institutions and our freedoms as Americans, but that doesn't mean that we
must disconnect ourselves from our ancestral culture for the sake of
There are less than 7 million Armenians worldwide, and they were
dispersed all over the globe as a result of the events of 1915. Armenians
have sought to preserve their identity on foreign soil throughout the
There was no independent Armenian nation for the better part of the
20th century until after the breakup of the Soviet Union. We have a
morbid fear of extinction as a people, because we feel we will always
lose members of our nation to assimilation in the larger cultures in
which we have resided.
That is why my parents sent me to an Armenian school in Encino for six
years, with a graduating class of 26 people, no chemistry lab, a 7 a.m.
bus stop in Hollywood and a dirt field strewn with rocks on which to play
In addition, we are constantly having to cope with forces who wish to
alter our history and who wish to essentially tell us that the memories
of our grandparents were just an illusion.
We are asked to forgive, but forgiveness only comes after the
perpetrator acknowledges his wrongdoing. We have not received that
acknowledgment. We never had our Nuremberg trials. Wedo not have closure.
Finally, why is it that issues originating from some other part of the
world, as the Weiners put it, are so unwelcome. Are the residents of
Glendale really that provincial? Do they not wish to address issues
beyond the borders of their city?
Are there are not certain universal issues that concern all of
humanity, regardless of where on the globe they originate from?
Not all Armenians speak with one voice. We do not all think that city
flags should be lowered April 24. The extent of our influence in the city
is debatable. What is undeniable is that about 50,000 of us live within
the confines of this city, and I dare say there are no plans for any
The fact is that Armenians will continue to have a significant
presence on the city landscape, regardless of whether others are ready to
This is Glendale, Calif., circa 2001. Maybe the letter should have
been titled "Tolerance is a challenge for all."
VIKEN S. MOURADIAN