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Old 28.07.2007, 17:40   #1
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Thursday, July 26, 2007
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KILLERS
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Hitler: “How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don’t think.”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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?
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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 superpower 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.
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Friday, July 27, 2007
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PARALLEL UNIVERSES
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Saturday, July 28, 2007
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ONCE MORE WITH FEELING
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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.
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Old 28.07.2007, 19:19   #2
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sad but true.
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Old 01.08.2007, 18:13   #3
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Sunday, July 29, 2007
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A PROBLEM AND ITS SOLUTION
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.”
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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.”
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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.”
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Monday, July 30, 2007
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ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE
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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 educational 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.
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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!
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Barry Sonnenfeld: “Some people see the glass half empty. Some see it half-full. I see half a glass of poison.”
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Tuesday, July 31, 2007
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QUOTATIONS FROM RAFFI
(HAGOP MELIK-HAGOPIAN: 1835-1888)
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ON OUR LEADERSHIP
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“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.”
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ON FREEDOM
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"Where there is oppression there will also be cowardice, ignorance, and sloth. A man needs freedom to discover the benefits of freedom.”
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CHERCHEZ L’ARMENIEN
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“Where Armenian blood flaws, look for an Armenian hatchet.”
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ON LIES
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“Self-deception is a one-eyed monster that sees only the positive and ignores the negative.”
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ON TREASON
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“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.”
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PORTRAIT OF AN ARMENIAN
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“Mutual intolerance, divisiveness, envy, betrayal, and a thousand other vices have built permanent nests in our hearts.”
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ENEMIES
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“An Armenian’s worst enemies are not odars but Armenians.”
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MORE ON LEADERSHIP
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“Those who are responsible for our safety are themselves a gang of criminals.”
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Wednesday, August 01, 2007
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MORE ON RAFFI
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One reason I quoted Raffi yesterday is that I recognized myself in what he says. If you think you are better, obviously Raffi’s observations do not apply to you. But I would invite you to consider the remote possibility that you may only think or believe you are better because, in Raffi’s words, you have a highly developed sense of self-deception; or as Sartre says somewhere speaking of belief systems: “We may believe that we believe, but we don’t believe.” People don’t judge us by what we say we believe, especially if we say or imply we are better than they. On the contrary. People tend to be suspicious of self-satisfied holier-than-thou phonies.
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Another reason I quoted Raffi is that I wanted to point out the fact that my ideas are not mine. They are to be found in our writers; the rest belong to world literature. I have consistently denied being an original writer. It has been said that there are only a limited number of ideas and all of them are to be found in the Bible or Plato. Everything else consists in deviations, expansions, and footnotes.
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Paul Valéry once asked Einstein if he carried a notebook in which to jot down ideas as they occurred to him when he was not at his desk. Einstein explained that ideas didn’t come to him frequently enough to adopt that method of annotation and that he would consider himself very lucky if an idea came to him once every twenty or thirty years.
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Finally, if Raffi’s remarks came to you as a shock, it may be because our ghazetajis and academics have conspired to hide the truth from us by harping constantly on Turks, massacres, and atrocities thus hoping to distract us from our real problems. If the Kingdom of God is within us, so are the fires of hell.
#
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Old 04.08.2007, 18:10   #4
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Thursday, August 02, 2007
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DEAD MAN WALKING
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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….’
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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.
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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?
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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.
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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?
#
Friday, August 03, 2007
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YOUNG TURKS, NAZIS,
BOLSHEVIKS, AND NEOCONS
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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.
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HITLER
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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!”
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STALIN
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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.”
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TALAAT
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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.”
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MCCARTHY
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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.”
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Saturday, August 04, 2007
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ON THE NEED TO ASSERT SUPERIORITY
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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.
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