Letter -- Viken S. Mouradian

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

expression.

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

values.

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

blending in.

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

world.

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

baseball.

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

immediate evacuations.

The fact is that Armenians will continue to have a significant

presence on the city landscape, regardless of whether others are ready to

accept them.

This is Glendale, Calif., circa 2001. Maybe the letter should have

been titled "Tolerance is a challenge for all."

VIKEN S. MOURADIAN

Glendale

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