In recent years, Turkish American organizations and individuals have taken a more proactive approach in combating legislation pushed by particular ethnic lobbies that paint a negative image of Turkey or try to drive a wedge between the decades-long US-Turkey partnership.
The help of hard-working volunteers in Washington D.C. coupled with the concerted effort of Turkish Americans across the nation in contacting their Representatives resulted in preventing a vote on H.Res.252 in the remaining days of 2010. However, this push by the leadership of the 111th Congress to bring the so-called “Armenian Genocide Resolution” to the House floor demonstrates that we still have lots of work to do. In the wake of this landmark victory, Turkish Americans and friends of Turkey can help keep up the momentum in 2013.
What Can You Do?
One of the easiest ways to make a difference is to take a few minutes to call your Congressperson and request that they join the Congressional Caucus on Turkey and Turkish Americans (Turkey Caucus). A quick call can make a world of difference, as often times Congressmembers and their staff wrongly assume they have no Turkish American constituents. Every constituent matters and has a say in how their Representative votes. Make sure your voice is heard!
It is the main focus of certain ethnic lobbies to paint Turks and Turkish Americans in a negative light. The most effective way to combat such prejudice is to visit the district office of your Representative. The focus of your initial visit should be to introduce yourself as a constituent who lives, works, and/or studies in your Member’s district. Accordingly, said Congressperson will be made aware of their Turkish American constituency and its positive contributions.
The Turkey Caucus and Its Importance in Congress
The Congressional Caucus on Turkey and Turkish Americans was established in March 2001 by Congresspersons Robert Wexler (D-Florida), Ed Whitfield (R-Kentucky), and Kay Granger (R-TX). The Turkey Caucus is a bi-partisan platform through which Members of Congress focus on fostering US-Turkey relations and show their support for issues of concern to Turkish Americans. Current Co-Chairs, in addition to Ed Whitfield, are Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina), Gerry Connolly (D-Virginia), and Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee).
As a testament to how far the Turkish American community has come, the Turkey Caucus reached a record high of 157 members before the November 2012 elections.
Due to Representatives’ retirement and/or defeat in the November 2nd, 2010 mid-term elections, the membership of the Turkey Caucus is 135 as of July 12, 2013. Please keep in mind that Members of Congress choose to join Caucuses primarily when asked to by constituents. Turkish Americans and friends of Turkey like you are the key to getting Turkey Caucus numbers up to new heights.