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Ara Baliozian

The daughter of a survivor called me the other day from a nearby Canadian city. "Until the very day she died," she said at one point, "my mother was convinced she was surrounded by Turks. All her life she felt threatened by them. She was afraid to go out." William Faulkner once said: "The past is never dead. Its not even past." We may think the dark days of Ottoman oppression are over, but they are not. We may think we have survived, but we have not. Part of us lies buried in the sands of the Syrian desert. Perhaps to be Armenian means to be perennially exposed and vulnerable to evil. Hence, the ease with which we feel threatened when contradicted or criticized. Hence too, the ferocity of our feuds. "Hell is other people," Sartre tells us. To an Armenian, every other Armenian might as well be a potential Turk in disguise. Others may disagree, engage in dialogue, compromise, and reach a consensus. With us, a minor misunderstanding may escalate to verbal massacre. This is one of our problems. How to solve it? There is no solution except an enhanced awareness of the problem and its absurdity.

A note on genocide recognition

I grew up among survivors in Greece. None of them ever mentioned turkish recognition of the genocide. They knew instinctively that a nation that can commit massacres, can also lie to fellow imperialist nations that are themselves guilty of massacres. This whole concept of turkish recognition is a clumsy way to avoid recognizing our own failures, contradictions, complexes, and phobias. And what is even more objectionable to me as an armenian: it places us once more in the position of victims,,,victims of turks, of all people! We are asked to believe that we are once more dependent on turkish goodwill. Result: even as we depopulate Yerevan, we demand the return of Kars and Ardahan!


There is a familiar type of Armenian from the Middle East who loathes everything about America but wouldnt live anywhere else. There is also a type of chauvinist who has nothing but praise for our culture, identity, traditions, literature, art, language, music, cuisine, and everything else that is Armenian, but wild horses couldnt drag him to the Homeland. How to explain this paradox? In my view, the average Armenian has been exposed to so much double-talk in his formative years that he finds nothing questionable in engaging in it himself. ("If a bishop can get away with it, why not me?") Which is why, every Armenian is for freedom of speech, but only for himself. Which is also why, most patriotic Armenians use their patriotism as a license to hate a fraction of their fellow Armenians. These Armenians define patriotism as "love of ones country," and by "country" they dont mean the people, but the real estate: mountains, rivers, lakes, valleys, forest - but only from a safe distance and from the comfort of their suburban homes in the good old U.S. of A.

Two friends are having a drink in a bar. One of them, lets call him Jack S. Avanakian, says to the other: "The earth is flat."

"Its not!" the other replies. "I tell you its flat like a pancake!" "Its round like your stupid head. Havent you seen photos taken from outer space?" "All fakes." So they go on arguing for a while until Jack falls silent and the other goes home thinking he has been successful in convincing his friend that the earth is round. Next day, same time, same place, when the two friends meet again, Jack S. Avanakian says: "I thought it over and I still think the earth is flat." Another heated exchange follows until Jack runs out of arguments and again falls silent. On the third day when they meet again and Jack says "The earth is flat!" the other gives up in disgust and says: "Have it your own way." And forever after Jack thinks he knows more about the cosmos than his friend. Something very similar happens when you argue with an Armenian chauvinist or partisan who has made up his mind that his party is never wrong because his boss happens to be more Catholic than the Pope.

Moral I: To be Armenian and to be reasonable are incompatible concepts.

Moral II: An Armenian hates to lose an argument because he sees it as an extension of his manhood.

Moral III: When an Armenians says, "I am right," or "You are wrong," what he really means is: I may be wrong and you may be right but since my heart is in the right place and the Good Lord is on my side, it follows I am ahead of you even if I happen to be dead wrong.

Moral IV: To be open minded, to understand, and to be receptive to new ideas are quintessentially un-Armenian concepts.



I dont expect agreement from our self-appointed commissars of culture, only tolerance: the kind of tolerance that is accorded to all citizens in a civilized society. As for those who accuse me of corrupting the young and misleading the uninformed: if our bosses and bishops have been successful in silencing some of our ablest intellectuals (from Abovian to Zarian), they can have minor scribblers like me for breakfast any time they feel like it; and if so far they have failed to silence me, it may be because they have not yet discovered a way to control the internet. In the meantime, they can always rely on their hirelings and dupes to tear everything I write to shreds and to question my patriotism and sanity.

A Note On Death Threats


Someone here said or implied that I exaggerate the significance or importance of death threats on the internet; if I do, it may be because most readers tend to dismiss them as empty verbiage, whereas I think they are criminal acts that should not be allowed by the moderator, and when allowed, they should be unanimously disapproved; another reason I take such threats seriously is that the overwhelming majority of armenian writers in the 20th century (surely the most important) were murdered, and not always by odars; some were murdered by turks, others by russians, but all of them were betrayed by armenians; according to my sources the architect of the Stalinist purges in yerevan was an armenian; so were the executioners; it is to be noted that sometimes the odar killers showed more compassion than armenians; the story of Raffi and the Kurdish assassin is a case in point: when an armenian merchant hired a kurdish bandit to assassinated Raffi, the kurd refused to carry out his assignment when he discovered Raffi to be nothing but a harmless scribbler who spent most of his time in his study writing; the kurd went a step further and warned Raffi against his armenian enemy; it was probably this episode that led Raffi to remark: "armenian merchants are the most corrupt element among us: they are men without a country; profit is their only homeland"


ٵݻ` ɻ Ƿ۳, س۳