Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Tale of THREE Countries' People?

Armenians have been coming to America for about 120 years. Though some of you think I might go back that far, no, not quite....My own family are fairly late comers, I'm a first generation on one side and second generation, but I do have some experience with it!

I write this because Mr. Z's account about Germans (article just below this) and how the people became so different after having lived in the East or the West really got me thinking of the situation of my own people.

Armenians, the last 100 years or so, came mostly from Turkey. The largest influx was soon after the massacres. The nightmare some call 'the Armenian genocide' in Turkey lasted through and just after World War I. (There are still Turks who deny the murder of 1.5 million Armenians. Just for your interest, I link this also and add that I'm not fighting that war here at my blog. You must draw your own conclusions about whether the death of hundreds of thousands of Armenian mothers and children was just or deserved.)

Armenians, for the most part, are like Germans. One might say they're known for being highly intelligent and successful in the arts, business, sciences, etc. I've always been very proud to be an Armenian, especially here in California, where the community has contributed in many constructive ways, including William Saroyan or California's two-term conservative governor, George Deukmejian.

Ronald Reagan once said, "America is a shining city on a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere." Armenians were a part of all those immigrant groups who came here to be part of the beautiful dream on that hill. In the early 20th century, we came and learned the English language as fast as we could, even forbidding Armenian to be spoken at home if that would help the children learn their new language faster. I've heard tales by relatives of first setting eyes on that amazing lady in the ocean in New York, the Statue of Liberty, and what that meant to them. They'd arrived! They had a hopeful future, they were actually in AMERICA! They couldn't wait to fit in and wouldn't have taken a handout if they could in any way avoid it, and very rarely did. They are known for their hard work, solid families, and children who went on to higher education. Armenians respected America and were thrilled and grateful to be part of it.

Turkish Armenians aren't Turkish, but it's how we're regarded in contrast to Russian Armenians. What is Turkey now was largely Armenia at one time, many, many years ago. So, those families still in Turkey when borders were moved were known as Turkish Armenians. My mother's family was from Istanbul but, for various reasons, she was raised in Cairo, Egypt. It was during the forties that Armenians in Cairo were encouraged to "Go to Armenia, the land of milk and honey! Go back to your roots!" Many did....only to be stuck there as soon as the Iron Curtain slammed down, with Armenia on the wrong side of it. If it weren't for my mother's brother, our whole family's history would have been rewritten for the worst. He felt something funny was happening and, him being the man of the house after their father had died, he convinced my grandmother not to go there. Many weren't that lucky. They went and joined their fellow Armenians in the Homeland, that land whose capital is Yerevan and which had been the first nation in the world to name Christianity its religion. Mount Ararat, where Noah's Ark landed, was once in the area of Armenia. Those Armenians were stuck there for years, two generations were raised under Communism. (I should say that Armenia hasn't been part of the USSR for about 15 years now, it's its own independent country, so I use the term "Russian Armenians" to classify those who were stuck in the Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia those years back and even who are there now only to contrast with Turkish Armenians; they are technically not Russian Armenians anymore.)

Those Russian Armenians started to arrive in America about thirty years ago. They started coming in droves and settled in pockets of Los Angeles, a large number settled in Glendale, California. I can only talk for Los Angeles, but I think this story here is probably echoed throughout America. I sincerely hope not. I say that because the Armenians who came here from Russian Armenia, in general, seem to have lost their way, they don't seem of the same stock as the Turkish Armenians. How could that be? Their relatives were here for years, no problems for America; if anything, only good came from that. The Russian Armenian counterparts have changed Los Angeles in a different way.

I once spoke to a policeman who told me "You know, we never had an Armenian in our jails ....not for many, many years! Suddenly, half the jails are full of them. They're the ones from Russia." Did their genes change? Was it something in the Russian water? For years, Armenians came and contributed, never took! Suddenly, I'm told the Armenians are coming with the phone numbers and addresses of welfare offices in the LA area. They're coming prepared to live off of this great country which the earlier arrivals of Armenians had revered and didn't want to harm, only wanted to be a part of in the best possible way. We Armenians here today who see what's happening cringe and bemoan the fact that this is happening to our city. We see first hand how much the people must have suffered in Armenia to have adapted to this kind of entitlement mentality.

The same people, the same genes, same intelligence, but the drive doesn't seem to be there, even dignity and following the laws seem to have gone by the wayside. There are those who won't work, the children are not so encouraged to get a higher education, they've created street gangs! I must qualify this: it seems that it's "the more recent the arrival, the most problems"....many Russian Armenians have fit beautifully into Los Angeles over the last 30 years.

Yes, they lived under Communism, they had Black Market mentality drilled into them from an early age. Hard work had stopped paying off in the Old Country years ago, why bother? One must survive. As much as America was, and still is, the land of opportunity and the place which had welcomed millions of contributing and appreciative Armenians for years, suddenly even those Armenians are stunned at this new influx of people who, in general, only want to take, not contribute.

I like to hope that Armenians born here, whose ancestors had been stuck behind the Iron Curtain, will be influenced by those of us who set a good example for them. I hear some good things in that vain, I pray it's so. As America seems to be adapting, more and more, a socialist mentality of entitlement and government-owned companies, free education, free health care, one wonders which group of Armenians will feel most comfortable in this great land in, say, 10 years.

I don't have the answer for that, but I will say I'm proud to be a part of that group who came earlier, who appreciated all America meant and who, I think, have been part of the building of this great land. Mr. Z said this at the end of his story:

"Same people, same genes, same history; but what a difference under two distinctly different ideologies. America, please benefit from Germany's past. We owe it to you." I'll leave you with this in relating to the Armenian people:

"Same people, same genes, same history; but what a difference under two distinctly different ideologies. America, we Turkish Armenians who've benefited from you will never cease to be grateful. We will try with all our might to make sure America stays the great land it has been; a land which offers opportunity more than any other country in the whole wide world, a land which rewards hard work and integrity, a land that has been so good to those of us who understand your history and live by your laws. We'll try to keep it that way. We owe it to you."



FrogBurger said...

Very interesting and comparable to immigrants in France who came before welfare and social policies came into place, really in the 70s.
Before that immigrants from North Africa, Poland or Portugal perfectly integrated the French society. Now their kids or grand kids burn the buses because they don't have work.

Welfare doesn't work. Period. Socialism is not social.

FJ said...

Wow. Two gems in less than 24 hrs. Thank you for these wonderful tributes to the power of individual responsibility and liberty over collective socialist totalitarianism.

Anonymous said...

Well written Z. I agree with and can identify with everything you have written. My backround is very much like yours, except I`m older. It`s true, the Russian-Armenians that came here earlier were beautiful people and contributed much to the American and Armenian culture. Unfortunately the new-commers are spoiling it for those that are left.

Thanks Z for clarifying the differense. Bless you.

Miss G.

The Merry Widow said...

Nature versus nurture...I'm afraid that THIS sad tale indicates that "nurture" can be pervertted,and destroy what "nature" intended!

Totalitarianism in ANY of it's forms, perverts, twists and destroys that which is; good, healthy and FREE!

Jesus said that satan only comes to, "...kill, steal and destroy." Well guess what, so does communism/socialism/facism/mohammadism...guess that tells uswhere they come from...


Mustang said...

I’m speaking out of my league here, but I can say that it takes a full generation (30 years) or more for new comers to assimilate into a new culture. I’ve read that many immigrants from Russia end up going back. America is not the land of milk and honey of popular legend; oh sure, there is milk and honey in America … but you have to pay for it. And I think that running TO some place is a completely different mental process than running AWAY from some place.

This is a wonderful article, Z, but then, when have you ever not excelled in self-expression?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Z. Both you and Mr. Z, are the quintessential examples of immigrants or children of immigrants who understand the good fortune of themselves or their parents' or grandparents' decision to throw caution to the wind and follow a dream to come to America.

We are the richer for it.

"We owe it to you."
You say this, and with all sincerety, I know.

But in truth, we all owe this country our love, and loyalty for the opportunity we have all enjoyed to live in freedom.

I think what has infected the world and made so many weak and dependent, is pretty simple.

The bar has been lowered by the world's successful. By the very countries which sacrificed and worked so hard to gain success. Including America.

We mistook generosity, for good will. We thought we could simply give what was needed, when what was necessary was to set the example. To be a role model.

That's why Z,s ancestors came here. They came for a chance to be whatever they were willing to work for.

They came knowing it would be difficult, but it was enough to know they would be free to try, like all Americans.

For me, what we all owe, is to take care of ourselves, raise good responsible children to be good citizens, and to place no burden on our country.

And finally, to be grateful for America, and to stand up for her when she needs us. She needs us now, and Mr. Z and Z herself, are in front of the line.

Thanks Z,


Z said...

FrogBurger, many similar stories in France, you're right. What bothers me is when our and your media write things like "3 FRENCHMEN bombed....whatever.." as if it were people of French extraction. Yes, immigrant French Citizens sometimes do such things most Frenchmen wouldn't DREAM of doing to their beloved homeland.

FJ, thanks very much, I appreciate that.

Miss G! HI and thanks for commenting! I'm glad you recognize I'm not in any way slamming ALL Russian Armenians....NO WAY. My own aunt, (as you know),that wife of the uncle who told my grandmother NOT to go to Armenia during that purge in the forties, is Russian Armenian; her family are exemplary Americans who've been here for probably close to 90 years.

TMW...good point...Nature v Nurture.

Mustang..thanks, very high praise from someone who writes as well as you do.xx

Pris, WOW..thanks so much.
Isn't it unreal that we live in AMERICA and we don't have an official language, we have very open borders, we pay so much for illegals, we bend over backwards to be politically correct and put the minority WAAY above the majority's needs or wants......we treat OURSELVES like ONE BIG AMERICAN DIRTY DOORMAT, and then expect immigrants to respect us like the early arrivals did?
Back then, it was TOUGH to get here legally! And you wouldn't dream of doing otherwise IF you were clever enough to pull it off through our excellent and strict immigration offices!
Remember? You had to leave the country, then come back.. that's after having been sponsored to come here! Nobody came without a sponsor!
Yup...those people EARNED coming into America and delighted in her.

Today, they break our laws, come in and EXPECT handouts! And hate us, to boot.

Can we blame them? It's almost as if WE like ourselves so little we've jeopardized our sovereignty and our dignity.

But, our main point here and in Mr. Z's article is that the people are the same, but 'ruined' by the ideology. And that ideology ain't capitalism!

Anonymous said...

I worked for one of the Hovnanian family, one of Americas premier homebuliders, they're Armenian. Mr. H, as we called him, had no love for the Turks. He told us once that the Turks will offer a toast by saying "To your honor''. He told us they say this because ''They have none''. One of my highschool friends grandparents were Armenian. He told us they barely made it out of Armenia alive. Their parents(his great-grandparents0 and other family members we all killed. Johnnymac.

Law and Order Teacher said...

I had a friend on the first PD I was on that was Greek. He and his people had no love for the Turks.

Apparently the Turks weren't too gentle on their nearly 700 years rampage through Europe. History is a stubborn thing as are the fact surrounding it. It is only through the revision of history that facts are distorted. It is hard to learn from distorted history.

Z said...

It's supposed to be true that HItler used the Armenians as a good 'excuse' for killing Jews ..."nobody noticed when the Turks did THEN in"..who knows?

Johnny, my family has a slight connection with that family.

L&0 ..I think a lot of Turks are very good people...And one of the reasons I hope they NEVER admit what they did is so the EU won't take them in; it's one of the bigger sticking points, believe it or not. I like Europe too much to see what would happen. Most Americans don't know that EU membership means "NO more passports between EU countries.." they just will SWAAARMM..and it won't be the more sophisticated Ankara/Istanbul Turks, either.
I hate to make quite such generalizations, but for conversation sake, to make the points, we can't be qualifying every statement.
OF COURSE, there are wonderful Turkish people, upstanding Russian Armenians, etc etc.......I hope I make that clear as well.

HoosierArmyMom said...

Remember when Emma Lazarus's famous poem at the base of Lady Liberty used to ring true?

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Outstanding post Z. It reminds us of the time when our country, it's freedoms and culture meant something to those who came here, as demonstrated by your family and Frogburger's interview. Thank you for sharing your rich heritage here.

JINGOIST said...

Z I really enjoyed that look into the Armenian American culture. You're conclusion was spot on: the Armenian Russians who grew up under communism lived under an immoral regime. When the government ceases all pretenses at morality and resorts to brute force alone--the American income tax code--people adapt or they flee.

Remember the answer of the Soviet worker when challenged about the lack of productivity?

"They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work."

Pat Jenkins said...

mankind has always faced the problem of motivating individuals. whether it is parents, partners, or politicians. energizing the masses to excel is difficult!

Always On Watch said...

The same people, the same genes, same intelligence, but the drive doesn't seem to be there, even dignity and following the laws seem to have gone by the wayside.I've noticed the same with second and third generation South Koreans. The reasons are different, however. It seems that the children and grandchildren of South Koreans don't have the same ethos, particularly with regard to work ethic.

I've known only one first-generation Armenian, who lived here in the D.C. area for several years: Edna Mae George.

Are you at all familiar with her name, Z? Edna Mae was an opera singer and, for a time, my vocal coach. I lost track of her after she moved away, sometime around 1970. I believe that she went to Bowling Green College to teach and gave up her opera career so as to focus on her growing family.

christian soldier said...

When my Armenian friend -from Russia-stated that she believed Communism was a better system than America's - I was shocked-she's a hard worker-honest-but believes the government should "take care of people"...
Thank you - Z- for this post - it clarifies...

The Hermit said...

Z, I don't think those problems are peculiar to any specific ethnic group, though your discussion of your own background certainly provides a framework for the issue. In the 1980's we had a huge influx of Hispanics in Georgia. They were, by and large, pretty hardworking people who didn't cause trouble. But now the Hispanic population of older people has been eclipsed by the younger generation. These younger people find it far more edifying to sell drugs and deal in stolen property than they do to work. Even their own parents are afraid of them, and the gangs, such as the Latin Kings and MS13, terrorize the Hispanic community as much as anyone else. I'm not sure why this came about but I think it's a universal problem with immigrant communities across the country.

Z said...

Hoosier Army Mom....I'll never forget a cartoon I saw MANY years ago. It was the Statue of Liberty and the caption was:; "I said GIVE ME YOUR HUDDLED MASSES...not your BEFUDDLED ASSES!" yup!
So good to have you commenting here, great input. and thanks.

Always, no, but the name sounds very faintly familiar...

Thanks to you ALL...excellent input, for sure. No, Hermit, it's not restricted to Armenians, that's for SURE! But, it's more stunning because they're not (or WERE NOT) known for gets used to mooching: be careful, America.

CS, glad that clarified, that means a lot to me.

Jingo, thanks...never heard that phrase..PERFECT.


Steve Harkonnen said...

I have always called the Armenian Holocaust the "forgotten" one. It stands between the time of our Native American Holocaust (re: Andrew Jackson) and the Jewish Holocaust (Adolf Hitler).

So there's an interesting history lesson for anyone who never thought we could roll Jackson and Hitler into one category - committers of genocide. Jackson was every bit of an ethnic cleanser as Hitler.

Law and Order Teacher said...

I think your characterization and equivalence of Jackson with Hitler is inaccurate and somewhat overwrought. Hitler intentionally brought about the deaths of over six million people.

Jackson was in office when the Indian Removal Act was passed in 1830 and he no doubt believed the forced removal of the Indians from western Georgia was justified, despite a John Marshall led Supreme Court ruling to the contrary.

It was left to the hapless Martin Van Buren to carry out the law in 1838-39. There are many adjectives to cover the "Trail of Tears" but to compare Jackson to Hitler is a stretch. The intention of the action was removal not murder. The soldiers who carried out the removal could have taken different action and saved lives, they chose instead to rush the movement to Indian territory without regard to the well-being of the Indians. Despicable? Yes. Genocidal, no.

I'm not defending Jackson, I just always tell my students to watch out comparing anyone else to Hitler. Someday, as more information is known Stalin will compare, these two stand alone as murderers. It does the study of history well to maintain proportion.

heidianne jackson said...

great, great, great post, z. thank you for this. it would be interesting to see the actual figures for the differing groups and the first waves vs. current waves, no?

pat, you said: "mankind has always faced the problem of motivating individuals. whether it is parents, partners, or politicians. energizing the masses to excel is difficult!"

not true. it is only difficult to motivate the masses when the rewards are not commensurate with the effort. socialism - in any form - give you a system where the rewards are not commensurate. sort of like in the unions - there is a scale of pay and that is that. you get that pay whether you work diligently or not. why work diligently and efficiently when you receive the same reward either way.

the devil is always in the details - in the case of socialism (unions, marxism, whatever you want to call it) the details are that lazy people get the most reward. and thus, everyone (or very nearly so) strives to be lazy. or to manipulate the system to become one of the "elites."

it's corruption, pure and simple.

Z said...

Steve, I've called the Armenian genocide the "low tech holocaust"/swords, starvation, rape (in front of the relatives), SLAVERY, hangings(in front of the relatives) ..the Jews were kill in the more "high tech holocaust'......ovens.

It all makes me SHIVER, of course.

L&0...I think that what happened to the Indians is terrible and I don't know enough about the history, though I'd like to, to really grasp what happened. Blame goes all the way around, I believe.

Odd that our students are recently taught that America's scum because of it...when they're NOT taught the atrocities of other countries' leaders quite as damningly.

Thanks, HA...excellent addition.

Law and Order Teacher said...

My point is that no one, and I mean no one, can stack up to Hitler in pure killing fury. Stalin, as information leaks out of the old (new) Soviet Union will certainly take his place as the symbol of evil. Jackson did not set out to murder the Indians, he set out to move them. He was out of office when the removal began. He bears responsibility, no doubt, but he is hardly in league with Hitler and Stalin. No one is. The Trail of Tears was despicable and heartless, but it wasn't genocide.

Z said...

I agree, L&0.

I will say that the zeal with which Turks killed Armenians was pretty darned stunning; just the numbers were different. parents slain in their homes in front of the children, etc. Kurds then moved into the beautiful homes of Armenians in Turkey, did you know that? I can hardly blame them, there they were, standing empty after the Armenians were murdered or marched out (grandmother was in one of the marches as a 9 yr old girl)...
Hitler certainly is the worst, doubt.

As for Indians, I appreciate your information. Heartless is right.

beamish said...

One of my favorite "nu-metal" bands, System of a Down, are all Armenian-Americans.

Lyrically, they're what you'd expect from a punk metal band (all forms of nonsense, including leftism) but musically they do incoporate some traditional Armenian melodic constructions into their sound.

They're probably from the Russian end of the Armenian spectrum.

Anonymous said...

Great piece, Miss Z.
I think it is the communism. It just stunts human growth and development.
( wholesome development, let me say.)


beamish said...

Count me among the Andrew Jackson haters, but the only thing Andrew Jackson and Adolf Hitler had in common was their left-wing politics.

Hitler didn't have a Supreme Court decision protecting property rights to ignore, is all.

Z said...

Beamish, just checked out the band.
Not only are they Armenian, they're from Glendale, the town I whined about in my piece!!\They won a grammy in 2006.

I have to say they're diverse, that's for sure..from Lonely Day, almost a folk piece, to BYOB which is about as raunchy as it gets.....very diverse.
They even perform on Oriental rugs (oh, brother).

I have to say I didn't hate it, but maybe I'm prejudice in their favor!?

beamish said...

Well, I like System, despite their decidedly leftist "social justice" advocacy.

I don't listen to music for political content for the same reason I don't ask Dick Cheney to feed my need for Drop-D scale riff metal.


beamish said...

"BYOB" at least has a nice catchy hip-hop chorus, if it is "why don't Presidents fight the war / why do they always send the poor?" style leftism (the answer - they send the poor so the rich can record Grammy winning albums)

Their "raunchiest" song is probably "Violent Pornography" (obvious, huh) but I have a feeling you are labelling the speed-metal riffage as "raunchy."

Z said...

Ya, I saw that SOCIAL JUSTICE thing, too......ugh. Plus, I have to forgive them the lyric "The most loneliest day of my life"
I keep SAYING immigrants should learn English.

By the way, from their accents, I'd say they might not be immigrants at all, but who knows?

Anonymous said...

"In the early 20th century, we came and learned the English language as fast as we could, even forbidding Armenian to be spoken at home if that would help the children learn their new language faster."

The good old days, that is what made America such a great nation, how things have changed now, thanks to the liberals, immigrants are now trying to bring their own culture over as fast as they can.

"....but I will say I'm proud to be a part of that group who came earlier, who appreciated all America meant and who, I think, have been part of the building of this great land."

Good on ya Z, the western world needs more folks like you, not more useless parasites.

Ducky's here said...

Things seem pretty mellow in Watertown. This must be a Cali thing.

Z said...

Thanks, everyone...

MK, that's really nice of you!

Beamish, we wrote privately on this so I don't need to say much here, but let me add it's not a bad group at all. And,yes, Armenian. WHO KNEW? (you did, I know, I know!)

Ducky, Watertown's Armenians have been there for maybe longer than even California' the piece, it'll help you understand my point. thanks.

beamish said...


If the "nu-metal" scene is where you're at, you can't go wrong with System of a Down, who pretty much laid down the foundation for the genre. It's sort of a "world music" meets "riff rock" thing.

My current joy is Finnish speed metal. :)

heidianne jackson said...

i like the leningrad cowboys and they're FROM finland - does that count, beamish?

system of a down is my son's favorite band at this point. i'm sort of sick of them right now...

Z said...

Heidianne...They're all Armenian. I forbid you to be sick of them (Smile!)

Beamish...Finnish Speed metal?
What, are they world champ ice skaters? Isn't Sonja Henie one of those? Yes, I do believe I'm right :-)

beamish said...

I was rocking some Finnish metal on my blog over the weekend "Revontulet" ("the magic lights" / Aurora Borealis) by Sonata Artica. They use a lot of traditional Scandanavian music, and speed it up to full melodic arpeggio tastiness. Not for the high of blood pressure or glass of jaw.


cube said...

Great post. I'm not Armenian, but it gave me goosebumps because I consider many Armenians my family.

I see some close parallels to the Cubans who immigrated here prior to the Mariel boatlift and those who came later.

BTW Mr. Cube tried to find the post by Mr. Z and he couldn't find it. I'm on my way over there now and will direct him. Mr. Cube is very interested in the Armenian stuff so thanks for the heads up.

Trestin said...

I just added this to the Hall of Fame