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19 November 2007

2198) Time To Change by Harry Blackley

The Moving Finger writes, and having writ
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line
Nor all your tears wash out a word of it
Omar Khayam 11th Century

I was reminded of this quote as I read posts here and in other Turkish Forums. Armenians have been successful in writing huge volumes of anti-Turkish material and disseminating their stories to the world. Yet, all we see from Turks is reaction and denial. I have in my library a large number of booklets and pamphlets produced by various institutions in Turkey that attempt to counter the Armenian claims. I have books by historians that belie the claims that over a million Armenians perished in a State organized annihilation of the Armenian nation. Why is it that so much expenditure has failed to make any impression in the USA and Europe?

According to Simon Anholt who heads up a company that conducts surveys on a nation’s image, it is a waste to spend millions on propaganda, television advertising or government-sponsored seminars. He states that simple narratives and stories create a nation’s image. In an interview with David Judson of the Turkish Daily News he cites several examples. Australia’s image is of a larrikin nation as embodied by Crocodile Dundee and before that in stories such as A Town Like Alice. America’s image has been created by stories of the Wild West and the cowboy and the limitless stories and movies of the bravery of its soldiers in war. France’s image is Paris, love and stories of Provence and the French Revolution. No need to state what the image of Greece is based upon.

And Turkey? It came at the bottom of the list thanks to the novels and films that depict Turks as barbaric, murderers, cruel and a people who engage in deviant acts. Think of the stories you read as a child. Sultans, harems, eunuchs and torture. Think of Midnight Express, Forty Days at Musa Dagh and the movies Lawrence of Arabia, Ararat and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

All the piety, wit and tears won’t change this image.

Only by creating new stories that portray Turks as heroes, kind, caring and honorable will the image be changed, slowly but in time.

Others have worked hard to create positive images of their nation though the telling and re-telling of stories that show their people, their country in an uplifting, positive manner.

When will Turks stop reacting to bad stories and start creating good ones?

Government sponsored booklets and innumerable forums reach a tiny audience. It is the mass market of fictional stories and movies that have the greatest impact.

With respect.

Harry Blackley

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