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Thoughts on City of Carson Vote Rejecting an Ataturk Monument

Ataturk and Turkish Flag Los Angeles

Thoughts on City of Carson Vote Rejecting an Ataturk Monument – by Ergun KIRLIKOVALI

The City Council of City of Carson voted down unanimously on March 4, 2015, Wednesday, a measure to erect a monument to Ataturk, founding father of the Republic of Turkey—considered one of the most inspiring leaders in the 20th Century—in the city, after a heated debate during the regular city council session. In the public comment session, only six speakers from each side were given the chance to speak, although some 298 people on the opposing side and 101 on the supporting side expressed interest.

The Armenian lobby was represented by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Armenian Youth Federation, American Hellenic Council, and mayors of Glendale and Montebello. No surprises there.

The Armenian lobby presentations were replete with distortions, omissions, errors, slanders, and fabrications. So, no surprises there, either.

The biggest surprise was Mayor Jim Dear who made such a swift 180 degree turn in his stand that would make the best ballet dancer envious. He went from praising the leadership of Ataturk for the last two years to voting against his monument in one night, even pronouncing the “G” word, the long-discredited and baseless political claim of genocide, in the process. Mayor Pro Tempore Elita Santarina, and Councilmembers Lula Davis-Homes and Albert Robles chose to take crude Armenian allegations at face value. I do not know them, so I cannot decide if there is any suprises there.

Be that as it may, it is City of Carson‘s loss and another city’s gain, the latter being the future location of the inspiring memorial to Ataturk, soldier, statesman, reformer, and visionary. The Turkish American community is wiser, sharper, and more determined than ever now. With the project ready, community motivated, momentum built, the determination of the Turkish-Americans just shot through the sky. The funds collected will grow many fold in no time, efforts will redouble and, as sure as the sun will shine tomorrow, we shall be back.

Memorials to Atatürk represent far more than inanimate marble objects in some peaceful garden setting; they collectively represent the memory of a nation. They are also the symbols of hope and vision for the Americans of Turkish heritage, as well as all Turks around the world and in Turkey. They mean independence, liberty, and justice… They symbolize respect for equality, fraternity, human rights, democracy, and rule of law. They are reminders of singular dedication to womens’ rights, choices, freedoms, and secularism. They show the entire world perhaps the most striking way out of dogma-based-radicalism with which the world grapples today.

Those memorials are a testament to the free will of the people, and the respect and admiration with which Turks embrace Atatürk and his comrades, the Forefathers of the Modern Republic of Turkey. To be against such a memorial is to deny all values revered by peoples of leading industrialized nations East and West, North and South. To oppose an Ataturk memorial is to live in the darkness of the past.

I still have high hopes for peace which can only come from down-to-earth enlightenment of those who chase ghosts, cultivate hate, sow discord, and harvest vengeance and violence. Sooner or later, those radicals will realize that all they accomplish with hate is a piece of custom-made hell enslaving their hearts and minds. As George Bernard Shaw so aptly put it, “Hatred is the coward’s revenge for being intimidated.”

So, fight on, Turkish-Americans, for dignity, truth, and fairness.




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