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23 November 2007

2204) Time To Change Part Two : To Believe Or Condemn A Nation Via Public Opinion

Here is a response to my article "Time to Change"

”I read your article with great interest.
However, there is a science called history, no matter how much personal or prejudiced it gets, it has to depend on undeniable, documented, archeological, true evidence. We are not talking about movies, items of art, and figments of imagination, which belong to the class of "fiction" and "art". These belong to Hollywood, Bollywood, Yesilcam, advertisers, etc. One should not seriously accept "fiction" to become the "history" and dominate a nation's politics.

I have been reading Herodotus "Histories" recently. It has a lot of stories, some of which are fiction, which makes it easier to read, but it mostly contains undeniable facts. He never allows a fictional story to rule the fact, even if it is sometimes not favorable to Greeks. This is what one expects of a true historian.

For a government to allow its legislation based on fictional stories is unacceptable and dangerous. It will run the nation into wrong moves and scientific disasters, one of which we are witnessing in Iraq.”


First let me say that one must distinguish between actual history and recorded history. Actual history is the undisputed . . fact of what happened at a particular time and place. Recorded history is what we have been told happened at that particular time and place. Recorded history is written by the victor or in a very few cases by the victim who creates through the power of language a compelling story of the brutality and lack of compassion of the victor. In this case, the recorded history is based on anecdotal evidence.

Let me give an example. Christopher Hitchens’ “Hostage to History: Cyprus from the Ottomans to Kissinger”. Here we have a ‘history’ that is accepted as fact but by the use of emotive language it creates a one-sided view of events that took place in that unhappy island.

My fictional novel “Love & Death in Cyprus” is a fictional story of Alexander and Leyla. It is historically factual. No one has challenged any of the historical facts as detailed in the novel. Why? Because statements made by the main ‘historical characters’ are on the public record.

I would never suggest that a nation allows legislation based on historical fictional stories. However, if one nation is constantly portrayed in stories and movies as barbaric and guilty of a crime then any evidence that nation produces will be viewed with skepticism.

It is in the court of public opinion that a nation will be believed or condemned. Reacting to negative histories, stories or movies only arouses suspicion in the mind of the public. The Turk is the scapegoat of the West and any attempt to counter claims that it committed genocide will fail. Why? Because the image implanted by years of negative stories and movies have convinced worldwide opinion that Turks are the bad guys of history.

Jews were for centuries the scapegoat but novels such as “Exodus” created a new image of Jews as fighters willing to die to save European Jewry by creating a homeland in Palestine. Innumerable stories and movies continue this constant, ongoing image creation.

I agree that historical fictional stories are easier to read. That is why people read them as opposed to history books that are full on detail but difficult to comprehend by the average person in the street.

In all the history books that I have read on the Korean War, most of which are 500 pages long, the efforts of the Turkish Brigade barely rate a mention. Are these histories scientific? No! As will all histories they are selective in order to create an image of a particular nation’s part in that history. Again, “Korean Rose” is a fictional, historical love story but it details the actual contribution of the Turkish Brigade albeit it a fictional form. Fiction, especially historical fiction is not necessarily lies. It is a rendition of history through fictional characters. It does not replace so-called scientific history, it adds a new dimension that involves the reader emotionally and can inspire them to investigate further the historical events in the story.

I agree that history is biased, prejudiced and personal and as such has no more validity than historical fiction that uses fictional characters to explain what happened at a particular time and place in the past.

Harry Blackley

Love & Death in Cyprus