Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) called on the Obama Administration to allow exhibition of the “Armenian Orphan Rug” at the Smithsonian Museum. The rug, woven by orphans of the Armenian Genocide in 1920, was presented to President Calvin Coolidge in 1925 as thanks for U.S. assistance during the genocide. The rug – which has been in storage at the White House for decades – was supposed to be released for exhibition in a Smithsonian event for the launch of Hagop Martin Deranian’s new book “President Calvin Coolidge and the Armenian Orphan Rug.” Unfortunately, the event was cancelled when the White House refused to release the rug for display.
“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 explained. “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 Administration has been reluctant to call the Armenian Genocide what it was, a genocide, and this latest decision to keep the rug out of the Smithsonian comes without explanation.
Schiff continued, “The rug deserves to be on display and the millions affected by the genocide deserve the chance to see it – it’s my hope that the Administration will decide to allow the rug, a symbol worthy of the Smithsonian, to be released.”
Earlier Schiff and Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) sent a letter, along with 31 other Members, to President Obama urging him to allow exhibition of the rug.