30 July 2006

886) The Uses And Abuses Of History

History answers two sets of questions: (one) what happened and (two) why. When one of them (the what) is emphasized at the expense of the other (the why), the result is bound to be more propaganda and less history.

On the subject of the Genocide: we tend to emphasize the facts or what happened, and the Turks prefer to emphasize the why and view the facts as of secondary importance. As for the rest of the world, like us, they too stress the what, but a different kind from ours, namely, “what’s in it for us.” The result is not dialogue, compromise, and consensus, but monologues that never cross.

There is another disadvantage in stressing the importance of what happened in the past; we neglect the present, or what’s happening today. When I see nineteen articles and commentaries on the Genocide (or “Red Massacre”) in a single issue of our weeklies and none about its “White” counterpart (assimilation in the Diaspora, exodus from the Homeland) I may be justified in suspecting there is a planned and deliberate effort on the part of our leadership and academics to manipulate, mislead, and deceive the masses into thinking we are in good hands and our past problems are more important than our present ones.

We share this in common with dogs: we know our masters but not our masters’ master. We know what we think and feel, but not why we think and feel as we do, or what were all the factors that went into shaping our state of mind.

Facts don’t exist in a vacuum. They are products of a long chain of conditions, circumstances and thought processes or convictions; and convictions, as we know, can be wrong, especially when they stress one aspect of reality and ignore others.

Consider the following scenario: A house is on fire. The owner accuses his next-door neighbor of arson. They quarrel. Result: both houses burn down.

If you think I am being too tough on our historians and their dupes, consider the following two definitions from Ambrose Bierce’s justly celebrated THE DEVIL’S DICTIONARY:

“HISTORY: An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.”

“IDIOT: A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling.”

Ara Baliozian
http://arabaliozian.org

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