1850) Dead Man Walking

A man is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Because he happens to be an Armenian, he thinks along the following lines: ‘Why should I believe what doctors say? They always see the negative and completely ignore the positive. There is nothing wrong with me. Every organ in my body is in great shape. So what if my pancreas is not perfect. Blood pressure normal, 20/20 vision, no cavities, strong heart, intestine in working order, brain good, liver ditto. To hell with my pancreas. Why should I believe what a lousy doctor says? Even when you trust them, there is no way you can verify what they say….’ . .
As it was to be expected, my selection of Raffi quotations did not please everyone, especially the philistines grown fat on a steady diet of chauvinist crapola. Too negative, they said. So who is perfect, they demanded to know. One could probably make an equally long list of quotations from Raffi that stress the positive. As for the story with the man with terminal cancer who refuses to come to terms with reality: our reality is that we have survived for more than two thousand years and we are still going strong.
Maybe so. But what if most of us did not survive? Even more to the point: what if our best and brightest did not survive? So that we now find ourselves at the mercy of charlatans and rascals whose number one concern is number one and to hell with the nation. And what if these charlatans and rascals may not even be Armenians (according to one of our elder statesmen) but Turks parading, sermonizing, and speechifying in fluent Armenian?
Turks parading as Armenians in our midst? I don’t believe it. What I believe in is Ottomanized Armenians whose value system has been thoroughly perverted by six centuries of subservience. To me, an Ottomanized Armenian might as well be a dead man walking.
Turks parading as Armenians? No way. Armenians parading as Turks, that’s different. Maybe Pamuk and Akcam are Armenians. Call it wishful thinking. Has anyone ever made a study of their ancestry? And speaking of Nobel Prize winning novelists and dissident historians: where are ours? What has happened to our creative impetus, intellectual integrity, objectivity, and courage? Where are our intellectuals? Do we have them? Is there anyone who may be remotely compare to Raffi, Baronian, Odian, Zohrab, Zarian, and Massikian? – writers who dared to speak their minds unafraid of repercussions. Writers who placed their integrity above their popularity and personal welfare. What if, in Massikian’s words, Armenian literature is no better than a cemetery?

Young Turks, Nazis, Bolsheviks, And Neocons
If a critic stresses the negative and ignores the positive, it means he is a prejudiced and hostile witness whose testimony should be stricken from the record. If you think this is a fair statement, think again, because this type of sophistry runs the risk of explaining and justifying some of the worst villains in the history of mankind.
A German neighbor once said to me: “People forget the good things Hitler did for Germany. There was widespread unemployment, poverty and hunger everywhere. He created jobs. He cared for the people.” As Goebbels would say: “Ah, Gott in Himmelreich!”
If a Bolshevik were to read THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO today – assuming of course he knows how to read, which is assuming a great deal – he would say this about Solzhenitsyn: “He is too one-sided, prejudiced, and negative to be trustworthy. All he does is speak of concentration camps and completely ignores the rest of the Soviet Union and the fact that the people never had it so good.”
The following is a quotation from the 1979 edition of the ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA entry on Talaat Pasha (or as the BRITANNICA spells it, Talat Pasa): “A man of swift and penetrating intelligence and integrity…an idealist, forceful but never fanatical or vengeful.”
According to such neocon American pundits and best-selling authors as Ann Coulter, Senator Joseph McCarthy was not a charlatan, a pathological liar, an alcoholic, and a paranoiac, who did more harm than good, but an authentic patriot and a role model. In her own words: “Soviet spies in government were not a figment of the right-wing conspiracy. McCarthy was not tilting at windmills. He was tilting at an authentic communist conspiracy that had been laughed off by the Democratic Party.” And speaking of neocon superpatriots: if you ever criticize any aspect of life in the United States in their presence, you will be told in no uncertain terms, “Love it or leave it.”

On The Need To Assert Superiority
They tell me I hate Armenians, the implication being that they love them. But I see very little love, or even tolerance, in what they say.
They pretend to know more about Armenians than I do, which may indeed be true, for I have never asserted to know everything there is to know about Armenians.
They pretend to understand Armenians better than I do too, which may also be true, for I have never asserted that my understanding is without limits.
They speak of literature and ideas but they show very little appreciation or understanding of both, perhaps because they think the only good ideas are those with which they are in complete agreement. But ideas that are not part of a long dialogue – that is, assertion (or thesis), contradiction (antithesis) and synthesis – are not ideas but dogmas, that is, dead ends like Stalinism, fascism, American neo-conservatism, and our own Turcocentrism.
These superior-type Armenians seem to have missed several fundamental principles about human nature, namely, the morally superior do not feel the need to assert moral superiority, and that the harder one tries to hide one’s inferiority, the more transparent one becomes.

Prospects And Projections
We are a dysfunctional nation, make it, collection of tribes, ruled by mutually hostile gangs, who have brainwashed us to believe we are la crème de la crème, and the rest of the world the scum of the earth; and by the rest of the world I include anyone who has ever said anything remotely critical about us, from Yeghishe and Khorenatsi (5th century) to Zarian and Massikian (20th century).
Do we have a future?
I am not sure.
If we do, will it be more of the same?
What are the chances that we will see the light?
Miracles happen.
You see no light at the end of the tunnel?
In our case, a light at the end of the tunnel would mean an oncoming train.
In other words, no future?
Not quite. I believe in Gandhi’s dictum that no one is beyond redemption.
Do you really believe that?
No, I don’t.
Why are you saying it then?
Sounds positive…and all that crap.

Quotations From Raffi (Hagop Melik-Hagopian: 1835-1888)

“We don’t have an aristocracy. We have no elites and leaders. What we have are merchants and clergymen. Merchants are trash. As for the clergy: they have always been against individual freedom.”
Where there is oppression there will also be cowardice, ignorance, and sloth. A man needs freedom to discover the benefits of freedom.”
“Where Armenian blood flaws, look for an Armenian hatchet.”
“Self-deception is a one-eyed monster that sees only the positive and ignores the negative.”
“Our past is filled with countless instances of betrayal and treachery. Whenever we have been invaded by Persian, Greek, Arab, Seljuk, or Mongol armies, these armies have advanced under the command of an Armenian. Armenians have always fought side by side with the enemy against their own people.”
“Mutual intolerance, divisiveness, envy, betrayal, and a thousand other vices have built permanent nests in our hearts.”
“An Armenian’s worst enemies are not odars but Armenians.”
“Those who are responsible for our safety are themselves a gang of criminals.”

Enemies Of The People
With their customary Ottoman tact, some of my gentle readers do not hesitate to call me, among other things, a mediocrity, a failure, and a traitor. Why would they, why would anyone for that matter, take the words of a mediocrity and a failure seriously enough to lure them into the gutter? If I recycle the ideas of our writers, does that mean the central ideas of our literature are products of mediocrities and failures? Two of our most revered historians of the 5th century, Khorenatsi and Yeghishe, lamented our divisions. And yet, we stand divided to this day. What has changed? If 600 years if Ottoman subservience, a series of massacres, and a genocide have taught us nothing, what are our chances of acquiring wisdom or being receptive to ideas – as opposed to the lies of propaganda? If we are a failure as a nation, who is to blame, our political leadership or our literature? Who are our real traitors – our dividers or our writers who promoted solidarity?
On a more personal level: I may be a mediocrity and a failure in the eyes of some, but it seems to me, I have every right to consider myself as one of the luckiest and most privileged Armenian writers that has ever lived. Think of the fate of some of our greatest writers in the last two centuries: if they did not die in their early twenties or thirties of tuberculosis, they were permanently silenced by the likes of Talaat and Stalin, both of whom enjoyed the support and cooperation of our dupes. The very few who survived, like Zarian and Massikian, were neglected, ignored, and eventually silenced. So much so that, in his deathbed in Yerevan, Zarian was convinced he had been the victim of an attempted assassination (he had had a bad fall; he said he was pushed); and Massikian, a successful lawyer in Egypt, when asked in his deathbed by community leaders to bequeath his considerable wealth to Armenian education institutions, replied by saying, in his view the inmates of a Cairo bordello would be more deserving recipients of his generosity.
Who are the successful Armenian writers? Only those who wrote for odars – Arlen, Saroyan, Troyat, Berberova. The truth of the matter is, we, or rather our political leaders, have no use for writers. Brown-nosers, yes. Writers, no! In what way are we different from “bloodthirsty Asiatic barbarians” who have forced into exile their only Nobel Prize winner? And as our mafias in the Homeland prosper, our writers are forced into exile too. And what happens to them in the Diaspora? Can anyone on this forum name a single one of them? And when our self-assessed superpatriots speak of nationalism, they are too ignorant to see that what they really mean is tribalism.
In our local paper this morning I read a list of the four factors that go into the making of an opinion: the media, the double-talk of politicians, the lessons of history, and one’s personal value system. Which makes me wonder: what happens to a community whose press, schools, historians, and value system are shaped and controlled by the double-talk of politicians? Answer: critics are called traitors and politicians are looked up as statesmen of vision who fully deserve our unswerving subservience. The Sultan is not dead. He lives!
Barry Sonnenfeld: “Some people see the glass half empty. Some see it half-full. I see half a glass of poison.”

A Problem And Its Solution
Everything I write is a confession. When I speak of Ottomanized Armenians I speak of myself. When I speak of Turcocentric ghazetajis I speak of myself too. For more than two decades I reviewed only books (sometimes as many as three a week) that had something positive to say about Armenians or something negative to say about Turks, and needless to add, most of the lines I quoted dealt with atrocities, massacres, and genocide. Half of my first book, THE ARMENIANS: THEIR HISTORY AND CULTURE – A SHORT INTRODUCTION (Toronto, 1975), was not about Armenians but about Turks. It took me more than twenty years to start de-Ottomanizing myself – a painful process and a work in progress.
My critics tell me I write about problems but I don’t provide solutions. Here is a solution for this particular problem: the establishment of research centers and educational programs for both adults and children that will liberate us from our Ottoman chains and allow us to recover our humanity. We should teach our children civics – the meaning of democracy and human rights. Before we try to civilize “barbarians,” we should try to civilize ourselves. Something we will never succeed in doing as long as we allow our ghazetajis to run amok in our press, blogs, and Internet forums.
What to do in the meantime? Easy. No sweat. Send an email to our editors and moderators and keep sending it until you get a reply, an explanation, a promise, or a change in editorial policy. Miracles happen. I don’t believe in them but statistics suggest that if they happened two thousand years ago, they may happen again.
What to say in your email to our editors? Make it short, sweet, and to the point. Sample #1: “Dear Sir” or even better, “Your Excellency: When I read an Armenian weekly, I prefer to read more about Armenians and less about Turks. I do hope you don’t consider my request extravagant, unArmenian or unpatriotic.”
Sample #2:
“Since you write more about Turks than Armenians I suggest you call yourself THE TURKISH REPORTER, or THE TURKISH OBSERVER, or THE TURKISH WEEKLY, or THE ISTANBUL COURIER.”
Sample #3:
“Is your readership going up or down? If down, it may be because there is too much prejudice and hate in it. Please consider a radical change in your editorial policy. Thank you.”

Once More With Feeling
Our Turcocentric ghazetajis (gutter journalists) believe they are defending our cause, they are on our side, they have our national interest at heart. What they fail to see is that on a different much deeper level they may also be promoting victimhood, prejudice, and hatred, which may lower us to the level of those we hate. Don’t get me wrong. As a child I too was brought up to hate Turks. I was taught to hate them because I had two million reasons to do so – and to hate the perpetrators as much their offspring for their refusal to accept any responsibility in the matter. But I am no longer a child and my reason tells me this hatred is wrong because it belongs to my gut and not to my brain. My reason tells me hatred harms me more than it does Turks. It harms me because it closes my mind, it perpetuates my status as a victim, and it makes me dependent on the goodwill of the victimizer. And when our ghazetajis say they don’t hate Turks, they only want justice, then all I can say is that they are far better men than I am. When I was a child no one ever mentioned the word justice in reference to Turks, or for that matter such words as revisionism, denialist, closure. I suspect these words didn’t even exist then neither in Armenian nor in English. Leave it to academics to come up with politically correct euphemisms and to our ghazetajis to exploit them in order to appear better than they are.

Parallel Universes
Belief systems and ideologies (or religions and political parties) allow us to live in a parallel universe in which, very much like the coyote in the Road Runner cartoons, we have the sensation of standing still in midair over the abyss because we don’t yet realize we are falling.
To commit oneself to an idea does not make that idea infallible. To voice an opinion does not make that opinion valid. If ideas and opinions are not constantly revised, they tend to close the mind instead of opening it.
Both Turks and Armenians believe truth to be on their side, which makes them morally superior. But what is moral superiority if not the exercise of mutual tolerance, understanding, compassion, mercy, and ultimately love for our fellow men regardless of race, color, and creed. And what could be more contradictory than to use truth as a means to justify and legitimize prejudice and hatred, that is to say, lies.
There are many theories that explain why Nixon prolonged the war in Vietnam (that resulted in the death of two million Cambodians), why Bush went to war in Iraq, and why the Young Turks committed genocide. The obvious answer is: Nixon, Bush, and the Young Turks did what they did because they had the power. Power is like money: it allows you to do things that if you were poor you wouldn’t even dare to dream of doing. Which leads me to ask: how much of our so-called moral superiority is a direct result of military inferiority? Next question: do you really believe we wouldn’t behave like Nixon, Bush, and Co. if we had the power to do so? If you do, it maybe because you live in a parallel universe.

Hitler: “How fortunate for governments that the people they govern don’t think.”
Overheard: “There are two kinds of people: those who want to kill you, and those who want to save you. It’s as simple as that.” It’s not as simple as that. It’s worse. The overwhelming majority does not care if you live or die, and indifference is worse than hate.
When was the last time you heard any one of our leaders say “the buck stops here,” or words to that effect? When Germany lost World War II Hitler put the blame on the German people, but he was also decent enough to kill himself.
To agree with a politician or a political party is to agree with a propaganda line. To recycle a propaganda line is another form of subservience.
We are an angry people. I sense this anger and its deep roots by some of the comments I read on the Internet. Our leaders are fully aware of this anger and they do their utmost to channel it in the direction of Turks. If it weren’t for Turks, I suspect Armenians would rise against their own leaders and slaughter them, or one another.
If some day the United States agrees with us that the Genocide is not a figment of our imagination, deep inside somewhere they will continue to sympathize with Turks. That’s the way it is with empires – they speak the same language because they are products of similar experiences, policies, and actions. Violence is their common medium – violence and plunder, oppression, discrimination, exploitation, war, conquest, massacre, and genocide. The Turks are fully aware of this fact. Hence, their brazen denials.
How many times we have been told that once upon a time we too had an empire under Dikran the Great? Who has ever wanted to know the number of his victims? Who has even bothered to raise the question?
We are brought up to brag about the fact that some of the greatest Byzantine emperors were Armenians. Does anyone know or care to know the number of their victims? How many Armenians know what Basil II Bulgaroktonous (“Bulgar Slayer”) did to earn that sobriquet? Ancient history? Maybe. Some things may change, but human nature doesn’t. And if you think a contemporary Armenian emperor or super power would be more humane on the grounds that Armenians are a morally superior breed with a unique DNA, you run the risk of justifying the Turkish contention that we are a nation of self-deluded dupes prone to believe figments of our own imagination.

Ara Baliozian

Readers Comment

Dear Ara bey, the Baliouse of Goodwill,

The news posted by Armenians-1915 in my absence are so many that I can read them with delay at home one at a time. Of course, all your editorials find time to be read, not because you happen to be half-Armenian {since you are Catholic} but because I find your words and thoughts very objective and delightful to read and even try to get in the same thinking frequency of yours, which I understand that it is not liked by most other half-Armenians {since most of them are Protestant} which should leave out the truly Armenian Gregorians, in Armenia trying to survive on empty words and high expectations to receive high restitutions {with service charges for those who secure it} and the Turkish Armenian community plus the temporary emigrant illegal workers in Turkey of Gregorian faith, who are greatly disturbed by this genocide fanfare which over shades their jobs and present peaceful living in perfect harmony {until such time that persons like Hrant Dink, tipped by ANCA, starts to write against the local tide, which forms an excuse for one Turkish dupe, to imitate the ASALA and other terrorists still praised by Armenian clergy. The great difference is that in Istanbul some 100.000 Turks protested this base murder and walked out with signs “we are all Armenians”, whereas I have not heard a single Armenian ever criticized any murder whatsoever, or any Armenian put on trial by Armenians or Western authorities for the atrocities between 1915-1922. The Gumru and Moscow treaties, were pardoning basically the atrocities of the Armenian gangs who were ruthless firstly to the rich Armenians who did not pay or obey orders, and of course on Turks, and naturally there was a competition in reciprocal butchery.

If you will kindly go through the references 762) Anatomy of a "Genocide" with Excerpts from Non-Turkish Sources you will most likely share my personal conclusion that there was no cause before start of the war, no benefit, no time. No means, and definitely no intelligence or capacity of the same people who lost 80.000 out of 90.000 soldiers at Sarikamish in early January because of winter, famine, epidemics. Hell broke loose, after the VAN and other revolts, Dardanelle landing and crystal clear much applauded Armenian braveries against Turks on side of Russians. Surprisingly, I have not read a single line about 2.7 million Muslims who perished in the same period of time because of similar reasons. Non Christians did not count then and do not count now.

Since there is practically no difference in our DNA’s, I personally hate discrimination of people by race, faith, culture, etc. and at least my close Armenian friends never had or have any sense of superiority of inferiority among us. So if there is some Ottomanism shit on all of us, we really do not know how far back that goes to the Byzantines or Asian steppes. I think that the continued brain washing of the Armenian children starting from mothers womb, throughout life, is a serious social ailment, much worse than religious bigotry. Naturally, there is a crème de la crème group making the collections and pushing this full speed all the time.

Do you really think that Pamuk was ever to get the Nobel prize if he did not utter that over 1 million Armenians was killed? Thanks to you, Harry Frankfurt is defining Pamuk on page 18 of “ON TRUTH” when writing” Numerous unbashed skeptis and cynics about the importance of truth {or related importance of long established strictures against plagiarism] have been found among best selling and prize winning authors, among writers for leading newspapers and among hitherto respected historians, biographers, memorists, theorists of literature, novelists – and even among philosophers, who of all people might reasonably have been counted on ti know better “. And regarding the all time turn-around-upside down

Akcam following explanation describes him well “ “These shameless antagonists of common sense – members of certain emblematic subgroup of them call themselves -postmodernists- rebelliously and self-righteously deny that truth has any genuinely objective reality at all”.

In short my dear Ara bey we are all of the same shit {ayni bokun soyu}. Armenian. Turkoman, Ottoman etc...

I will gladly endorse your comments full of wisdom and reality on several observations, and wish to add a few comments on “Enemies of the People”. You must be definitely aware that in old times the “humpabets” raped nicest mostly Armenian girls, ate and drank for free and would kill those who would not pay the ransom. So, the example you have given in Egypt with Massikian, is known to be fully true and valid and the bull’s eye of today’s genocide fanfare.

Regarding your paragraph on Parallel Universe I fully endorse and share your sentiments. For many in the Armenian diaspora, I may fully qualify to be named an ardent denialist Turk. This however does not affect my status of a decent human believing in the truth of what not he has been told, but what he read extensively Sorry, I cannot be a crook or a liar in person, and I don’t give a damn what are idiots think or speak of me, just to cover their own idiocy or fear of discovering the truth, that there was no Adam and Eve,, no Noah Ark, no Holy Spirit or promised Paradise and Hell .Yet each person is free to believe for himself in what comforts him.. ,

Regarding your comments about United States agreeing on Genocide {which will be no surprise to me, because the paid politicians need the Armenian votes and donations – even if it does not serve the interest of USA in the long run} thanks to the laziness and indifference of the Turkish governments in the past 40 years despite so many killings leaving the World free to be convinced of the reality of this huge distortion, such a success may add to the pockets of the forerunners, but not much for the needy Armenians.

Bertrand Russell says” “The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence that it is not utterly absurd, indeed, in view of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible”

Dear Ara Bey, I cannot be taught to hate or kill or cheat on any human or even animal. Nations may need ideologies to keep idiots together to be goaded easily. Too bad that fools like us {as they think we are} are to few but morally strong enough to defend our sincere thoughts until such time that the opposite is proven.

I change Ataturk’s words, :”peace at home peace in the world” ,.to LOVE AT HOME, LOVE IN THE WORLD !

With your permission Ara, I am sharing this letter with some friends of mine, whom I think should read your sincere comments and my counter opinion. (Turkish proverb: Animals smell, humans talk, to understand each other).

I may be commenting on your other articles when I find time to read.

All the best and thanks for your teachings… Hope did not offend you by friendly remarks

Sukru S. Aya
14 Aug 2007


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