Stop Lobbying, Start Writing a Letter!

Cemil Ozyurt
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“Honorable Senator, in the eve of coming elections, we kindly ask you to reconsider your promises one more time before you make any decisions that would upset Turkish Americans. Your support for the Armenian genocide claims deeply upsets us. We have been America’s best friend and ally. We fought side by side in Korea and during the Gulf War…”

I have seen many letters decorated with statements like the ones above, addressed to American officials. Whenever I see a digital letter like this on the Internet, I can’t help but think “right, as if the addressee would ever care about this at all!”

‘Governor of California approved the Armenian resolution’ – let’s bombard him with messages. ‘Istanbul is running to host the 2012 Olympics – let’s follow the link on CNN’s website and vote! I understand that we should make our voice heard rather than doing nothing but, let’s not ignore the facts, let’s be realistic! Keep writing your letters, but 30 out of 50 states have already approved the Armenian resolution. Soon they will even have a museum. Keep voting on CNN website, although Istanbul was eliminated from the Olympic race almost one year ago. Since you don’t have to move from your chair, just continue doing it.

This is a country where you can rent the center of Fifth Avenue for two hours or get a respond for your working visa in 15 days by paying the immigration office $1000. Do you really believe that your voice will count for free? You must be kidding!
Unless you find a way to reach thousands of Republican and Democrat party delegates -who actually come all the way to your door- in New York or in Boston and promote your ideal, unless you organize panels, meetings to raise your problems, you will end up writing letters for ever. You will be buying advertising space on ten buses, eight bus stops for 15 days; you will air 30-second commercials on leading TV channels and run out of your promotion budget. You will pour millions of dollars to a few people so that they can “lobby” from 9 am to 5 pm. Doing all these will enable you to say that “you are doing your best to promote and lobby for Turkey.” Perhaps you can even increase your budget and bring the Janissary Band for the Turkish parade, organize festivals in four or five states with meatballs and beads by paying $50 thousands each. You are the best.

Every time a Turkish official visits the US, he/she is surrounded by people who as for “government assistance for their lobbying activities.” Of course the government should help; it would be a shame if it didn’t. The Turkish government should be generous to the Turkish community in the US while pensioners in Turkey are trying to survive with 380 million Turkish Liras a month. I suggest we organize a Turkish festival in Hawaii. We can greet the visitors of the island with a Sword and Shield Dance Group and say “Aloha!” That’d be the best possible promotion, ever.

The government is not the only door that the assistance-seekers knock. Some even say that “businessmen in Turkey should reach their pockets to help the lobby activities in the US.” There is a nice saying in Anatolia: “One seeks other’s donkey by singing a song.” If you don’t stay on top of your own priorities, why should a businessman in Turkey care about it? Why would he look for your lost donkey? Even if he does, you should remember that he will be singing songs to do so.

Do you really want to lobby? Reach the Turkish businessmen in US that you never got in touch before. One might be living next door to the boss of Nextel, a giant communication company; another might be buddies with Hollywood stars! Those of you involved in associations, claiming to be lobbying, you should try as well. Try to find ways to reach 15 thousand students, 5 thousand instructors and Turkish entrepreneurs, whose number is increasing everyday. Just move a little! Leave your desk, get out on the street. You should start by exiting the lobby first!

(November 2004, 14th Issue)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07