Ay┼če ├-zg├╝n: The Armenian Metamorphosis

TDN
Saturday, April 30, 2005


OPINIONS

Ay┼če OZGUN

When my father was assigned as the naval attach├ę to Washington
D.C. in 1955 some of our friends in Istanbul told us to get in touch
with the Bogasyan family who would help us. This family welcomed,
embraced and helped us more than our own parents ever could. Asot
Bogasyan found a house for us to live in. His sister Esther placed my
brother and I in school. The father helped us buy a car. What can I
say? I don't think my family has been as grateful to this family as it
has to any other.

We spent weekends together on picnics. We went to the Chesapeake beach
and swam there. Once a week either they came to us for dinner or
vice-versa. We ate the same type of food. We talked the same
language. We had the same sense of humour.

When my father and mother flew down to California to take over a ship
that was being delivered to the Turkish Navy from the American Navy, a
gentleman by the name of Mr. Moreno (of direct Armenian-Turkish
descent) from Hollywood met them at the Roosevelt Hotel, again as if
they were the closest of kin, took them over to the Universal Studios
to watch Dan Dailey and Shirley Jones rehearse a dance number for a
musical, have lunch with Joan Crawford and Rhonda Fleming and
personally go around and have pictures of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis
Presley, Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, Sandra Dee, John Saxon, Esther
Williams, Gregory Peck, Audie Murphy (and many more) signed and given
to my parents as "gifts to your children.' As of today my brother and
I must be sitting on top of a very valuable bunch of photographs,
thanks to Armenian-Turkish-American Mr. Alberto Moreno of Hollywood.

We have a saying in Turkish I would like to use here: If they are
still alive a grateful and a hearty "hello" to them. If they have
passed away, may Allah bless them.

When I moved to California in 1985, it was a whole different
picture. The Turkish consular-general had been shot in the head by an
old, `trustworthy' Armenian American acquaintance. The Armenian
American fathers offered their sons or their friends $500 to beat up
the Turkish Ozgun brothers (who are my children!) in high school!

When I set up a lecture and exhibit at my college museum on Ottoman
history and cultural artifacts, members of the Armenian Genocide
Association literally tried to disrupt the event and threatened me and
my children with injury and harm. I am ever so grateful for the
experienced chief of campus police and his courageous team that
evening.

They asked for equal representation. They got equal
representation. They saw me passing flyers out after they had asked to
pass out their flyers. The flyers they passed out had the headline
"Genocide of three million Armenians by the Ottomans.' The
Californians attending that evening took one look at their fliers and
said: "Look here! Last time you said it was 1.5 million. Now you have
turned it into three million. What is going on here?" and crumpled up
those flyers and threw them onto the floor.

What happened? What changed between the 1950's and the 1980's?

I wish I knew! I wish I knew!