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Armenia


Human Kindness

Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil, struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness.

~ Vasily Grossman, LIFE AND FATE

In this bleak time, I find hope in the organizing I have been doing with Jewish Voice for Peace, We Are Not Numbers, Writers Against the War on Gaza, and like-minded friends and comrades. Last week I went to Albany for the Not on Our Dime campaign rally and press conference organized by State Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani. I count myself lucky that our family is united in opposition to Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza, and that our circle of friends is filled with people who have been speaking out against the atrocities we are witnessing daily on our smart phones.

I have been so focused on the horror in Gaza that I can only tolerate a few minutes a day of contemplating the dire situation in Armenia, as the Armenian government’s tense negotiations over demarcating “disputed” areas of the border with Azerbaijan have resulted in the handover of some villages, which is causing much internal strife. In the meantime, in ethnically cleansed Artsakh, Azerbaijan’s destruction of Armenian cultural heritage proceeds apace. And then there is the dubious land deal threatening the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem, which occurs at the intersection of things Armenian and Palestinian. 

In March, I wrote a talk for a beleaguered group of dissident grad students at an unnamed university, which according to the students’ accounts has turned into a quasi-totalitarian state.  This essay, in which I avoided certain terms at the request of my hosts who feared repercussions of stating things too baldly in that context, was recently published by The Markaz Review: “A Small Kernel of Human Kindness: Some Notes on Solidarity and Resistance.” 

PalFest posted video of my introduction to the Freedom To Write for Palestine event at Judson Church on May 7. My friend and Armenian tutor Sosy Mishoyan and I did a Western Armenian translation of Mosab Abu Toha’s poem, “Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear.” Two of my mentee Haya Abu Nasser’s powerful poems appeared in The Massachusetts Review at the end of last week. And my spouse James wrote an open letter to Columbia’s Task Force on Antisemitism in response to said task force’s dangerous conflation of antisemitism and anti-Zionism.

Beloved Armenian illustrator, artist, and writer Nonny Hogrogian passed away recently, and her obituary in the New York Times gives a sense of her long and storied life, most of it spent with her devoted husband and collaborator David Kherdian, to whom I sent my profound condolences. Nonny’s Caldecott Award picture book One Fine Day is a perennial favorite, and it is my custom to send a copy of that book to friends upon the birth of their first child.

On a brighter note, James and I recently celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. The week before that milestone, our daughter Djuna graduated from New York University Law School. The commencement ceremony was interrupted twice by the unfurling Palestinian flags in front of the podium and approximately 100 of the 500 graduates, including Djuna, were wearing keffiyehs. In September she will be starting a fellowship at the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU. And next week our elder child Noah’s debut feature film Summer Solstice will be playing at the IFC Center in Manhattan.


Columbia’s Gaza Solidarity Encampment

I have been meaning to write about Columbia’s Gaza Solidarity Encampment since last week, and if I had written this last weekend, the tenor would be very different. Two nights ago, the encampment was destroyed by the New York Police Department, and the students barricaded in Hamilton Hall were arrested along with others in the encampment and outside the university gates. At the same time, hundreds of students were also brutalized and arrested at City College twenty blocks north. But for almost two weeks, the encampment on the Columbia Quad was a beautiful space of community and learning where Palestinian freedom was the focus. And students at Columbia started a movement that has to date spread to over 150 campuses around the country, and their principled actions were seen and appreciated by Palestinians in Gaza and around the globe. My Palestinian friend Haya, who escaped Gaza and is now in exile in Malaysia, wrote: These students are so strong and so great; I swear they’re teaching a generation how to fight for freedom. They are talking about Columbia University’s protests everywhere on Arabic website and my friends’ Facebook pages.

When the students took over Hamilton Hall in the early hours on Tuesday and renamed it Hind’s Hall, after a six-year old Palestinian girl whose desperate and doomed calls for help were heard round the world, I could only think back to the 1985 blockade of Hamilton that I was part of (and my post on X/Twitter about this went viral). I wasn’t one of the organizers, but when my friends and I heard what had happened we immediately ran to the newly named Mandela Hall and were there in shifts for the next three weeks. In 1968 the students had barricaded themselves IN the same building, but we were outside with the exterior doors padlocked. In the daytime there was a festival atmosphere, and at night it was mostly calm, although I remember at least one night when we were afraid the NYPD was going to come in to clear us—it turned out to be mostly a scare tactic. There was a lot of surveillance by Columbia security–which seems quaint now. Back then it was men with cameras. Now they have surveillance drones buzzing overhead and have deployed new—not always reliable—facial recognition technology. And Columbia’s president in 1985, Michael Sovern, came out to speak with us, unlike the current president, Baroness (yes, she is a literal Baroness) Manouche Shafik. I remember singing a version of a freedom song, “Sovern can you hear us, we shall not be moved, like a tree that’s planted by the water, we shall not be moved.” And we all despised him because he represented everything oppressive about the institution. But in retrospect, compared to the Baroness, he seems downright cuddly.

My spouse teaches at Columbia, and we live near the campus. James has been speaking out repeatedly and strongly about the misuse of accusations of antisemitism to smear and undermine the student movement, hurling all his Jewishness against the conflation of anti-Zionism and antisemitism. It was so awful two nights ago when hundreds and hundreds of cops streamed into the Quad and the surrounding blocks. Our entire neighborhood was a closed military zone. And I heard they were using tear gas, but apparently not. “No tear gas was used, but flash-bang devices designed to distract were used as police moved in, the NYPD spokesperson said.” Flash bang devices. So sad that the beautiful encampment was cleared, and all those students were arrested and that there will be cops on the campus until May 17, at the request of Manouche Shafik.

What transpired on Tuesday night was much scarier and uglier than what we faced in 1985. The current students are principled and brave in the face of this unconscionable level of violence and repression. On the night of April 24, I went to the encampment for a teach-in on the Armenian Genocide led by the students of Columbia Armenians for Palestine. They talked beautifully and movingly about the 1915 Genocide, the ethnic cleansing of Artsakh, and the connections between those tragedies and what is unfolding in Gaza right now, as a trapped civilian population is being bombed, starved, and immiserated. While they spoke in turn, they held up three flags—Armenia, Artsakh, and Assyria. Their solidarity was authentic, intelligent, and inspiring.

These students are watching a genocide stream in real time on their smart phones, and they are seeing the bankruptcy of all our institutions: political, academic, and cultural. They keep insisting that all eyes should be on Gaza, not on them. Gaza is their Vietnam. And the Baroness who runs Columbia—along with billionaire trustees and cartoon villain politicians egging her on—has radicalized a generation. 

Nancy Kricorian

P.S. If you are in NYC, please join us next Tuesday, May 7 at 7 p.m. for FREEDOM TO WRITE FOR PALESTINE at Judson Church. Roster of writers and tickets available here. I’ll soon send an update on the Authors for Change at PEN America Campaign.


Two Fronts

Armenian Refugee camp at Ras al Ain

I have been distracted, lately cycling between rage and grief, while having difficulty sleeping. Images and stories about Israel’s horrific genocidal campaign in Gaza are the stuff of nightmares. I often think about my Armenian genocide survivor grandmother’s stories about her experiences during The Deportations. They were starving, the dead and dying were all around, and she ended up one among 8,000 orphaned Armenian children in a refugee camp in the Syrian desert on the outskirts of Ras al Ain.
 
I wake up in the middle of the night to check Instagram and WhatsApp to see if my friends in Gaza have posted updates or responded to my messages. I want to know whether they have survived to see another day. One of them has lost thirty pounds because of how little food there is. Another has been displaced four times and is living in a tent.
 
Since 2015, I have been part of the We Are Not Numbers literary mentorship program that pairs established authors with young writers in Gaza. Enas, one of my former mentees, left Gaza for the first time in her life to attend the Palestine Writes conference in September, and was unable to return home—she’s living with an aunt in New Jersey and is worrying around the clock about her family, who are displaced in Gaza with little access to clean water, adequate food, and medicine, and under constant threat of being killed in Israel’s indiscriminate bombing campaign that has to date murdered over 11,000 children. I helped raise money for Hossam, another mentee, who has a large social media presence and is therefore a particular target, to get across the border with his family, but the list is long and the wait seems interminable. I started with a new mentee, Haya, several weeks ago, and I’m sick with worry about her and Hossam. I recently worked with Haya on this moving piece about what daily life is like for her right now.
 
In addition to this brutal reality, repression on the Columbia and Barnard campuse are entirely bonkers, and my spouse James, who has been teaching at Columbia for over thirty years, is spending hours writing letters to the new “Task Force on Anti-Semitism.” This task force includes no actual experts on the subject—and there are a few of those on the faculty who might have been invited to join. The task force is co-chaired by known Israel boosters, and when James asked them how they define anti-semitism, they replied that they don’t have a definition. They are just getting a sense of the feelings and the vibes on the campus. Meanwhile, two weeks ago several Israeli students used a banned chemical weapon against a protest on the Quad, sending close to a dozen students to the hospital. 
 
On the German cultural scene, it seems that collective guilt about the Holocaust has morphed into a feeling that Germany must stand by Israel no matter how genocidal the Israeli government’s actions are. An artist friend, who lives half-time in Berlin and half-time in Brooklyn, has been sending us weekly updates about the cancellations and other forms of punishment being meted out against writers and artists who call for a ceasefire or advocate for accountability. She told us about her friend the Bosnian-Serbian novelist Lana Bastašić (I read her award-winning novel CATCH THE RABBIT recently and was very impressed) who has been subject to this harsh discipline. This week I saw Lana’s principled and humane statement on Instagram, which was then published on LitHub.
 
It is clear that we need to be fighting on two fronts—and excuse me for using military metaphors, but this really does feel like a struggle for survival. We must redouble our calls for a ceasefire and our efforts to push the Biden Administration to stop arming, funding, and providing diplomatic cover for a genocide in Gaza. On the same day that the International Court of Justice ruled that South Africa had presented a plausible case of genocide against Israel, the U.S. government announced it was “pausing” its support for UNRWA, the largest and most effective aid agency on the ground in Gaza, increasing the threat of more deaths by hunger and disease. You can donate to UNRWA’s life-saving work here. And at the same time that we take action to stop a genocide, we must also push back against the silencing of advocacy for Palestinian freedom. 
 




My Heart Burns for My People

This is a note I sent to my Armenian friends yesterday morning.

Dear Friends,

We are devastated and heartbroken about the events of the past three days in Artsakh, and rightfully terrified of what comes next. We feel helpless. We are on social media reading desperate accounts from Artsakh, and furiously posting and reposting the dire news in the hope that someone will hear and possibly take action, but very few people seem to care, and governments issue toothless condemnations while a genocide unfolds. We are sending emails to and calling our elected officials. We are wringing our hands. We are gnashing our teeth. We know that they won’t be satisfied with Artsakh alone. They want their “Zanzegur Corridor,” and Aliyev calls the Republic of Armenia “Western Azerbaijan.” We are skeptical that Armenian political leaders are up to the task at hand, and we are skeptical that the opposition has a better plan. We are sitting in our comfortable homes while our people are being starved, shelled, and are possibly about to be slaughtered like sheep. Again. We can’t turn our faces away from the suffering, but we must turn our faces away from the suffering at least for short periods because it is intolerable and there’s very little we can do.

Ժողովուրդիս համար սիրտս կ’այրի։

I’m thinking of each of you right now. May the violence soon be over so we can grieve and mend. Sending you love,

Nancy

Nancy Kricorian


Day to Day

“Too much of a past, too little ahead, but wait a minute, we always lived day to day, so where’s the difference?”

~ Etel Adnan, Shifting the Silence (2020)

*

Last week my friend Barbara Harris passed away after a long illness, and Gerry, her beloved husband of 67 years, asked me to speak about her activism at the funeral this Monday. Barbara and I met in 2003 through CODEPINK NYC and worked closely together for over 13 years. In 2008, The New York Times ran a profile of Barbara and the campaign she organized working to keep predatory military recruiters from targeting vulnerable high school students. Mel, a former CODEPINK NYC staff member commented, “Barbara was a gift to the anti-war movement and the activist community. Whenever she showed up to a demo, I felt like things were going to be okay. She had so much knowledge and such a calming presence. Cristina and I joked about making Barbara dolls to carry around for reassurance when things got rough.”

And speaking of things getting rough, yesterday Azerbaijan launched a full scale military assault against the people of Artsakh, announcing the planned “evacuation” of the Armenian population. Of course, anyone who was following the news could have seen this coming, but that doesn’t make it any less devastating. The use of the word “evacuation” clearly indicates a campaign of ethnic cleansing. Governments, NGO’s, and human rights groups have issued condemnations, but the shelling and terror continued undeterred. The Azerbaijani Army is known for its torture and beheading of captured Armenian soliders, and even civilians are fair game for their violence and cruelty. The fourth century Amaras Monastery, established by St. Gregory the Illuminator, is now under Azerbaijani control. And if the Azerbaijani government stays true to form, they will say that it’s an “Albanian Christian” monument and sandblast the Armenian inscriptions. It’s heartbreaking and infuriating to watch all this happening in real time on social media while the world does nothing. And Turkey’s ever helpful Erdogan announced at the U.N. General Assembly yesterday that Armenia must open the so-called “Zanzegur Corridor” allowing Azerbaijani passage through the territory of the sovereign Armenian Republic. This morning a “ceasefire” was announced and the Azerbaijani army took full control of the area. I’m dreading what comes next. You can follow what is going on via live updates from EVN Report and you can contact your elected officials using this tool from the Armenian Assembly of America.

Yesterday I also received word from my literary agent that she was closing on the last few open points in the contract for my new novel with Red Hen Press, a small, independent, non-profit publisher based in Pasadena. Red Hen will publish The Burning Heart of the World, a novel about an Armenian family in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War, in 2025. This submission process was long and grueling, and I cannot tell you what a relief it is that the book has found a home, and with a press whose values align with so many of mine.

I’m leaving on Friday for a two-week trip called “The Mushrooms and Culture of Greece.” My friend Betsy and I will be traveling to Zagori in northwestern Greece with a group tour led by several radical mycologists. If you follow me on social media, expect to see lots of photos of mushrooms, food-laden tables, mountain villages, and the rocky shore.

Day to day, I try to open my heart to the sweetness of this tough world.

P.S. For your reading pleasure, here’s an interview with our filmmaker progeny. And here’s an article about The Wisdom of Fungi.

Nancy Kricorian


The Good Stuff

My mood has been a little down lately—family health struggles, no news yet on the book front, rising fascism in this country and around the world, and other calamities I don’t have the heart to enumerate—so I haven’t much felt like composing one of these notes. But there have been some bright spots—things to watch and read and see—that I’ve been collecting to share. And here they are.

Watch JURY DUTY on Amazon FreeVee. This is the best TV I’ve watched in a very long time, and I have recommended it to a dozen friends all of whom have loved it. It’s funny and deeply kind.

Watch this trailer and then go to the movie theater to see ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME MARGARET. Abby Ryder Fortson’s performance is phenomenal. Then watch the documentary JUDY BLUME FOREVER.

Read this beautiful previously unpublished story by the late Laurie Colwin in The New Yorker.

Read my spouse James’s Op-Ed about the Writers Guild Strike in The Guardian.

Check out this piece about Armenia’s vibrant new fine wine and dining scene in Food & Wine.

Read about Harout Bastajian, a Lebanese-Armenian artist renowned for painting domes in mosques around the world. He volunteered to paint a mosque in Dearborn, Michigan, and years later when he fell on hard times in Beirut, the local community helped him relocate to Michigan.

Read about Arno Yeretzian and Abril Books of Glendale, California, both national treasures, and then order some books from Abril to support their work.

Also, we made it through the winter. It’s Spring! Get outside and look at the flowers, the migrating and nesting birds, and the mushrooms that are starting to pop up.

Nancy Kricorian


Walking in the Woods

I have just returned to the city after ten days in the country during peak fall foliage season. The hills have been ablaze with color. This summer’s drought has given way to autumn rains, and mushrooms have been appearing on the forest floor. Each day, I walked the trails wearing my binoculars and carrying a canvas bag with my mushroom collecting tools. I selected one or two unfamiliar mushrooms during each foray to bring back to the house for identification. Exciting finds of the past week were the Indigo Milk Cap and the Lobster Mushroom. I saw a Barred Owl gliding through the forest canopy to land on a high branch, and I have been hearing the toot of the Red-breasted Nuthatch and the laugh of the Pileated Woodpecker. My walks in the woods help keep me balanced in this off-kilter world. 

In the middle of September, when Azerbaijan launched a military attack on Armenia, I was an emotional wreck. Apparently, Azerbaijan’s territorial ambitions are not confined to Nagorno-Karabagh–it has designs on land within the internationally recognized borders of the Republic of Armenia. The genocidal rhetoric of Azerbaijan’s Aliyev is well documented. A video circulated on social media showing Azerbaijani forces murdering surrendered Armenian soldiers was authenticated by numerous outlets, and this war crime was condemned by Human Rights Watch. As Russia is up to its neck with its bloody war against Ukraine, Armenia has been mostly alone facing a brutal petro-dictatorship aligned with Turkey’s Erdogan. Azerbaijan recently signed a lucrative gas deal with the European Union, which has muted the response from European leaders. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi led a Congressional Delegation to Armenia last month, and another U.S. Congressional Delegation is in the planning stages. At this point, Armenia needs all the friends it can get, including the U.S., Russia, Iran, and France. A ceasefire is mostly holding, and negotiations between the Armenian and Azerbaijani governments are ongoing, but the situation along the border is volatile and potentially explosive. 

I’ve been volunteering with the Josh Riley campaign in New York’s 19th Congressional District. Please make sure you are registered to vote. We can’t let the Red Wave drown us–mainstream Democrats are an uninspired lot, but the fascist alternative is terrifying. 

Nancy Kricorian


Solace in Winter

As we enter the third year of the pandemic, this winter feels dark and long, and the spring seems far away. As usual, I look for solace in the natural world and also in my continuing study of the Armenian language. Below is a short piece that I wrote about a recent snowy morning. My Western Armenian teacher Sosy Mishoyan corrected my mistakes, but as time goes by I’m making fewer of them.

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Սփոփանք

Անցեալ գիշեր ձիւն տեղաց, իսկ այս առտուն ճերմակ վերմակը ամբողջ մարգը կը ծածկէ։ Վերարկուս ու կօշիկներս կը հագնիմ եւ գլխարկս ու ձեռնոցներս կը դնեմ։ Շատ պաղ է, բայց` շատ գեղեցիկ։

Լճակին շուրջ կը պտտիմ։ Երկինքին մէջ երկու բազէ կը սաւառնի, իսկ մացառին մէջ պզտիկ թռչուններ սերմ ու հատապտուղ կը փնտռեն։ Յանկարծ ոտքերուս մօտէն դաշտամուկ մը կը վազէ ու կը մտնէ պզտիկ ձիւնէ փապուղիին մէջ։

Ձիւնը նորէն կը սկսի թափիլ։ Աշխարհը ճերմակ եւ լուռ է։

Նենսի Գրիգորեան

Յունուար 2022

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Nancy Kricorian


Weaponizing History

This week the U.S. House of Representatives, in a rare moment of bipartisanship and in a rebuke to the Turkish government, overwhelmingly passed a resolution acknowledging the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923. The lead sponsor of the bill, California Democrat Adam Schiff, said, “Given that the Turks are once again involved in ethnic cleansing—this time the Kurds who live along the Turkish-Syrian border—it seemed all the more appropriate to bring up a resolution about Ottoman efforts to annihilate an entire people in the Armenian genocide.”

The day before the vote, in an op-ed in the Washington Post, my friend Khatchig Mouradian, lecturer at Columbia University, called on Congress to take a principled stand on the issue, saying, “The bipartisan sport of killing Armenian genocide bills and weaponizing the suffering of its victims must end. By passing this resolution, the House can help ensure that the Armenian genocide is acknowledged and commemorated, but no longer exploited.”

The final tally on H. Res. 296 was 405 yeas, 11 nays, and 3 presents. One of the most perplexing and disappointing votes was that of Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar, who released a statement explaining her present vote that included a sentence echoing Turkish government propaganda on the issue: “But accountability and recognition of genocide should not be used as cudgel in a political fight. It should be done based on academic consensus outside the push and pull of geopolitics.” As Turkish President Erdogan phrased it in December 2018, “On the question of genocide, please let’s leave the discussions to the Historians and let’s listen to what the Historians have to say.” Despite a century of Turkish denial, both Omar and Erdogan should know that there is extensive historical documentation and overall consensus on the issue. And, as Armenians, Kurds, and Palestinians well know, how could a political gesture happen outside the push and pull of geopolitics?

Predictably enough, the day after the vote, as part of a televised speech to members of his party, Erdogan denounced the U.S. House of Representatives, saying, “The countries who have stains of genocide, slavery, colonialism in their history have no right to give lessons to Turkey.” Part of the problem with these demagogues, such as Erdogan and Trump, is that there is always some twisted truth in their outrageous statements. Yes, the U.S. has its own shameful history of genocide, slavery, and colonialism, and yes, the timing of this vote had to do with Congress’s fury over Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds and Turkey’s incursion into Syria, and yet, this Congressional resolution was long overdue.

Generations of Armenian-Americans have been working for decades to prod the U.S. government to take a stand on this issue. In 1984, Congress passed a resolution designating April 24, 1985 as “National Day of Remembrance of Man’s Inhumanity to Man,” stipulating it should be “a day of remembrance for all the victims of genocide, especially the one and one-half million people of Armenian ancestry who were the victims of the genocide perpetrated in Turkey between 1915 and 1923, and in whose memory this date is commemorated by all Armenians and their friends throughout the world.” A companion bill was introduced but never passed in the Senate. It is unlikely that a companion version of this week’s House Resolution 296 will make it through the Senate. But this vote in the House, which was due in large part to grassroots organizing, has again put Armenian history on the front pages of newspapers around the world.

One hundred years of denial makes this tragic history an open wound for Armenians, and for Armenians the images of Kurds being driven from their lands are dismally familiar and even traumatizing. This gesture by the U.S. Congress doesn’t undo any of that, but it does mean that for a brief moment we aren’t being “gaslighted.” Our history has been described, discussed, and acknowledged. This isn’t justice, but it is meaningful and important.

In an interview with France 24, Khatchig offered this sage analysis:

After decades of denial, it has become very difficult to come to terms with the past. Turkey is also worried about what would follow an acknowledgment: Reparations for the utter dispossession and destruction of an entire nation…But it’s also important to note that in recent years, in Turkish civil society, there have been many intellectuals, scholars, writers who HAVE spoken out on the importance of confronting the past and delivering some measure of justice to the victims of genocide.

Garo Paylan, an ethnic Armenian Minister of Parliament in Turkey from the pro-minority leftist HDP party, wrote on Twitter: “US Congress has recognized the Armenian Genocide. Because my own country has been denying this for 105 years, our tragedy is discussed in other world parliaments. The real healing for Armenians will come when we can talk about the Armenian Genocide in Turkey’s own parliament.”

Nancy Kricorian

New York City


No Friends But The Mountains

Armenian tent camp at Ras al-Ain circa 1916
Armenian tent camp at Ras al-Ain circa 1916

The past few days I’ve been saddened and appalled by the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish region of northeastern Syria. When I see in the news the name Ras al-Ain, a place that was bombed by Turkey yesterday, my heart clenches. Ras al-Ain was where my grandmother ended up in a tent camp, along with eight thousand other Armenian orphans, after the death marches of 1915. This most recent U.S. betrayal of the Kurds is seemingly the result of an impetuous decision by Trump on a phone call with Turkey’s president. I thought of the Kurdish proverb, “Kurds have no friends but the mountains.” The Turkish assault will likely bring an end to the Rojava experiment in democracy, and could well result in the resurgence of the Islamic State in the area. When I read that Armenian-inhabited areas of Syria had come under attack, I thought of the Armenian proverb, “Land of Armenians, land of sorrows.” By the end of Thursday, it was reported that most of the Armenian families had relocated from the conflict areas.

Many, including Republican U.S. Senators, the Armenian government, The European Union, and others, have denounced the Turkish incursion, recognizing it as an attempt to drive out the Kurds and repopulate the area with Syrian Arab refugees, who are increasingly unpopular in Turkey. When questioned about the Turkish offensive, euphemistically dubbed “Operation Peace Spring,” and the heavy losses the Kurdish people will likely suffer, Trump said that the Kurds had never helped us in World War II, “they didn’t help us in Normandy,” therefore he wasn’t worried about it.

In response to widespread denunciation, Turkish President Erdogan lashed out at his EU critics, threatening to allow millions of Syrian refugees to “flood Europe.” As Ronan Burtenshaw, editor of The Tribune in the UK, pointed out on Twitter, “The EU has no moral high ground on this issue—it did a grubby refugee deal with Erdogan, leaving hundreds of thousands of people in his camps. Now he can use them to threaten us, and deliver talking points for the Far-Right in the process. Reap what you sow.”

The whole thing is gutting and infuriating, and with the garbage mountain of cruelty piling up around us on all sides and with regard to so many issues and causes, it’s hard to know what to do but sputter with helplessness and rage. But there are things to do—demonstrations to organize and attend, electoral campaigns to work on, and ways to help those in our communities targeted for harm. There’s another Armenian proverb I like to remember: “The voice of the people is louder than the roar of the cannon.”

Nancy Kricorian