Thursday, August 02, 2007
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?
Friday, August 03, 2007
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.”
Saturday, August 04, 2007
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.