When elected officials endorse the wrong cause

The Armenian protestors in front of the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles on April 24, 2021
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By Robert Horowitz The USA Tribune

It should not come as a surprise that an overwhelming number of elected officials in the United States are bought and sold in a shared market called U.S. politics. While in the developing and underdeveloped world, civil servants and elected officials can take cash for bribes, the ‘great’ American system has by now legalized what had once been the outlawed and makes it possible for any elected official or potential candidate to be eligible to receive monetary contributions.

Call it campaign donations or favors, the purpose is one. Largest donors or groups of smallest donors who contribute collectively, do so with a goal in mind: to have the candidate or the elected official looking to be re-elected, to return the favor by doing what that donor or group of donors want. It almost resembles the service provided by the carriers of the oldest profession.

The practice is widespread and strictly regulated with certain limitations per contributors or group of contributors. Largest sums are usually through Super PACs, independent political action committees which may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, and individuals but is not permitted to contribute to or coordinate directly with parties or candidates. As Americans, we are used to large interest groups, including energy corporations, pharma industry and trade unions making their say in the “political market”, but are we paying enough attention to what ethnic communities or lobbying shops that represent them, are doing in this niche?

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For many years now, Jewish, Greek, Armenian, Indian, and Pakistani interest groups have been active in US politics by acquiring close relations with elected officials through fundraisers and votes. So normal it has become that when we see an elected official take sides in an international dispute, we take it as ‘business as usual’. No questions, no answers, no accountability. I’m fine with that. But what if by taking a side in a given dispute, the elected officials in question undermines our very national interests, and most importantly, our moral principles?

I was flabbergasted last week when going through my Facebook feed I saw a footage from an Armenian-American demonstration dedicated to Armenian Genocide in Los Angeles, where the organizers of the protest displayed the gallows with an effigy, wrapped in a flag of Azerbaijan.

While I sympathize with the Armenian community on events that took place in 1915 – regardless which side was to blame — I can’t seem to understand as to why a group of young Armenian Americans would hang a makeshift dummy, supposedly representing any Azerbaijani national, to feed and incite hatred in the middle of Los Angeles, a world away where the events took place.

Evidently, President Biden’s statement on the events of 1915 recognizing the Armenian massacres as genocide, did not help. It further ignited the resolve of Armenian youth groups in the U.S., the AFY in particular, to take revenge, attack and humiliate members of Turkish and Azerbaijani communities. Lest we forget, in July last year, several members of the Azerbaijani community of California were brutally attacked by a mob of several hundred Armenian Americans. A few of the victims were hospitalized, others got away with minor injuries. The LAPD launched a hate crime investigation and issued a warrant for two persons of interest of Armenian descent. Is this what we want in our country? An ethnic war? Do we want to turn LA into Los Angeles of 1992? How many deaths would do this time?

What’s shocking though is that one of the guests of honor of this gathering, hosted by the Armenian Youth Federation was the Californian State Senator Anthony Portantino.

Anthony Portantino (@Portantino)

Mr. Portantino represents the 25th State Senate District which has a large community of Armenian Americans, in Glendale, in particular. He’s been extremely vocal on Armenian issues, to a degree that he completely ignores the national interests of the United States – yes, every elected official, even in state legislatures, must check and accord with the stated US policies when it comes to international disputes – and has relentlessly lobbied other fellow legislators to issue statements and sponsor pro-Armenia bills. It’s completely normal when a state legislator promotes bilateral economic relations between his state and the country in question, but when he oversteps a stated US policy on an international dispute and promotes relations and recognition of a separatist entity created with the support of the adversary of the United States like Russia, that should raise red flags. Even that is not the topic of this article.

What is really appalling is Senator Portantino’s physical presence at this charade of “hanging of an Azerbaijani”. By participating in such an event, Mr. Portantino unequivocally endorses violence against other Americans, including those of Turkish and Azerbaijani origin.

If he happened to be at that event by a mistake or if he was as appalled by the effigy and the gallows, Senator Portantino should have come out and made a statement expressing condemnation and indignation of his office to such a portrayal of members of another ethnic group, a large number of which reside in California. Alas, that was not bound to happen because Mr. Portantino is too bought out, too bent to serve interests of narrow Armenian interest groups and too of low morals.

We have not forgotten where similar effigies had been used over the last fifty years. White supremacists, neo-Nazis in this country and Europe have consistently used effigies depicting African Americans and Jews and had youth beat them up with bats. Should anyone wonder then why so many African Americans died and continue to die today, and why millions of Jews were killed in Holocaust and continue to be persecuted in Europe to this date?

With our actions we teach and endorse the younger generation. Mr. Portantino, you’re endorsing the wrong cause.

You should not be representing the American people because we don’t share the same moral values.

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©2021 The USA Tribune
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