Summer 2002 (10.2)
I Didn't Read
Editor: These days life has become so hectic
and automated that members of the U.S. Congress have been known
to send out replies to their constituents without bothering to
read their actual requests. The results are more revealing than
politicians might wish for.
Recently, some of the Azerbaijanis studying in the United States
wrote to members of Congress to make them conscious that there
are two sides to the story regarding the Armenians' claims of
"genocide" in 1915. Every year, this issue comes to
the fore as Armenians commemorate the event on April 24th and
members of the Armenian lobby pressure political leaders, including
the President, to say the "G-word" ("Genocide").
The following letter was sent from the office of House Democratic
Leader Richard A. Gephardt as a reply to the Azerbaijanis. Obviously,
the Congressman had assumed that there is only one side to the
story and drafted only one reply for their computer bank - to
satisfy Armenian constituents.
"Thank you for contacting me regarding the Armenian Genocide.
I appreciate hearing from you.[an explanation follows about Gephardt's
support of the Armenian definition of the situation in terms
of victims involved (a figure which seems to grow larger through
repetition over time) and in regard to who is to blame].
"In the 106th Congress, I urged the Republican leadership
to schedule House Resolution 398 for consideration which would
have called upon the President to ensure that all Foreign Service
officers, Department of State officials and other executive branch
employees responding to issues related to human rights received
appropriate training on the Armenian Genocide. In addition, it
would have requested that the President characterize this incident
as "genocide" during the annual message commemorating
this terrible event. Unfortunately, however, this legislation
was not considered on the House floor before the Congress adjourned
in December .
"You may be assured I will continue to keep your views in
mind in relation to Congressional matters pertaining to the Armenian
Genocide. Again, thank you for contacting me. Please do not hesitate
to write or call regarding this or any other issue of concern
Signed, Richard A. Gephardt
A note circulating on a Listserv
among the Azerbaijani students along with Gephardt's letter reads:
"This obviously is a major screw-up in Gephardt's office,
or actually on the part of the software they are using. Because
of the huge volume of e-mails they receive - thousands each day
- government and business offices employ CRM programs that pre-screen
all e-mails and respond automatically to as many of them as possible,
leaving only the difficult issues for personnel to handle. This
letter seems like a cookie-cutter template letter that the program
e-mails without any additional intervention.
It seems these days that e-mails have become largely ineffective
because they are so easy to send. The best way to contact Congress
is still via faxes, telephones and letters sent through postal
mail - not email."
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AI 10.2 (Summer 2002)
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