The Heat is ON!
On Friday afternoon I received word that Congresswoman Harman was scheduled to be at a community event in the Lakewood/Long Beach area the following morning for Warren Furutani, a candidate for CA State Assembly. It was this politician's campaign kick off event and I had heard that a group of Armenians were planning on attending to confront the Congresswoman. Since the location of the event was literally two blocks away from my father's business in Long Beach, and I often go there on Saturday mornings to collect the mail and check on things anyway, I stopped by determined to approach the Congresswoman, identify myself as a constituent of hers and give her a piece of my mind.
I got there as the Congresswoman was addressing the hall. I was glad to see that it was an informal gathering in a small location. I knew I would definitely have an opportunity to get near the Congresswoman. The next thing I know AYF members are marching into the event with signs and shouting "Harman is a Liar! Genocide Denier" For a moment I was in shock as I took in what was happening. I wasn't expecting that at all, and I could tell neither was anyone else at the event. The next thing I know I'm seeing Furutani supporters yelling at AYF members and Congresswoman Harman being escorted towards the back door. She was walking right past me and a staffer of hers was trying to block me from getting near her, but when I identified myself as a constituent and stated that I was there of my own accord independent of the protesters, the Congresswoman told her staffer to allow me through to speak with her.
Congresswoman Harman caught off guard
I had a good few minutes alone with the Congresswoman and was able to give her my schpeal. I was able to say everything I wanted to say and hopefully I got my point across. I pointed out to the Congresswoman that I had vouched for her to my community and garnered their support in her past campaigns and how she had let me down. I pointed out that inside the event she had spoken about democracy and how her actions in regards to H. Res. 106 were contrary to what a democracy stands for.
I asked her where her loyalties lie if not with her community and constituents who obviously think she is failing at representing them properly which it is her job to do. Kris, I used your line about how nothing in the Middle East has changed since she signed on as a co-sponsor. She stated she didn't want to hold the current day "democratic" government accountable for something that happened "over a 100 years ago" I pointed out that this is the BEST time to hold them accountable when they are trying to show the world that they are "democratic" and trying to get into the EU. I asked her how she would have liked it if someone had told her grandfather that the time wasn't right for Holocaust recognition. I told her no time is going to be a good time and that this time is as good as any and that I would expect her to be leading the efforts to pass H. Res 106 not leading the efforts to quash it.
I also made it clear that her "over a hundred years ago" statement is offensive to me since it was MY grandfather who survived the Genocide and told me about it firsthand reminding her that the wounds of Armenians are still fresh and not ancient history. She tried to show that she is compassionate by saying that she is dealing with a president in Iran who says the Holocaust didn't happen and she asked if we could imagine how that makes her feel. I agreed that President Ahmedinajad's sentiments are a shame but the way she's been feeling is EXACTLY how we've been feeling since day one and we still feel this way and now she is part of the cause and contributing to it. I asked her how she can live with herself knowing that she is serving the interests of a country that denies Genocide thus making her a contributor to and enabler of Genocide denial. She reiterated that she does not deny the occurrence of the Armenian Genocide however she feels the efforts of Turkey in Darfur need to be taken into account. I found that comment offensive as well. I couldn't believe she was suggesting that Turkey needed to be patted on the back for their efforts in Darfur while still denying the Armenian Genocide.
I urged the Congresswoman to repeal her letter to Lantos, change her stance and vote for the Resolution. I told her it's not to late to do the right thing and redeem herself. I even got up the courage to ask her what had REALLY caused her change of heart and if it had something to do with her personal issues with Pelosi or if maybe the Turkish lobby was monetarily contributing to her campaign. She did NOT answer those questions and dodged them like the good little Politician that she is.
We had a healthy exchange and then were joined by a couple other people who approached her as well. The dialogue and back and forth continued all the while with the AYF members in the background. I do hope a formal letter of apology is sent on behalf of the AYF to Furutani as a gesture to explain that we have nothing against him and are sorry for interrupting his campaign kickoff but we had to do what we had to do. I noticed the disdain of his supporters and staff towards our community so I hope that relationship can be salvaged since he probably will win the Assembly seat.
This fight is STILL NOT OVER! Keep calling, emailing, faxing...Congresswoman Harman still believes the vote will not go forth, her efforts against the Armenian-American community continue therefore so will ours to make her regret the day she betrayed the Armenians!
I'm off to call her office and ask for some statistical data to see how many phone calls, emails, and letters of disgust they got when she initially signed on a Co-Sponsor in comparison the volume their dealing with now.
Here's the youtube clip of the confrontation with Congresswoman Harman and members of the Armenian community http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxc93X-l64w OR http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPtJrYgngKo