05 September 2009

2946) "Turks Are Nice People Provided You Don't Step On Their Tail"

A survivor: “Turks are nice people provided you don't step on their tail.”
*
Roupen Sevag, prominent author and victim, in a letter to his German fiancée. “The Turks are nice people if you get to know them.”
*
An Armenian: “Our revolutionaries were no better than a frog trying to rape an elephant.”
*
General Antranik: “Our revolutionaries should hang from the nearest tree.”
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Philip Mansel, author of CONSTANTINOPLE: CITY OF THE WORLD'S DESIRE (London, 1995): “Some Armenians hoped for a massacre in the belief that it would provoke the intervention of the great powers.”
*
Christopher J. Walker, English historian: “Anyone who has studied the history of the Armenians will know that perhaps the single most dangerous illusion that the Armenians entertained was that 'Christendom' (meaning France and Britain; Italy, Germany or Russia didn't quite count) would come and rescue them.”
* . .
Artin Dadian, Armenian diplomat who in 1896 was appointed by the Sultan president of a commission to resolve the conflict between the Empire and the Armenian revolutionaries, in a letter to Tashnak leaders: “First, Europe shows complete indifference and says there is no Armenian question as far as they are concerned. Second, the threat of the complete annihilation of the Armenian nation has not yet entirely passed, and third, the people are tired of revolutionary actions and are ready to patch up their differences with the government in order to remain safe from further reprisals such as have almost wiped out our people from the face of the earth. Fourth, various organizations are fighting different causes, each in their own way, and in the middle of all this stands one pitiful Artin Dadian, who on the one hand begs the Sultan for mercy by telling him that this would be the best thing for his empire and on the other hand fights base individuals who in order to attain their selfish aims are willing to sell their nation.”
*
Philip Mansel again: “In 1895-6 both the Sultan and the Armenian revolutionaries treated the Armenians of Constantinople as pawns without regard for human life.”


CHOOSING SIDES
*****************************
Sometimes I am accused of hating myself and my fellow Armenians by readers who are so convinced they are lovable that they cannot imagine anyone capable of resisting their charms.
The flunky of an archbishop once wrote me an angry letter demanding to know if I thought I was the only Armenian writer who has been treated badly. In my reply I said: “No, of course I don't think I am. That is why I speak with the strength of many. And what about you? On whose side are you?”
As you may have guessed, I never heard from him again.
I was reminded of this exchange recently when I read his obituary.
Hating Armenians: what unmitigated nonsense!
I have nothing against honest men, regardless of nationality.
But I loathe exploiters who think you should be grateful to them.
I detest fools who pretend to be so smart that they think they can treat you like an idiot and get away with it.
I can't stand phony patriots who betray their fellow Armenians to the authorities in the name of law and order as established by sultans, commissars and their Ottomanized and Sovietized successors – and here I could make a long list of writers who perished as a result of this aberration.
What's there to like about arrogant dupes who will believe anything that flatters their crippled little egos.
I have nothing but contempt for victims who turn into victimizers the first chance they get, even when their victims happen to be fellow Armenians.
I despise Armenians in positions of power who, after brainwashing us into believing we are in the best of hands, refer to us as “assh*les” and “sh*ts” among themselves.
And you, gentle reader, on whose side are you?


HOMELAND
*****************************
Homeland is where you were born and spent your childhood.
Homeland is where you were educated as an adolescent.
Homeland is where you are allowed to work and provide for your family.
I was born in Greece, educated in Italy, and am now a citizen of Canada.
I have three homelands but Armenia is not one of them.
Homeland is where the human rights of a law-abiding citizen are respected.
I do not call homeland a country ruled by former commissars whose role models are executioners.
Homeland is not where respectable young women are driven into prostitution because they have no other option.
Homeland is not where you are beaten up for daring to expose corruption.
Homeland is not where cops no longer catch thieves because, if they did, they would be arresting one another.
Homeland is not where only tourists with deep pockets are welcome with open arms.
Homeland is not where honesty and objectivity are criminal offenses.
Homeland is not where reason is confused with treason.
Homeland is not where its best and brightest are discarded to wander as strangers in strange lands.
Homeland is not where the poor and the needy are dependent on the charity of swine.
Who would have guessed there would come a day when Armenians would miss the good old days under Stalin?
If Naregatsi were alive today he would lament not his many sins, failings, and transgressions but the degradation of the state.


A HUMBLE REQUEST
*********************************
Abovian committed suicide,
Baronian was betrayed to the police,
Bakounts was shot,
Mahari was sent to Siberia,
Shahnour survived on $8.00 a month
(compliments of a national benefactor),
Zarian was treated as a madman in the diaspora
and a non-person in the Homeland.
Please, don't call me an Armenian writer.
Call me a marginal scribbler;
but if that's too much to ask,
call me a face in the crowd
whose sole ambition in life
is to be an honest witness.
I may have a better chance to survive that way.
*
WISDOM
*****************
Treat your friends as potential enemies.
*
DIPLOMACY
***********************
Treat your enemies as future friends.
*
IF
**************
If I were to write things with which you agree,
I would be only your echo
and you would be a fool
wasting your time reading yourself.


WEDNESDAY, 26 AUGUST, 2009
***********************************************
ON UNDERSTANDING
*****************************
We don't understand ourselves
and the forces that shaped our identity
not because we are incomprehensible
but because those whose task it is
to explain things to us
have done their utmost to muddy the waters.
*
You want to know more about a man?
Ask him questions.
You want to know him better?
Ask his friends.
But if you want to have a balanced view,
cross-examine his enemies.


ON WAR
***********************
People don't declare war, politicians do.
Collective evil is an extension of individual evil as surely as massacres are extensions of serial killers even when they call themselves kings, sultans, emperors, and presidents.
People do not consent to being victimizers and victims.
Victimizers and victims are manufactured as surely as products displayed on shelves in department stores and supermarkets.
*
ON LABELS
**************************
To those of my readers who hang all kinds of nasty labels on me, I say: You are barking up the wrong tree. I am against labels as surely as I am against chief executive officers who manufacture them.
God created man.
It is my ambition to be born again as a human being.
To those who find my ideas unpatriotic or anti-Armenian, I say: Give yourself another decade or two; and if you are as slow as I am, add another decade for good measure.
*
ON BLUNDERS
******************************
I have committed my share – make it, more than my share – of blunders and I know how easy it is to commit them and, having committed them, how hard it is to admit them.
*
ON SUBSERVIENCE
************************************
As long as you remain subservient, you will never discover who you really are and how much power you have.
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LITERATURE AND PHILANTHROPY
********************************************
When I went into this business I made a vow never to be unkind to anyone. I ascribed most of our problems – divisions, intolerance, dogmatism and so on – to individuals with poor manners acquired in the Ottoman Empire or the Soviet Union, both of which I considered quintessentially unArmenian. For a while I kept my promise. I was kind even to unkind readers until I realized that I was confusing literature with philanthropy. I am not talking an eye for an eye now. I am saying speaking truth to power even if it means exposing liars, frauds, and bloodsuckers.


SERMON
***************************************************
As you grow older, your childhood acquires a different complexion. You begin to realize that those who shaped your worldview were fallible human beings like yourself and most of what they said was nonsense motivated by uncertainty, confusion, and fear. That's when you begin to think for yourself and rely less on someone else's judgment.
*
Nationalist historians are children who refuse to grow up. They continue to classify their fellow men as friends and enemies. They continue to preach patriotism even after they recognize it as the root of all prejudice, xenophobia, lies, conflicts, wars, and massacres. Some of them may have second thoughts but by then it may be too late because propaganda is the only field of human endeavor in which they excel. It is, in other words, their bread and butter, and you will be surprised what men are capable of doing in defense of their source of income and their ability to provide for their family.
*
Generally speaking, people are not disposed to hate or harm men they know nothing about. But expose them to propaganda and they turn into killers and are admired as heroes.
*
My critics tell me I repeat myself. But I suspect, deep down it is not my central message that bores them but their fear of losing their infantile illusions. They say the same prayers every day and listen to the same sermons against sin every Sunday; they read the same anti-Turkish editorials and commentaries in our weeklies; and it doesn't even occur to think of them as repetitions. But confront them with a different message for the second time, and immediately they recognize it as repetition. If they go on reading me, it may be because the strange and the unknown have always been sources of fascination to all men regardless of race, color, and creed. It is what drives them to explore, experiment, and discover. And even when they fail to discover a new continent or theory, they may discover something even more important. They may discover that the human mind is a universe in its own right and most of it is shrouded in mystery.
*
Freedom, real freedom, does not mean the freedom to do this, that, or the other, but to explore the unknown. And by contrast, clinging to the familiar and the known is subservience and slavery – Ottomanism and Sovietism by other means.
*
At the end of everything I write, I would like to add: I could have said this better. Forgive me if I relied too much on your willingness to work with me.


NOTES & COMMENTS
***************************************************
The perpetrators of the Genocide saw all Armenians as their mortal enemies. We make the same mistake when we see all Turks the same way.
*
“No one understands Turks as well as we do,” bragged Oshagan. What he didn't say is what exactly did he do with his superior brand of understanding.
*
What matters is not what we know but what we do with our knowledge -- beside dropping our pants and bending over – if you will forgive my French.
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It is because we don't understand our enemies that we don't understand one another; and because we don't understand one another we view dissent as treason. Every failing or transgression has its own inbuilt punishment.
*
I cherish my mediocrity if only because I owe my continued existence to it. We all know what happens to those who dare to achieve excellence.
*
Panturkism: a movement whose aim is to unite Turks of the world.
There is no corresponding Armenian movement.
*
We like to speak of treaties as if they were Holy Writ carved in stone. “Treaties,” General de Gaulle has said, “are like girls and roses: they last while they last.”
And sometimes, unlike girls and roses, they don't even last.
*
We recognize two ways of solving a problem:
(one) to pretend it doesn't exist, and
(two) to classify it as insoluble.
*
We use the phrase “We need solutions” as synonymous with “Shut up!”
*
A fanatic is one in whose Decalogue there is only one commandment: “Thou shalt hate unto death anyone who dares to disagree with the party line.”


TALAAT & CO.
***************************************************
There is only one victim mentioned in the entry on Talaat Pasha (spelled Talat Pasa) in the ENCYCLPAEDIA BRITANNICA (1979 edition): himself; and only one Armenian, his assassin.
Please note that, entries in reputable reference works like the BRITANNICA are, as a rule, penned not by nationalist historians with an ax to grind but by so-called objective, impartial, and internationally respected scholars.
As for our great revolutionary heroes: as far as I know, none of them is accorded an entry or even a single line in the BRITANNICA.
Moral: Don't believe everything you read, especially when the subject is politicians and their place in history.
*
All talk of good and evil in a political context is relative and dependent on whose ox is being gored. Who could be more evil than an honest politician (assuming of course he exists) who leads the nation to war, defeat, and genocide?
*
We like to speak of Lincoln and FDR as shining examples of great statesmen. But in the eyes of millions of Americans Lincoln is no better than Talaat, FDR might as well be a brother to Stalin, and Obama another Hitler.
At one time or another even Nobel Prize winners like Hamsun, Shaw, Churchill, Sartre, and Malraux were taken in by the likes of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and Mao.
*
Sometimes knowing only one side of the story is worse than knowing nothing if only because total ignorance may lead to curiosity, and partial knowledge may lead to prejudice, hatred, war, and massacre.
In this context it is safe to assume that the brainwashed outnumber the objective, impartial, and honest a thousand to one (assuming he exists).
I am reminded of Hegel's famous last words: “No one understood me except one, and even he didn't understand me.”
But according to Schopenhauer, Hegel was one of the greatest charlatans that ever crawled between heaven and earth.
*
Whenever there is any talk of good and evil in human affairs, I am reminded of the African chieftain as quoted by C.G. Jung: “When I steal my enemy's wives, it's good. When he steals mine, it's bad.”
*
General Antranik is known to Azeris as an “ethnic cleanser” or their Talaat. Propaganda? Not quite. A Tashnak leader once confided to me: “We had to get rid of him (General Antranik) because he went on a rampage massacring indiscriminately defenseless women and children..”
The same General Antranik once stated: “I am not a nationalist. I am on the side of the oppressed regardless of nationality.”
*
Whom can we trust?
My answer: Keep an open mind and trust no one, especially someone with an ax to grind, a score to settle, and a blunder to cover up.



USEFUL IDIOTS
***************************************************
Hegel is right. Those in power will never give it up without a bloody fight.
My critics call me anti-Armenian and pro-Turkish.
They say I am damaged goods in need of psychiatric care.
They say I collect everything negative that has ever been said about us and I quote out of context.
They say my knowledge of history, unlike theirs, is one-sided and defective, my judgment untrustworthy, and my sense of fairness perverted.
And now, consider what's happening in America today.
They go to town-hall meetings armed with guns.
They call Obama a Nazi.
If Obama is a Nazi, so were FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Clinton, because all of them were for comprehensive and universal health care.
If being critical of the status quo were pro-Turkish, then all of our writers, from Khorenatsi and Yeghishé to Zohrab and Zarian were pro-Turkish. Which is not just wrong but absurd in view of the fact that both Khorenatsi and Yeghishé (5th century) lived and wrote at a time when Turks had not yet appeared on the horizon.
To paraphrase Lenin, a dupe is a dupe, and a useful idiot is a useful idiot regardless of nationality. The average Armenian, very much like the average American, is brainwashed to believe he knows all he needs to know and armed with that conviction and with the blessings of his “betters” (which in our case, are no better than wheeler-dealers, and in the case of Americans, private insurance companies, all 1300 of them, each with its own chief executive officer and fat annual bonus) demonize the opposition, sling mud hoping some of it will stick, and entertain the illusion that since this tactic has worked in the past, it may work again.


ARMENIANISM
***************************************************
Eliminate all traces of Ottomanism and Sovietism from Armenianism – what's left? A blind man looking for a black hat in a dark room.
*
It has been the destiny of Armenian writers to write for Armenians and to be read by fools.
*
Don't get me wrong.
I don't write against you.
I write against myself.
I was a liar.
I was worse than a liar.
I was the dupe of liars.
I trusted my “betters.”
On what grounds?
I no longer remember.
I was too young and ignorant to need grounds.
I needed a lawyer at a time when I didn't even know lawyers existed.
*
If what I say is wrong and you correct me, where's the harm?
*
I write what I think for readers who want to read what they feel.
*
Just because no one writes as I do, it doesn't mean no one thinks as I do. It only means they have given up on us.
*
Armenians excel in one field of creativity: misunderstanding simple sentences in the English language.
*
I was brought up to believe three things:
The world is a rotten place. (It is).
I am smart. (I am not).
My betters know better. (They do not).
*
To resurrect the dead is easy.
To resurrect the living more difficult.
To resurrect the brain-dead, impossible!
*
You need the combined strength of Hercules, Atlas, and Samson to open a closed mind.


ON TRIBALISM
***************************************************
Nikol Aghbalian: “We Armenians are products of the tribal mentality of Turks and Kurds, and this tribal mentality remains stubbornly rooted even among our leaders and elites.”
*
When it comes to understanding our history and the forces that went into shaping our identity, we might as well be at the Neanderthal stage.
*
No one can be as naïve (a euphemism for stupid) as a self-assessed smart Armenian, if only because he believes in his own assessment of himself.
*
When we speak of solutions, we think of a paragraph or even several numbered paragraphs of verbal formulas that, after convincing us we are on the wrong path, will lead us to the right one. Whereas I think there are no paragraphs, or books, or even entire libraries that can convince a deceiver that deception is wrong or a dupe that he is a dupe. Mankind has been blessed with a large number and variety of reformers, messianic figures, prophets, thinkers, philosophers, and teachers none of whom appears to have had any discernible effect on deceivers, including our own. But if you insist on numbered paragraphs, I submit what follows for your consideration.
*
1.
Our problems are national but our loyalties are tribal.
*
2.
Loyalty to the tribe and loyalty to the nation are mutually exclusive concepts.
*
3.
When a tribal leader speaks, he is believed by his tribe, and a tribal leader will never say tribalism is wrong.
*
4.
Tribalism is wrong because it divides the nation thus making it more vulnerable to foreign aggression.
*
5.
What's uppermost in the minds of tribal leaders is not the welfare of the nation but their own powers and privileges.
*
6.
Tribal leaders would gladly sacrifice the nation in defense of their powers and privileges.
*
7.
Tribal leaders may concede that as human beings they have made mistakes but they will never admit that their greatest mistake is their own continued existence.
*
8.
Even when they speak the truth, tribal leaders do so in defense of a big lie.
*
9.
Politics favors deceivers but not all deceivers and not all the time.
*
10.
We will begin to solve our problems on the day we drive tribal leaders out of business.
*
11.
Neanderthal man was tribal.


UNDERSTANDING ARMENIANS
***************************************************
“I know all I need to know.”
The words of a self-satisfied ignoramus who had an ignoramus as a teacher.
*
“The universe is comprehensible,” Einstein said.
So are Armenians. And we won't need an Einstein to explain them.
*
We like to say – it pleases us to say – it flatters our vanity to say, we were harmless prey and they were bloodthirsty predators; we were civilized herbivores and they were carnivorous barbarians. Which, in addition to being racist talk, is nonsense. Our ancestors, the Urartians, though inferior in numbers and military might, never surrendered to the Assyrians, the most formidable carnivores and bullies in the block.
In the Middle Ages, Armenian mercenaries were the most feared and expensive fighters money could hire.
Our Byzantine emperors and their Armenian generals were quintessential predators of Napoleonic dimensions (Spengler).
If we became prey it may be because we picked the wrong fight with the wrong enemy at the wrong time and place. And as if that weren't enough, we were divided against a united enemy.
*
More on divisions:
Imagine Prince Hamlet confronting the Fool.
Hamlet has a large variety of the most advanced weapons at this disposal, and the Fool only a club, but since he cannot make up his mind which weapon to use, he is clubbed to death.
Or consider the case of two retards confronting two smart operators with genius-level IQs who cannot decide on their strategy and end up fighting each other. Who wins?
*
Empires, civilizations, and nations are not killed, they commit suicide.
*
To those who say I quote things out of context, I suggest they read the books I cite; they will get all the context they need and more.
Begin with Toynbee's STUDY OF HISTORY and Philip Mansel's CONSTANTINOPLE. Both are big books but both also come with an index. Which means, no need to read them from beginning to end, just those pages in which Armenians are discussed. Needless to add, those who already know all they need to know, need not apply.
*
It never pays to sling mud hoping some of it will stick. That's not an argument but a tactic worthy of a self-satisfied ignoramus.


CROSS-EXAMINATION
***************************************************
Q: You have been saying some very strange things lately.
A: Are you going to quote me now? I hate to hear my own words thrown back at me.
Q: In that case I will paraphrase you.
A: Much better, much better!
Q: Are Turks smarter than Armenians?
A: Smarter? Probably not. Luckier? Certainly.
Q: Luckier, in what way?
A: Better leadership. Or, if you prefer, more disciplined, more experienced, more professional leaders.
Q: Was the Genocide justified?
A: Justified? Certainly not! Explainable, maybe.
Q: What's the difference?
A: To explain is not to justify. You may explain a volcano. You may explain cancer. You may even explain a war. But you don't necessarily justify them.
Q: Does that make the crime of genocide less evil or the Turks less responsible?
A: No, certainly not. It may however make our leadership more incompetent.
Q: So you agree that the Turks behaved like bloodthirsty savages.
A: The few criminals among them did, yes, certainly. Did they represent the nation? I don't think so. Did Talaat represent the will of the people? Of course not. He was not democratically elected. But then, neither were our revolutionaries. The overwhelming majority of Turks were not guilty or responsible for what was done in their name, in the same way that the overwhelming majority of Armenians did not deserve their fate.
Q: Is it possible that I have misunderstood you on all these points?
A: Either that or, as one of my critics once pointed out to me, I don't know how to write.
Q: Which is it -- my fault or yours?
A: Hard to say. What I write, what you read, what you understand, and what you remember are four different things. And sometimes to read can be more challenging than to write. It took me several decades to write as I do. It took you a few minutes to read me. You cannot expect to cover the same ground that I covered in, say, thirty years in thirty seconds. If I write objectively and you read me emotionally, the twain shall never meet.
Q: Some of your readers are convinced you are anti-Armenian and pro-Turkish. True or false?
Q: I have also been accused of being in the pay of the Turkish government. My answer is an old one: My poverty is proof of my honesty. I don't judge people by their nationality. There are good Turks as surely as there are bad Armenians. My quarrel is with leaders and their dupes – regardless of nationality.
Q: If true, why do you criticize Armenians more than Turks?
A: Because Turks have their own critics. How many critics do we have? We have countless accounts of our recent history in which Turkish criminal conduct is described in great detail. Can you name a single book written by an Armenian that exposes the blunders of our own leadership?
Q: ...
A: That's what I thought.



Ara Baliozian


Readers Comment:
"Many Think That I Am Of Armenian Race Or Family And Changed My Name" Sukru Server Aya

1 comments:

Mehmet Baris Hitay said...

Nicely executed as works of legendary poet Khalil Gibran. Turks and Armenians co-existed for centuries. City of Adana is a beautiful example of this. Being a young and educated Turkish person, I am very upset about this prolonged stress. We should continue sincere efforts to establish a decent Turkish image. Historically we, Turks never keep hatred towards anybody. I hope one day all the world will appreciate this very important nature of a race.
Million thanx again Mr. Baliozian, wishing health and prosperity to your family.
Mehmet Baris Hitay

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