12 June 2009

2881) Turks Know Better What Happened If Only Because They Know Both Sides Of The Story, Unlike . . .

. . us who know only our side. They have a better grasp of world history too if only because they ran an empire for six hundred years. Which means they speak a language that is accessible to other empires. All they have to say to the Americans is, “Armenians are our Indians,” and all Americans have to do is think: “What if in time of war when our very existence may well be in peril our ethnic minorities behave like the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I?” Which may also explain why the Soviets opposed all talk of Genocide recognition. . .


When our first foreign minister visited Ankara and mentioned the Genocide, the Turks said, “This man hates us. We can't negotiate with him.” Our president agreed and immediately replaced him. He understood that you can't call a man a murderer and a barbarian and expect him to behave like a civilized human being.

Were the Turks murderers and barbarians? Yes, of course. No doubt about that. Even the murder of a single innocent human being is an act of barbarism. But that's in civilian parlance which has nothing to do with the semantics of diplomacy.

If the Turks behaved like bloodthirsty barbarians, so did the rest of mankind before, during, and after our Tragedy. We cannot educate, reform, and persuade mankind into behaving like the civilizations they pretend to be. We can only deal with them in such a way as to defend and protect our interests. So far we have failed to do so perhaps because we are not as smart as we pretend to be.


SUCCESS
Give a man the best education money can buy and a position of great responsibility and end up with an assh*le who thinks he deserves a fat bonus just for pulling his dick.
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Some readers disagree with me not because they find my arguments defective but because they think I stand between them and their chances to achieve success.
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There is a saying in Hollywood: “Success is relative, the closer the relative, the greater the success.”
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If we think what we are are told to think, are we (brain)dead or alive? And if we are alive, is our life worth living?
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When I hear someone use the word “culture” I immediately assume he means his particular brand of barbarism.
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We say Naregatsi is our Dante and Shakespeare combined, but whereas Italian and English children can quote lines from Dante and Shakespeare, I have yet to hear a single Armenian boy or girl, or adult for that matter, quote a single solitary line by Naregatsi.
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We brag about our culture but we prefer to speak about massacres, as if being massacred were a great achievement.
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When your whole life is a big mistake, you hate like hell being accused of being fallible.


EDUCATION BY INDOCTRINATION
Education by indoctrination should be a criminal offense. The only reason it isn't is that everybody does it and no one seems to mind.
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There is in all of us an infantile need to believe in lies and when no one deceives us, we deceive ourselves.
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As a child he was taught to speak the truth, and when the Turkish police came and wanted to know where was his uncle's hiding place, he said “In the well,” and he took them there.
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When God asked Cain where was his brother Abel (as if He didn't know), Cain replied, “Am I then my brother's keeper?”
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We are told violence in movies begets violence in life. What about intolerance in organized religions and ideologies? How many violent movies did Cain see? Was Genghis Khan influenced by John Wayne, and Napoleon by Brando?
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The Republicans (most of them White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) are now calling the Hispanic Supreme Court nominee a “racist.” They forget that for two hundred years Supreme Court Justices (most of them WASPs) legitimized slavery and racism in America. These WASPs! – they sure know how to take care of their own. That may well be the secret of their success. You may now guess what is the secret of our failure.
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Question to our Turcocentric ghazetajis: “Does it ever occur to you that you may be barking up the wrong tree?”


VARIATIONS ON ABRACADABRA
At the end of his career as teacher and philosopher, Plato had every right to believe that he had been successful in solving most of mankind's problems, one of them being that rulers should also be philosophers. We know now that power and wisdom are mutually exclusive concepts and mankind prefers to be ruled not by philosophers but by philomorons.

When Marx toiled on his magnum opus in a London library writing against exploitation, did it ever occur to him that some day his ideas would be exploited by bloodthirsty barbarians who would victimize millions of innocent human beings? And to think that he was fully aware of the fact that for nearly two millennia mankind had exploited even the Word of God by reducing it to “opium" thus legitimizing the rule of the Devil.

What are ideas if not variations on abracadabra?

We like to say if it weren't for good men, mankind would be in a far worse shape. Maybe so. But what kind of consolation is that for the hungry, the sick, the dying, and the dead? Illusions are for the living and the favorite occupation of the living is to spin illusions. There you have it, a history of human thought in a single sentence.


ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM AND PRO-MESSIANISM
On more than one occasion I have been attacked and insulted by readers on the grounds that so far I have failed to come up with the right verbal formula that will save the nation, as if such a formula ever existed in some yet undiscovered dimension and it was up to me to fetch it. Illusions, like fools, come in all sizes and shapes. There are still Russians today who believe in Stalin's propaganda line and call Solzhenitsyn a traitor, as there are Germans who are for Hitler and against Thomas Mann, who exposed Hitler's charlatanism. Fascism is not dead in Italy, neither is Maoism in China.

The ancients may not have known much about balanced diets but they knew that one way to kill a man was to condemn him to eat the same food for forty days. Hence the spectacle of dupes who after being fed the same propaganda line for a generation become living cadavers. I have yet to meet the Armenian dupe or Turcocentric ghazetaji who was not brain-dead.

Perhaps our anti-intellectualism is nothing but an extension of our pro-messianism.

And the problem with pro-messianism is that it completely ignores the fact that messiahs don't solve problems, they compound them by making unreasonable demands on us poor mortals – such as loving our enemies. The only Armenian I know who dared to speak of sympathy for the Turks was Saroyan. As for our sermonizers whose job it is to preach the message of our Savior: the less said about them better.


ALAS!
You want to be a benefactor? Making a million is the easy part. What's hard is the realization that all they want is your money, and when they look at you they don't see a face but a dollar sign.

You want to be a boss or bishop? Nothing to it. You start by saying “Yes, sir!” to the idiots who are ahead of you and the chances are you will have no trouble filling vacancies all the way to the top.

You want to be a writer? You have two options: (one) to write what they want to read, and (two) to write what you think. If you choose the first option, they may do you the favor of printing you; if the second, you may be free to live in the gulag of your choice.
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Literature: a field of human endeavor in which even the Turks are ahead of us.
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Journalism: ditto, alas!
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In a letter to the editor in our local paper today I read the following: “The general public, poorly educated for the most part and in many cases barely literate, is bamboozled by the media and lulled by game shows and sports extravaganzas.”

Replace “games” and “sports” with “atrocities” and “massacres” and you will have a fairly honest and objective assessment of our situation, alas!




IT WAS WORSE THAN A CRIME, IT WAS A BLUNDER
There is a tendency in all of us to avoid confrontation especially when the opposition is more powerful. We call it playing it safe or being cautious. And yet, we look up to those rare heroic individuals who stand up for what is right even if it means losing their freedom and sometimes even their life. Think of Socrates versus the Athenian establishment, think of Jesus, Galileo, Gandhi, and Solzhenitsyn.

And now, let us consider the case of our revolutionaries in the Ottoman Empire. The reason they rose against the Empire was that they believed the Great Powers of the West to be on their side and with such allies they could not lose. But lost they did and it was not they who paid a heavy price but the people. Socrates and the others mentioned above relied on no one but themselves and suffered the consequences. Most of our revolutionaries survived to publish long-winded memoirs, to rewrite history, and to cover up their blunder. I don't find that heroic but cowardly and contemptible.
We all make mistakes, of course, but some of us are honest enough to admit them, sometimes even to apologize.


ORIGINAL SIN
We begin by saying yes to our parents, then to our schoolteachers and parish priest (or rabbi or mullah) after which we consider it our duty to say yes sir! to empty suits and bearded fornicators. And now think of the millions of innocent victims who perished just because some loud-mouth damn fool spoke in the name of a non-existent being or a misguided ideology or a phony orthodoxy. And if you think this sort of aberration belongs to the past, think again. I have seen it happen in my own lifetime and I see it happen again and again whenever I read the headlines in newspapers or watch the news on television. And why? Because we all think my speechifier or sermonizer knows better, his god is a better god, his ideas are better ideas...all of which combined makes us morally superior and we can do no wrong and anyone who says otherwise is a liar who deserves to be silenced and sometimes silenced permanently.

The very same people who taught us to believe tasting the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge was the Original Sin have brainwashed us to believe to gorge ourselves on the fruit from the Tree of Ignorance is our patriotic duty. If you have a better explanation, I am all ears.


THE SCUM OF THE EARTH
If you lose a friend on account of political differences, it maybe because he wasn't a good friend to begin with. I speak from experience. I have lost several friends because in their view I was on the wrong side of a political issue and their side happened to be infallible. To them I say, “Good riddance!”
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It is a mistake to identify patriotism with a specific regime. I have nothing against patriotism provided it is willing to expose the swine at the top. As for the kind of patriotism that sings of the eternal snows of Mt. Ararat, I can only say, “Nothing further, your Honor.”
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Believers in one God (Christians, Muslims, Jews) should develop a consensus if they want to be believed.
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I consider fascination with royalty a branch of zoology. The first and only thing I think when Prince Charles is mentioned is that he doesn't squeeze his own toothpaste on his toothbrush. The queen? She reminds of an aunt. As for the princesses: I am reminded of an old friend who when asked to name his favorite actor, he mentioned several familiar names. When asked to name his favorite actress, he said, “All of them!”
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Stendhal: “All my life I have always seen what I imagined rather than reality.” There is an element of wishful thinking in all thinking. Propagandists know this and do their utmost to exploit it, and the more successful they are, the greater the distance between us and reality.


WITH MALICE TOWARD SOME, WITH CHARITY FOR ALL
My explanations are mine and no one else's. They apply only to my own brand of ignorance. If you agree with me, it may be because we share the same area of darkness. If you disagree with me, it may be because you are already in possession of your own explanations. In which case I can only warn you not to be taken in by flat-earth theories. Don't let appearances deceive you. The most obvious explanation may also be the most misleading. Remember, it is not the sun that revolves around the earth even if the Holy Scriptures (the Word of God) and the Pope of Rome said so and repeated for more than a thousand years. And if I repeat myself, it may be because I cannot reconcile myself to the fact that those who pretend to be wiser are no better than damn fools whose number one concern is not the welfare of the people but their infallibility, which is nothing but a mirage, an illusion, a figment of their imagination, and a Big Lie. We have been and continue to be at the mercy of bunglers who would rather preside over the destruction of the nation than to give up even an invisible fraction of their powers and privileges.


ON A NUMBER OF THINGS
Intolerance is almost always a byproduct of a misguided idealism or a phony orthodoxy. But I am beginning to suspect that's not our problem. Our problem, our real problem, is mediocrity and its twin, opportunism.
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We have a thousand voices supporting Genocide recognition but not a single whisper in defense of free speech.
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Man thrives on good food, good sex, and bad ideas.
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We speak like parrots, drink like fish, eat like pigs, fight like dragons, live in asphalt jungles, and we call ourselves civilized human beings.
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If a better world is ever discovered in the universe, we will do to it what we did to America and its Indians.
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Human nature continues to elude me. No matter how hard I try I cannot understand why millions of people are fascinated by individuals who hit a ball with a modified stick.


LESSONS
In his Anatolian impressions, Lord Kinross (the future biographer of Kemal) mentions meeting some elderly Turks who bragged about teaching us (Armenians) a lesson during World War I that we would never forget. One could say, it is now their turn to learn they can't get away with murder – though if it were up to me, I would be reluctant to teach them anything if only because people who cling to their ignorance will have to learn the hard way, and the longer it takes the harder the lesson is bound to be.

But then, consider the absurdity of our own situation. We are trying to teach the Turks a lesson that the mighty of this world have consistently refused to learn (hence their unpopularity, gradual disintegration and inevitable downfall) even as we go about refusing to learn a more obvious lesson, namely that a house divided against itself cannot stand (hence our status as perennial losers).


STATUS QUO
Solutions to problems are unwelcome where exposing past blunders is not an option. Our leadership seems to be saying, “We will consider the viability of your solutions provided you do not question our infallibility.” They ignore the obvious fact that had they been infallible we would have no problems.
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“What would you have done in their place?” is one of those loaded questions that is raised again and again. If you say, “I would have done things differently,” they will say, “So you think you are smarter? Easy to say, harder to prove.”

What I prefer to say instead is: “Very probably I would have done what they did, with one difference: I wouldn't spend the rest of my life blaming others and pretending I am infallible even as I go about committing the same blunder over and over again.”
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Our central problem today is a leadership that is incapable of doing what must be done because doing so would expose the past blunders of incompetent narcissists and their dupes who are infatuated with their own image.
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What blunder am I talking about? That of dividing our greatest source of power and refusing to learn the lessons of history.
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It takes two to tango. We have the leadership we deserve. Our tragedy, our real tragedy is centuries of hopeless subservience and the acquisition of layers upon layers of habits that spring from it, namely, our respect for authority even when this authority mimics Ottomanism and Sovietism.
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Man's original sin is not tasting the fruit from the tree of knowledge but saying “Yes, sir!” not only to God (as Abraham did when ordered to cut his son's throat) but also to any impostor who speaks in His name.


FAITH AND IMAGINATION
Since the ancients could not understand the solar system, in their wisdom, they invented or imagined one they could understand.
All systems of thought, all organized religions and ideologies, are efforts to reduce a complex and incomprehensible reality to our own level even if it means perverting it in the process. Hence the celebrated dictum: “Man cannot create a single worm, yet he has created ten thousand gods” -- and, one could add, for every god, ten thousand lies.
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The human brain is a miracle more complex than a thousand computers combined. Its urge to understand and explain is as irresistible as the urge to procreate, and to procreate at all cost, even if it means procreating charlatans and dupes willing to kill and die in the name of a lie.
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God orders Abraham to butcher his son Isaac to prove his loyalty to Him. I challenge anyone to imagine a worst case of abuse of power.
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Is it possible to be honest and to speak of God or in His name? Even when Mother Teresa, that most exemplary of saints, lost her faith, she did not dare to say so openly when she was alive.


ON PROPAGANDA AND RELATED ATROCITIES
Propagandists and their dupes are less like victimizers and victims and more like co-conspirators.
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For every temptation to believe in a flattering lie there is a counter-urge to confront the truth no matter how unpleasant.
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To suppress a truth does not mean the obliterate it.
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If in crime it's cherchez la femme, in all verbal communication it's cherchez the unsaid or the covered up -- there it is, step one of deconstruction 101.
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I don't understand everything and I don't want to understand everything because I already understand enough; I also understand that there isn't one hell of a lot I can do with what I understand except to become more aware of my own powerlessness.
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Our history makes one point very clear: in time of trouble, when we need them most, our political parties are nowhere to be seen. But in time of peace they are all over the place -- in schools, churches, community centers, and the media, speechifying, sermonizing, editorializing, organizing demonstrations, lobbying, and, above all, rewriting history in their efforts to cover up their blunders and inability to face facts and to come to grips with reality.



Ara Baliozian




Reader's Comment

I have enjoyed as usual reading the excellent and wise remarks of Ara Baliozian. However, I think that in the first paragraph, he made a unilateral comment about the barbarism of Turks only. Apparently, the writer has overlooked your posting here. I will be pleased if he glances the contents and bring a clarification to the paragraph IV Atrocities at the bottom section, and in particular the sentence: "...that Armenians massacred Musulmans on a large scale with many refinements of cruelty..."

Isn't wiser to bury the past with all its causes and sins, and look what can be done for a brighter future for all, not repeating past mistakes?

Sincerely
Sukru S. Aya

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