1360) Understanding Turks

I make an effort to understand Turks because any child or fanatic can hate. As for understanding Armenians: I don't even try because at one time or another I have been all of them in all their stages of disintegration, megalomania, self-righteousness, obstinacy, and that unique combination of naiveté and cunning which is peculiar to all underdogs from Jews to Gypsies.

The problems with nationalism is that it narrows our horizons and with them our understanding of the world. Or, as the Malaysian proverb has it: "A frog beneath a coconut shell believes there is no other world."

An Armenian who dehumanizes Turks, sooner or later will dehumanize his fellow Armenians. This is a rule without exceptions.

Good logic has the power to silence even a loudmouth smart-ass suffering from an advanced case of verbal diarrhea. This rule, however, has one exception: the Armenian of the species. . .

In a commentary titled "American forces in Iraq could learn from Genghis Khan," I read: "The Mongols spared anyone with a craft such as carpentry and writing." Henceforth whenever I use the word Mongoloid I will think Armenoid.

If you think what I write is gloomy because I see only the dark side of things, you couldn't be more wrong. I become gloomy only when I think of my fellow Armenians.

"I am right!" - the false assumption that is at the source of all conflicts. If all self-righteous and dogmatic people taught themselves to say, "I could be wrong," we would have fewer casualties of war.

I know too much about power and propaganda to be a partisan of any ideology or movement. I also know it is not necessary to adopt an ideology or join a movement to be a revolutionary. Be honest and the whole world will be against you.

Ever since I decided to expect nothing from my fellow men I have not experienced disappointment.

If Armenians change some day, it will not be because of what I or a thousand others before me have said but because reality will have eroded their lies and half-truths. Why go on writing? That's a question I should be asking myself. Your question should be: Why go on reading? "Looking for fish, don't climb a tree," says a Chinese proverb. And I say, "Looking for flattery, read a brown-noser."

One reason I ignore some of my critics is that I don't know how to argue against humbug. Does anyone? Humbug has resisted millennia of philosophy and science and it will probably outlive long after we are all dead and buried -and by we I mean Homo sapiens.

I have no illusions about my fellow men, including my fellow Armenians. If some day in the near or distant future a Stalin-like figure emerges and takes over our homeland, he will have all the support he needs from our chic neo-Bolsheviks in the Diaspora and as many commissars his dark heart desires. This may happen anywhere, of course, but not as easily in countries with democratic traditions. As for our commissars: after shooting all dissidents (assuming there will be any left by then) they will do what they did under Stalin: they will start shooting one another. Which raises the question: Why fight a system, any system, knowing that sooner or later all systems collapse?

Chinese proverb: "Those who have free seats at a play hiss first." I experience the truth of this proverb every day.

There are several theories as to why no Armenian - except perhaps Raymond Damadian - has ever come close to winning the Nobel Prize, one of them being the charge of plagiarism, which was leveled against Damadian himself by a fellow Armenian scientist. Since I am not personally acquainted with Damadian and my scientific knowledge is less than rudimentary, I am in no position to testify on Damadian's integrity as a man or a scientist. But I do know his accuser and I have no reason to suspect he is motivated by anti-Armenian sentiments. On the contrary, he happens to be an ardent patriot.

There is of course nothing new about the charge of plagiarism in reference to Armenians. Similar charges have been leveled against some of our ablest writers by their peers - see Oshagan on Zarian, Zarian on Charents, and Shahnour on Siamanto.

Let me expand on the question placed at the beginning of this article: Why is it that nearly 200 Jews have been awarded the Nobel Prize but not a single Armenian? The answer favorite by our anti-Semites (of whom we have our share) is that the Nobel Committee is an integral part of the Zionist conspiracy. By contrast, honest Armenians (we have some of them also) maintain that the reason is much simpler: no Armenian has ever deserved the Prize.

My favorite theory is that, whenever an Armenian is mentioned as a possible candidate, the Nobel Committee receives a mini-avalanche of letters written by Armenians accusing the nominee of moral turpitude, terrorist sympathies, mediocrity, dishonesty, and a number of other failings and secret vices. Either that or a member of the Nobel Committee has an Armenian adviser who kyboshes every Armenian nomination. In the investigation of a crime, they say "Cherchez la femme." About the Nobel Committee's anti-Armenianism, I say, "Cherchez l'armenien."

The older I grow the more ignorant I feel, perhaps because the more aware I become of all those things that I know nothing about. As a boy I was not aware of my blind spots; now I am more aware of them than the sum total of all those things that I have learned. For a long time I thought of the famous Socratic dictum "The only thing I know is that I don't know" as a purely theoretical rather than pragmatic assertion. I know now that it stands for the difficulty, not to say the impossibility, of knowing anything. I think therefore I am? What if what I think is a mechanism within me of whose operation I know nothing about, in the same way that I know nothing about my being on its molecular or even cellular level? And to say that one doesn't have to know anything about molecules or cells to know about being on a human level, is like saying one doesn't have to know anything about trees to know all about forests.

I have learned much more from my critics than they have learned from me, perhaps because I have everything to learn from them and they have nothing.I mean, nothing to learn from me, of course. One of the things that I have learned is that, if it were up to them, before they start writing and publishing, writers would apply for a license with two requirements: first, knowing and understanding everything; and second, being infallible. Failure to fulfill these two requirements would result in being disqualified. As for our bosses, bishops, and benefactors: like the Pope of Rome, who is said to be infallible in matters of faith, they are infallible so long as they speak in the name of God and capital - make it Capital and god. Which means, they don't need a license to operate the machinery of state or community. Facts are on their side. History proves that we owe our very survival to them. If it weren't for them we would have shared the fate of all those empires, nations, and tribes that have bitten the dust and ended on the garbage dump of history. As for our victims: you can't have an omelet without breaking a few eggs - or, in our case, a few million of them.

We were comparing Armenians to Jews - this motor-mouth anti-Semite and I - and when I said something to the effect that Jews like Jesus, Marx, and Freud shaped the thinking of entire continents and civilizations, unlike our own thinkers who cannot even change the mind of a single loud-mouth, know-it-all smart-ass dupe with a single-digit IQ, she retorted: "Marx and Freud have been curses on mankind rather than blessings. As for Jesus: he was more Armenian in spirit than he was Jewish, because Jews rejected him and Armenians were the first nation to accept him." I challenge anyone to assert, suggest, or imply that we are not the real Chosen People.

It is beyond me why people like Tiny Tim, Donald Trump, Paris Hilton, Pamela Anderson, and O.J. Simpson become celebrities in America. In my kind of world they would be arrested for making a public nuisance of themselves.

Why is it that phonies are idolized and honest men shunned, sometimes even crucified? We say we hate wars but we look up to war makers. We are against bloodsuckers but we admire exploiters.

In the Ottoman Empire we were politically starved. During the Genocide the "hungry Armenian" became a cliché in America. The survivors were economically starved in alien slums. Today we are culturally starved by our own Turcocentric academics. So much so that whenever I take the liberty of paraphrasing Raffi, Baronian, Odian, Zarian, and Massikian, our brainwashed defenders of the faith call me a pro-Turkish degenerate denialist.

What if, when I finally see the light, all I will see is the darkness in man's heart?

Dupe: anyone who believes in human beings and their institutions. Relax! I am only paraphrasing the First Commandment: "Thou shalt have no other gods."

The Brits associate the world "loss" with the loss of their Empire. "Survival" to Canadians means surviving American influence. To Americans yesterday is "history." To us these words have a far more literal meaning.

I remember to have read somewhere that the decline of the British Empire began at the turn of the last century when an English writer published a commentary in which he said something positive about British rule. One could say that our moral disintegration began on the day one of our charlatans bragged about us being the first nation to convert to Christianity.

In this morning's paper I read that Orhan Pamuk has published an editorial criticizing "the Turkish news media and government for suppressing free expression." To him I say, "Welcome to the club."

A key passage in Taner Akjam's A SHAMEFUL ACT: THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE AND THE QUESTION OF TURKISH RESPONSIBILITY (New York, 2006) reads: ".there remains the high probability of such acts [i.e. genocides] being repeated, since every group is inherently capable of violence; when the right conditions arise this potential may easily become reality, and on the slightest of pretexts. There are no exceptions."

Translated into dollars and cents this simply means, none of us can afford to assume a morally superior stance. It follows, to pretend that we Armenians are better than Turks is racist nonsense. If we have not committed genocide it may be because we had neither the opportunity nor the power. To put it differently: if the Ottoman Empire had been an Armenian Empire and if the Turks had been a hostile minority with territorial ambitions, we would have done to them what they did to us. That's the meaning of the final "no exceptions."

Like prosecutors eager to prove their case, our Turcocentric pundits and academics have been stressing Turkish responsibility to the exclusion of all other considerations. It has been their position, as it was Toynbee's in his first phase, to ignore all questions dealing with Armenian responsibility and to focus exclusively on Turkish actions. To separate morality from political or legal issues is, I believe, to commit the same mistake that Turks commit when they deny the reality of the Genocide.

There is another and a far more practical reason why we should not look down on Turks by calling them "bloodthirsty Asiatic barbarians" or other derogatory terms. In addition to being self-serving it is also politically inadvisable because it may alienate even Turks, like Akjam and Pamuk, who are on our side.

A final comment on the misconception of moral superiority: a morally superior human being does not as a rule assert moral superiority because he is too busy examining his own conscience and reflecting on his failings and transgression. I would go further and say that asserting moral superiority is the surest symptom of moral inferiority.

THE ARMENIAN REPORTER has published a long illustrated article in which one of our self-appointed dime-a-dozen pundits sets out to prove that Armenians are great because they have produced many great men, among them Raymond Damadian, Michael Arlen, William Saroyan, Alan Hovhannes, Ivan Galamian, and Aram Khachatourian. Mercifully Gregory Peck (Krikor Ipekian), Jack Palance (Hagop Palanjian), and Elizabeth Taylor (Yeghisapet Tertsakian) are not included. What seems to have escaped this chauvinist pundit's attention is that all these great gentlemen lived and worked in alien environments. As a result the most important and relevant question remains neither asked nor answered: namely, what is it about Armenian environments that are incapable of producing or even tolerating greatness? The answer must be: in an environment dominated by dishonest mediocrities, honesty and excellence will be seen as undesirable goals, not to say threatening attributes. A mediocrity that has assessed himself as a first-class intellect will feel threatened by anyone who may be better than he. And when dishonest men get together and go about their filthy business behind closed doors, the last thing they want is an honest man who may shatter their image of themselves. Without realizing this so-called patriotic pundit, in his effort to brag about our greatness, has instead succeeded only in exposing the root of our decline and degeneration - envy and fear of honesty and excellence.

P.S. This much said, I am willing to concede that there are at least two fields of human endeavor in which we excel in our environments: fund-raising and charlatanism.

"What kind of Armenians are these?" I would ask myself whenever I thought of our academics (over a thousand of them in the U.S. alone) that produce a plethora of learned texts in which Armenians are not even mentioned. Now finally I have an answer: "Smart Armenians."

The headline of a commentary in this morning's paper reads: "Culture a force for stagnation or change." When things go from bad to worse, as they tend to do sometimes, culture becomes a force for decline and degeneration. That's when the best and the brightest quit and search for challenges in alien environments. Some may call this betrayal. I call it reading the writing on the wall.

Facts don't disagree - they can't. Propaganda does - that's their raison d'etre.

How can anyone be so abysmally wrong and think he is right? This is a question I ask myself again and again when I think of my past.

Unfamiliar idiomatic expressions sometimes read like riddles. Case in point: "Unless the penis dies young, it will surely eat bearded meat." (From Chinua Achebe's ARROW OF GOD.)

Sometimes originality is nothing but undetectable plagiarism, very much like great wealth, which more often than not is nothing but covered-up grand larceny.

Let others speak of family values. Let us learn to speak of national values, which stand in direct opposition to partisan or tribal values.

Saddam was no doubt a bad man and fully deserved his fate. But whether or not his executioners are any better remains to be seen. In movies, good guys prevail; but in life even when bad guys perish the chances are other bad guys will replace them. For centuries we dreamed of a free and independent homeland, and now what we have it, there are those who miss the good old days under Stalin, and I for one cannot blame them. And is there a writer today who does not miss the freedom our writers enjoyed in Istanbul under Sultan Abdulhamid II?

When they say we need constructive or positive critics whose intent is to solve our problems, what they are really saying is that our literature so far has failed to produce a single writer who meets these criteria, and that all our critics have been anti-Armenian degenerates whose sole aim in life was to degrade the nation and to insult its leadership.

Study rules carefully in order to know when and how to break them.

One of the most serious abnormalities inflicted on human beings is considering oneself normal and all others if not abnormal than slight deviations.

For many years I suspected the world was populated by semi-idiots, and then, early one morning, to my shock and outrage, I woke up with the certainty that I was the idiot.

Once upon a time a man ventured into a jungle and as he was being torn to shreds by wild beasts, he said: "I didn't know there were wild beasts in the jungle." Our revolutionaries.

After writing a line, write another that contradicts it and if you see even a quasi-invisible particle of truth in it, rewrite the first line.

Remember, if you identify yourself as infallible, no one will believe you.

Sometimes I am criticized for my rudeness. But even at my worst I am not as rude as the benevolent benefactor who once said to a writer: "I hire and fire people like you every day."

How can anybody be so consistently wrong on so many things for such a long time? This is a question I ask myself again and again, and the only answer I can come up with is that a man's capacity for believing the unbelievable is infinite.

Ara Baliozian

Readers Comments:

1360 - I could not by-pass Ara Baliozian’s typical essay. Just a few highlights:

“Understanding Turks” is not as hard as “understanding the diaspora Armenians in USA and France, that have no knowledge about history, other than what they are being told by “panchoonies”, making a comfortable living by selling this stale tales. (We share everything identically with Turkish Armenians, and cannot understand others).

“God is Armenian” - I like and endorse that, as much as I believe in Noah’s Ark and Abraham’s children !

“Intolerance”: Orhan Pamuk. He won the “Nobel Prize” (Thanks to sponsors including Diaspora Armenians) but seems that he lost for over “noble character” prize.

“No Exceptions”: Ara hits his sledge hammer again on the correct points. Frankly, I get “sick and disgusted” of hearing degrading expressions such as “bloodthirsty Asiatic Barbarians, Murderers, Denialists etc” as if we are on the same level with street hoodlums addressing to each other like “ you s.o.b, you b.s., etc”. Apparently, some persons can feel elevated, only when insulting or debasing others. It is a psychic habit. For those who would call me a “denialist”, should I reply as rapist (of law and justice)? The c .v. of Akcam, Pamuk, Gocek, Shafak and few others, speak for their “freedom of opinion” or better “paid opportunism”.

“Phobia”:: Thanks for the valuable information. Being always attracted to Elizabeth Taylor so much, I would not mind at all her hard pronouncing name, versus her beauty from top to bottom.

Now, the bull’s eye, is the P.S. of Ara, or “fund raising” and “charlatanism”. The moment the “Genocide episode” disappears from the agenda, all fruitful activities fall into dust, as if the king pin was removed.

“Good Old Days” – Freedom of Writers’ in the days of Abdulhamid II. Ara, hits his satiric hammer again!

“Confession”: An excellent last blow from Ara! Just a life experience: In our early high school days, our teacher of Turkish literature used to read us phrases from a book about space, stars and millions of light years which we could not visualize and understand. He put it simple and said: “Boys, what you know is like a ball, and what you don’t know is the outside area of the ball. The moment your knowledge or size of the ball increases, what you don’t know increases accordingly”. Here is a return gift from me to Ara bey’s statement:

< On 21 Feb. 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a church in New Mexico should be exempt from the law, which everybody else has to obey, against the taking of hallucionegic drugs. Faithful members of the Centro Espirita Beneficiente Unico de Vegetal believe that they can understand God only by drinking hoasca tea, which contains the illegal hallucionegenic drug dimethyltryptamine. Note that it is sufficient that they believe that the drug enhances their understanding> ( p.22, The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins)

Sukru Server Aya


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