I read a few excerpts from Stories My Father Never Told Me to an enthusiastic audience last Sunday at St. David Armenian Church in Boca Raton.
I was quite pleased that the book received such a warm response. Even more important, the audience responded strongly to the message at the end of my talk.
As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Genocide, Armenians face unique challenges posed by the Turkish government’s continuing and emphatic denial of history.
Few other ethnic or religious groups are subjected to taunts and insults merely for mourning their dead.
The pressure applied by the deniers is sometimes invisible but it has been extremely effective in distorting news stories and in blocking Armenians’ access to some media outlets and speaking venues.
I’m told that even some well-known Armenian-Americans have opted out of appearing at commemorative events because they fear professional setbacks. I was incensed when I heard that. After all, our grandparents weren’t allowed to opt-out of the Genocide.
The irony of any Armenian in this country being afraid to speak out is extraordinary: in Turkey, where false history is a matter of law, they’d face real sanctions. But here, any Armenian with a story to tell can’t be stopped.
Here’s how I put it on Sunday in a message I’ll repeat each time I speak:
As a long-time journalist, I’m a great believer in the power of free speech to educate and invigorate a society—and I’m certain facts obliterate falsehood if they’re allowed into the light.
For Armenians, that light has never been brighter or more powerfully focused than it is this year as we commemorate the Genocide’s centennial. We must all take that opportunity to tell our story as loudly we can, and let the truth prevail.