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Old 21.07.2007, 17:54   #1
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Default july/22

Thursday, July 19, 2007
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THEM AND US
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Puzant Granian: “There is a Turk in all of us.”
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Whenever I read one of my critics, especially those who belong to the Ottoman school of criticism, I am reminded of Zarian’s dictum: “An Armenian’s tongue can be sharper than a Turk’s yataghan.”
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It seems to me we worry too much about Turks and not enough about the Turk within us.
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Since we can’t engage in real massacres, we engage in verbal ones.
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I once received an e-mail that said: “I am proud to be an Armenian!” Signed “Anonymous.”
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Someday if the Turks forget what it means to be a Turk, I have every reason to suspect the consultant they will hire will be an Armenian.
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Friday, July 20, 2007
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HEROES AND REVOLUTIONARIES
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Good Turks who risked their own lives to save Armenians during the Genocide: we have all heard about them. Revolutionaries who saved Armenian lives: that’s different. I have heard of revolutionaries who published voluminous memoirs much admired by fellow revolutionaries and hamagirs (fellow travelers). I am also personally acquainted with a good number of partisans who excel in delivering fiery speeches and publishing even more fiery commentaries and editorials. All that on the positive sides. On the negative side: I have heard of revolutionaries who killed (or is it executed?) or attempted to kill or threatened to kill fellow Armenians on the grounds that they were not patriotic enough – according to standards of patriotism established by them. Were they always right on grounds of infallibility or fair on grounds that fairness is their middle name? (Imagine if you can a justice system based on standards and criteria established by the prosecution without benefit of judge and jury). I also remember to have read somewhere in Gourgen Mahari’s memoirs what General Antranik said about them (revolutionaries) – something to the effect that they deserve not medals but the hangman’s rope.
Who are our revolutionaries and what has been their role in our history? Their partisans will say one thing, their detractors another. If you ask me, I will say I am better at asking questions than at answering them because, unlike some of my fellow Armenians, I don’t know everything. My only tentative answer is that I trust neither partisans nor their detractors because they both suffer from an advanced case of selective memory. They may think or believe they speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but they speak only a fraction of it, which is how propaganda is defined: a fraction of the truth.
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Saturday, July 21, 2007
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ON OUR COLLECTIVE NEUROSIS
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Have we been so severely traumatized that we cannot see the obvious? Are we so arrogant as to think there is absolutely nothing wrong with us? We have been traumatized, no doubt about that. And I don’t just mean by massacres, deportations, exile, and slum life in alien countries, but above all by six centuries of subservience. To pretend there is nothing wrong with us and that we have emerged from the long nightmare without sustaining an injury to our psyche is to live in a realm of illusions that is totally divorced from reality.
Consider the manner in which we conduct controversies as a case in point. In a civilized context the aim of a controversy is not verbal massacre but compromise and consensus. And the aim of writing is not to spew venom and hatred (no matter how justified) but to share understanding. Hatred, like greed, selfishness, and baseless assumptions of moral superiority are not things that need to be promoted, encouraged, justified, and legitimized. On the contrary! Even more to the point, the aim of writing is not to blame our problems on others but to expose our own failings and contradictions. Finally, the function of a writer is to be an honest witness and not a cover-up artist.
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