Letter to the Editor: Amb. Heffern’s Speaking Tour

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Letter to the Editor: Amb. Heffern’s Speaking Tour

Feb. 11, 2013

Appearing in HETQ, the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, the Armenian Weekly, the Armenian Reporter International and elsewhere.


To the Editor:


I attended a presentation by U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern during his December 2012 speaking tour of Armenian American communities.


This is not the first time that the Diocese, Prelacy, and other organizations have, in effect, given diplomats and others free reign to propagandize and abuse us.


Like other U.S. ambassadors to Armenia, such as Marie Yovanovich and John Ordway, who also gave solo presentations, Mr. Heffern refused to acknowledge the Armenian genocide, was deceptive concerning U.S. goals in the Caucasus, and generally failed to provide honest responses to the audience's questions.


Allowing a speaker to mislead, frustrate, and demoralize a segment of the audience is a disservice to Armenian Americans and their vital concerns. Such events must not, therefore, be repeated.


Implicitly pro-Turkish officials such as Mr. Heffern should be invited to speak only as part of a panel in which assertive, geopolitically knowledgeable Armenian Americans participate.


In this way, the Armenian panelists can not only provide their own views but also vigorously challenge the official's claims when the latter tries to hoodwink the audience or sidestep a question.


Both young and old Armenian Americans, especially those who may not be politically well-informed, would benefit greatly from such a balanced event.


The problem pertains not just to officials such as U.S. ambassadors. I think back to those such as David L. Phillips, a U.S. State Department consultant who headed the so-called Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC).


Several years ago, an Armenian American organization invited him to speak. Phillips misinformed the audience by claiming, for instance, that Armenians had no right to genocide reparations.


Our organizations must stop providing uncontested platforms for what are, in essence, pro-Turkish propagandists, regardless of how "prestigious" the latter may be.


If such a propagandist is unwilling to face knowledgeable Armenian Americans in a fair panel discussion, he or she ought to be turned away.


Sincerely,


David Boyajian


Belmont, MA


February 11, 2013