Pulling the rug out
Schiff blasts Obama for refusing to allow display of Armenian Genocide rug
By André Coleman 11/14/2013
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) took the Obama administration to task on Tuesday for refusing to display a symbol of gratitude given to the US by Armenians shortly after the Armenian Genocide.
In 1925, Armenians presented a rug to President Calvin Coolidge as a symbol of thanks for the assistance that the US gave to Armenians during the Genocide, which began in 1915 and ended in 1923, resulting in the murder of 1.5 million Armenians by soldiers with the Turkish Ottoman Empire.
The rug has been kept in storage in the White House since it was presented to Coolidge and was scheduled to be exhibited at the Smithsonian Museum as part of the launch for the book “President Calvin Coolidge and the Armenian Orphan Rug.” But that event was canceled after the White House refused to allow the rug to be displayed without any explanation.
Despite promises during his presidential campaign in 2008, President Obama has been reluctant to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, which Turkish officials have historically denied ever happened.
“The decision by the administration to block display of the Armenian Genocide rug is as inexplicable as it is hurtful to the Armenian community,” Schiff said in a prepared statement. “The rug is not only a symbol of the resilience of the Armenian people through their darkest days; it also serves as a tangible expression of the inherent truth that not only were 1.5 million people killed in the first genocide of the 20th century, but that the American government was a central player in efforts to call attention to the plight of the Armenian people and provide relief to survivors.”
The rug was hand-woven by orphans of the Armenian Genocide in an American-sponsored orphanage run by a US charity created by an act of Congress. The rug has more than 4 million hand-tied knots.
According to Schiff, Armenian organizations have been denied numerous times over the past decade when seeking to have the rug displayed.
“The Armenian Orphan Rug is a piece of American history and it belongs to the American people,” Schiff wrote. “For over a decade, Armenian American organizations have sought the public display of the rug and have requested the White House and the State Department grant their request on numerous occasions. Unfortunately, Armenian Americans have yet to have their requests granted.”