05 August 2010

3127) Memo To My Turkish Friends:"You Say Armenians Slaughtered Turks. How So.."/ Replying Unfriendly Memos Of Misconception & Ignorance Of History

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(one) we were tiny islands in a vast Turkish sea;
(two) we were not allowed to bear arms; and
(three) we now live on foreign soil and you live in your homeland which was ours long before it was yours.
Armenians are guilty of slaughtering Turks?

There are literally thousands of articles published in the international press that speak of Armenian massacres and deportations in Turkey during World War I some of which have been compiled and published as books. Now then, show me a single article published outside Turkey in which it is stated that it was Armenians who massacred and deported Turks.

I understand and even sympathize with your loyalty to your tribe, but I suggest a man is judged more by his loyalty to principles of justice and fair play and less by his loyalty to a regime.
Speaking of man and criteria of judgment, I am reminded of the old Turkish saying: “Among ten men nine are sure to be women.”

And speaking of loyalty: I would add that loyalty to a regime is at the root of all fascism.
And now let us consider the following scenario: A united Armenia (miracles happen) declares war against a divided, weakened, and demoralized Turkey (after all, even mighty empires fall and vanish from the annals of history) and commits crimes against humanity by slaughtering and deporting innocent Turkish civilians. I assure you there will be honest Armenians (and I like to believe I would be among them) who will denounce the perpetrators in the same way that there are today many honest Turks who have raised their voices against Turkish denialists: you see, we are more alike than you think, with one difference: there are many more of you, which also means more criminals, more fanatics, more liars, and more dupes of propaganda.
On a number of occasions I have been asked by Turkish friends: “If we tried to exterminate Armenians, how come there are so many of you around the world?”

To which I can only say: millions of Jews are alive today all over the world as well as in Israel. Does that mean the Holocaust is a lie?
Another question: Suppose the Ottoman Empire were an Armenian Empire and suppose Turks were a minority in it. And suppose after six long centuries of Armenian oppression some Turks decided to rise against their oppressors: Would you call them freedom fighters, heroic revolutionaries, or terrorists?

You say the Ottoman Empire did not oppress its minorities. Then explain why even the Turks rose against the Sultan? And if you say Talaat was not a fascist guilty of genocide, then explain why he ran away to Berlin?
A final note on truth and propaganda:

Where there are conflicting interests, truth may be difficult to establish, unlike propaganda which is easily identified and defined because it supports one set of interests against another – in addition to flattering the collective ego.

Who needs flattery?

My answer: Maybe the “nine women” mentioned in the Turkish saying quoted above, but surely not the “tenth man.”

You say, “For 600 years Armenians and Turks lived in peace. But suddenly, for no apparent reason, and a time when Turkey was fighting for its own very survival, you decided to side with our enemies and engaged in acts of terrorism within Turkey, thus giving Turks no choice but to take decisive action against you, which is what any state would have done.”
What you say contains a number of misconceptions, distortions, and fallacies.

Our revolutionaries were a handful of young idealists.

They did not represent the people.

None of them was democratically elected.

The deportations and atrocities undertaken by the Turkish state did not target them but innocent law-abiding civilians.

As for Armenian soldiers who fought with the Russians:

again, they did so with no support whatever from the Armenian people within Turkey.

Besides, no one is accusing the Turks of killing Armenian soldiers on the battlefield.
Now, about the myth (a euphemism for the Big Lie)of Armeno-Turkish coexistence:
throughout history all oppressors invariably adopt a paternalist stance towards the oppressed.

They see themselves not as oppressors or masters but as benefactors and protectors of their subjects;

and they are outraged at any show of discontent or dissent which they view as ingratitude.

They are convinced the order established by them has been ordained by the Almighty and anyone who refuses to accept that self-evident truth deserves to die.

To tyrants, exploiters, and imperialists, all revolt is incomprehensible and unjustified.
However, the real issue here is not the psychology of oppressors but why did the Turks target defenseless and law-abiding Armenians?

The obvious answer is, they adopted a racist stance towards them.

When the American ambassador pointed out to Talaat that he was targeting friendly Armenians, Talaat said: “After what we have done to them, all Armenians will be our enemies.”

Talaat understood and admitted what you refuse to understand and admit, perhaps because you continue to think and feel as oppressors.

You think the order established by your military victory should be seen as a final verdict without appeal because ordained by Allah.

You are completely blind to the fact that your military victory was also a moral catastrophe.
And if you say, atrocities and deportations are inevitable consequences of war,
yes, I agree. No one denies that either.

If Armenians see you as Asiatic barbarians it is less for what you have done to them and more for denying its reality.

You say,

“In our place you would have done the same thing.”

To which I can only say, and in our place you would be reacting the same way.
Which means, we may be members of different tribes but the same race – namely, the human race.

It also means we share more things in common than we like to think. And yet, we pretend otherwise and we expect others to believe us perhaps because we don't have as high an opinion of them as we have of ourselves.

This pretense is baseless because we might as well be transparent. We both have a highly developed critical sense when we deal with others, especially those we label as enemies, and lack objectivity when it comes to ourselves.

You think the world needs you more than it needs us, and we think in the long run justice and truth are bound to prevail.

You cannot fool all the people all the time.

We both believe God or truth to be on our side, thus reducing the mystery of existence to a game.

But life is not a game.

Not only today's victor may be tomorrow's loser but also because victory on one level may be defeat on another.

A criminal who believes he is innocent because he is a law-abiding citizen will commit the same crime again and again until he is caught, arrested, tried, and found guilty.
A state that thinks only in terms of power and influence over others is a dehumanized state. That is to say, a state that has committed moral suicide.

Such a state doesn't have to be killed in order to die because it is already dead.

I say this with grief in my heart because it applies to the rest of the world as well, including ourselves.

What nationalism does is to create an a priori positive image of one's nation (“my country, right or wrong”) and to automatically reject anything that may be remotely negative.

Nationalism is less an ideology and more a pathology – a pathology if only in the sense that it divides mankind into us and them, Abels and Cains, friends and enemies -- the kind of enemies that, if you don't kill them first, they will kill you. As a result, murder one is classified as self-defense or at worst justified manslaughter.
My nationalist Turkish friends expect me to believe their version of the past as gospel truth and to reject the version of my own nationalist brothers as a pack of distortions and lies. And because I have been critical of our nationalists too, they think I am on their side and I qualify as an honorary Turk.

I am told some of them even quote me in their writings, websites, and speeches to buttress their denialist position. Which may suggest that they are so hungry for evidence that they are even willing to fabricate it.
What they miss is that my anti-nationalism targets not just Armenian nationalists but all nationalists, including theirs.

Their bias is such that it makes them blind to the reality of their position.

In their view it was not Turks but Armenians who committed atrocities against unarmed civilians. The bones in the desert are not Armenian but Turkish bones. Talaat is not a criminal but a statesman of vision who did not deserve to be gunned down like a dog in the street by a deranged Armenian assassin.
A final comment on the myth of Armeno-Turkish coexistence in the Ottoman Empire.

Gandhi once called the British Empire “satanic.” As far as I know, no one in his right mind has ever described the Ottoman Empire as more civilized and humane than the British Empire. And if some day an ultra-nationalist Turkish historian somewhere calls the regime of the sultans “angelic,” that should be seen as irrefutable evidence of the fact that nationalism is less an ideology and more a pathology, and as such in need of medical treatment rather than philosophical refutation.

You dare to speak of six centuries of peaceful Armeno-Turkish coexistence in the Ottoman Empire. You forget that during this so-called brotherly co-existence you raped our daughters and forced them into concubinage; and you abducted our sons and forced them to kill and die in your imperialist wars of conquest. You did these things legally of course because your legal system was rotten.
Times change and laws change but you continue to think with the old Ottomanized brain, hence the absurd notion that, like the Sultan before them, both Talaat and Kemal represented the Almighty on earth and as such they could do no wrong, and anyone who says otherwise is guilty of treason and deserves to die.
A man can get used to anything. You got used to your own vileness and we got used to our own cowardly subservience. In that sense, the Ottoman Empire was not the blessing you like to believe it was, but a curse to both of us.

And if we massacred you whenever we had the upper hand it may be because as your subjects, we adopted and put into practice the values and methods of our masters. Before you blame us, blame yourself.
In one of his Anatolian travelogues Lord Kinross, a notorious Turcophile and the future author of a mammoth biography of Kemal, quotes an old Turkish peasant as having said: “We taught the Armenians a lesson the will never forget.” This illiterate peasant understood what educated, modernized, denialist scholars pretend not to understand today, namely that, what you did to us can neither be forgotten nor forgiven or, for that matter, covered up.

Ara Baliozian

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