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GLENN: Let me go to, is it Vasheghan? Is it Vasheghan?
CALLER: Hi, Glenn.
CALLER: Vasheghan, yes.
CALLER: How are you?
GLENN: Very good. What kind of name is Vasheghan, sir? Where are you from originally?
GLENN: Vasheghan, it's I go by Robert. That's my middle name. I'm Armenian. I was born in the city of Yerevan in Armenia, in republic, former Soviet Union in 1964. We're almost same age.
GLENN: Oh, wow. We are probably the same age, 1964. So you were in the former — when did you come here?
CALLER: Well, I came in 1995. I transferred my business here.
CALLER: I have a pretty successful business in Moscow and transferred it here. I came as a legal immigrant. I didn't immigrate right away. I was, by the way, invited to your program for illegal immigrants. I wasn't able to make it unfortunately.
CALLER: Yes. I apologize.
GLENN: That's all right.
CALLER: Yes, I was dying to come. And I have a Ph.D. in international and constitutional law. I speak four languages. One of them is Arabic and Russian. And I run a business here now with my family. We opened two restaurants. I went through hell. I did not ask for any handouts, didn't — I am a proud American now and, you know, I feel blessed, and I am very scared what is going on in United States. I was a member of Communist Party. I joined Communist Party in Soviet Union when Gorbachev became a secretary general. I was very inspired that finally free market will come. I was like new blood in a party, the new generation, joined with very big difficulties because I was considered part of intelligencia. So we were not able to join party. Only workers class could join. So people even were sneaking into factories trying to like work. Allegedly they were working in a factory in order to join party to pick up some perks. So that was how it was working.
So out of 250 million people in Soviet Union, there were only 18 million members of Communist Party and mostly people that, actually leaders, could manipulate. I mean, you know, the workers, workers in factories. Even farmers were not able to do that because farmers for years were considered the people who are trying to get independence, must work on the land.
GLENN: Hang on just a second. Robert — may I call you Robert?
CALLER: Of course. Of course.
GLENN: Robert, I have to tell you I didn't know that. I had no, I had no idea that you couldn't just join the Communist Party if you wanted to.
CALLER: Oh, no. No, no, no, Glenn, no. To join a Communist Party, my God, it's maybe easier to become a congressman here. You can't imagine. It's very difficult. So you couldn't go to lots of, you know, filter, filtration. And I was a student in a university, state university over there and only two students that year were, out of 20,000, were able to join because we were actually, we had straight A's and we had fantastic performance and we were in our local ROTC, et cetera, et cetera. And, of course, I'm being very honest with you, straightforward. I was also, you know, able to do that because my family had a position in the country. We were not able to just, you know, just walk in and sign an application and, hey, give me that. So anyway, so both guys, myself and the other guy, we were both from what we call, you know, privileged families. That's why we were able to do that. But I was very encouraged when I saw because for as long as I remember myself, you know, my family went through repression, my grandmother's brothers went to — they were taken to concentration camp. One of them never, one of them never came back. I never seen him. The other one, I knew him and he was crippled. It's only because KGB found a historical novel from about 11th century about Armenia's fight for independence against Byzantine empire and Persians. And the entire family were teachers, and I am educated myself. I used to teach here in Miami and in Boca Raton and, you know, it's horrible. And I didn't see those things, of course, I didn't went through it.
GLENN: Hold on just a second. Robert, Robert, have you moved into a different room or something? Because you are starting to break up and I would like to —
CALLER: Oh, no, no, I am sitting in same location. So I am not moving, yeah. So what happened is that when I heard you telling just today, because I listen to you every day. I just purchased Overton Window. I didn't get it yet through Amazon. But hear what happened, when I heard you saying buy shortwave radios and, you know, copiers, I said, oh, my God, look at this. Hear what happened. As long as I remember myself living in Soviet Union, before Gorbachev, you know, removed all these, silencing stations, we were addicted to Voice of America because we used to put those, you know, radio, shortwave radios in our balconies and it was very noisy. Sometimes we couldn't hear anything. But sometimes we were lucky and, you know, so we were listening. And my father, being a member of government, he was pulling me aside saying, son, let's go and listen. This is the truth where it's coming from. Don't tell anybody but this is what, we've got to listen. And we were listening to all kinds of programs, medical programs, political programs. And basically we were getting more information, truthful information from Voice of America back then in Russian, of course. It was coming in Russian. Even though Russian is my second language, my first native language Armenian which I speak. But anyway, it was coming through that and we were listening and we knew what was going on inside of our country better than, of course, we could get from Pravda, Izvestia or (inaudible), whatever, you know, this communist propaganda was telling us.
GLENN: So when you heard me, when you heard me today say buy shortwave radios, what did that tell you? What did that —
CALLER: Well, that means you are basically, it's like human brain is wired same way. So you had exactly same reaction like I would do. Because if, God forbid, something happens here in United States and, you know, Marxist regime starts to oppress people, that's what unfortunately we have to do. I mean, I hope it never comes to because I am going to, you know, vote in November, I hope peacefully we can, you know, finish this nightmare.
Now, another thing that when you said copier, Glenn, if you wanted to copy something in the United States, the most innocent page of, you know, most innocent paper like document, something, in our university we had one big place with a huge copier. We had to gather approximately seven or eight signatures from different bureaucrats what kind of document we're copying, how many copies, what for, who requested it, et cetera, et cetera because — and I didn't understand why. I couldn't understand. And then, you know, my father explained to me that, son, this is because they are afraid we will, you know, make copies of something that is Soviet propaganda or the censorship is not allowing. Things like, you know, (inaudible) books which is popular, anything that could criticize the communist regime. So that's what, you know, I got —
GLENN: Robert, here's what I would like to do. I'd like to ask you to close down your restaurants there in Miami and come live in the City of New York where I would pay you a very low salary for you and your family and you could live like you probably lived in the former Soviet Union, but I'd like to offer you a job. I think you are a — I think a very, very bright and useful man. I would like to get your phone number. I would actually like to talk about keeping in touch with you because I think experience like yours is critical for America to hear.
CALLER: I don't —
PAT: But wait, there's more. Not only are the living conditions horrendous and the pay low but the hours are incredibly long. Now, how much do you want to come, Robert?
GLENN: Robert, you hold on, all right?
CALLER: Okay, Glenn. Thank you so much.
GLENN: All right. Appreciate it, sir. Thank you very much.
PAT: Wow, that's an amazing story.
GLENN: Let me just, let me remind you one thing here. I mean, I know this is a side note but let this phone call make a secondary point of how ridiculous the point is that the right is anti immigrant. Here is a guy who is coming into our country. Thank God we have people like him in our country. This is what I've said about the idea of an Ellis Island project. We need people who come in, we need people to refresh us. We need people to remind us. We need people like this guy to kick us in the head and say, don't you know how many signatures we had to gather just to be able to copy anything? Don't you realize what you have here? We need those people. I gladly welcome immigrants in. Quite honestly I don't know if I've told you this story before. So stop me if I have. Two weeks ago I had to go shopping with my wife at the mall. Ooh, there is nothing like shopping with your wife at the mall. And standing there in the ladies department just as she's, "Can I help you, sir?" "Nope, nope, I'm just looking at blouses for me," you know, as you are waiting there for your wife to come out of the dressing room. And there must have been about four, five women that came up to me and all of them were gigantic fans. This is in New York. All of them gigantic fans. Every single one of them were from a former communist country. Every single one of them almost broke down in tears and said please, don't stop. Please keep telling people, Americans just don't understand; please don't stop. It's incredible. The people who have come here for a reason, for freedom, understand how precious it is and how easy it is to lose.