Wednesday, August 31, 2011

as i see it

Sunday, August 28, 2011
We all try to do the best for ourselves
and more often than not
our best turns out to have been our worst.
To brag is wrong except when a nation does it –
and they do it all the time.
We don’t think unless we are cornered into thinking.
What we do instead is grab the most convenient
or flattering explanation
and hang on to it to the bitter end.
The disappointments of success
are as deep as the disappointments of failure.
The very same individuals who are against free speech
control our educational system, and with it,
our perception of reality.
In politics if you win you brag,
if you lose you lie.
To combat the dread of death
we pretend to live.
It is in the blood (or collective unconscious) of the strong
to divide and rule the weak,
and it is in the blood of the weak to be divided.
To say free speech is our “greatest enemy” (Zarian)
is to imply we are our own greatest threat
to our security and development as a nation.
In that sense, the enemy is indeed us.
Plutarch: “But when the body called the Five Thousand –
which in fact were only Four Hundred…”
Monday, August 29, 2011
There is a type of Latin-American writer,
I read today, who is convinced
“literature can fend off injustice and ugliness
and redeem the world.”
Once upon a time we too had such writers.
But do we have them today?
If you know of one, can you name him or her?
I am constantly urged not to speak about Armenians
as I do on open forums, in the same way that
Turkish writers are urged, nay threatened,
not to speak of Turkish crimes against humanity.
Propagandists on both sides are not interested in facts,
only in figments of their own imagination.
How easily are love and lust confused? --
also arrogance and self-esteem.
Search for the worst in the best
and don’t be surprised if you find it.
Man is prone to superstition
because he cannot answer the most important questions
and his need for answers exceeds
his love of truth or his understanding of reality.
We all love to be loved and hate to consider the possibility
that we may not deserve it.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Knut Hamsun on Hitler’s Germany:
“It’s mass-hypnosis that does it…
Mass hypnosis is an awful thing,
just look at theaters and circuses.”
They are hypnotized into thinking
Turks are too civilized to have committed atrocities
and we are hypnotized into thinking
all Turks are bloodthirsty barbarians.
One could say that the aim of all propaganda
is mass hypnosis.
Or, after the subject has been hypnotized,
you can convince him of anything.
To the Turks, Kemal is a messianic figure
who raised the nation from the rotten corpse of the Empire.
If only we too had a Kemal of our own.
On second thought, we may be better off without one.
One way to explain an alienated Armenian is to say that
he is an Armenian who refuses to be hypnotized.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
The older I grow,
the heavier the burden of memories.
Which is why I don’t consider Alzheimer’s
an undesirable condition.
Perseverance is a good thing
but not when it comes to digging your own grave.
I don’t write to save the nation.
I can’t even save myself from boredom.
I drink to drown the Turk in me,
but the bugger is a swimmer with Olympic ambitions.
Political leaders of the West were almost unanimous
in their desire to befriend Gadhafi.
Which may suggest the world is ruled by men
whose IQ is lower than that of a backward African mob.
The Buddha is right: no one can save another – especially one
who has made up his mind to go to hell.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

memo to turks

Thursday, August 25, 2011
The ideal dupe is he
who doesn’t believe he is one.
The true believer is he
who believes anyone who doesn’t share his belief system
is the dupe of a heresy.
Mankind is divided between deceivers and their dupes.
As for the silent majority:
they might as well be an absent factor.
If we judge an idea by its history,
we shall have no choice but to assert
belief systems are the source of all evil.
“Since it was a religious war,
there were no survivors.”
If you think religious wars
are a thing of the past, think again.
Think again!
A useless, not to say, an absurd suggestion
to a believer who by believing
he declares his inability to think for himself
and must therefore rely on someone else’s thinking – no,
not thinking but believing,
which can also be defined as “not thinking.”
And if you believe the age of prophets,
like the age of religious wars
belongs to the irrevocable past,
I for one will not be surprised to learn that
in the eyes of some historians
the 20th century is already known
as the century of false prophets –
Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao, Kemal….
“Believe those who are seeking the truth.
Doubt those who find it.”
Even better:
Believe only those who are engaged in rejecting lies.
Friday, August 26, 2011
We are told
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
We are told
to judge a tree by its fruit,
a man by his actions,
and an idea by its history.
What about religion?
If religion is such a good thing
why has it killed and continues to kill so many people?
Who will believe you if you say
“my religion is the only true one;
all others are heresies?
Not even your co-religionists.
Consider the case of Catholics and Protestants,
Shias and Sunnis, and generally speaking,
all orthodoxies and heresies.
But contradictions don’t end there.
In the Old Testament we are told
“Thou shalt not kill.”
But elsewhere God commands His Chosen People
to slaughter not only their enemies
but also their cattle.
Are we to believe even God contradicts Himself?
Or is it only when He uses words?
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Do you really think
you can run away from justice, like Talaat?
Surely you can’t expect us to believe
that your sources are more authentic
than Pamuk’s, Akcam’s, and countless other
western historians among them Turcophiles like
Arnold J. Toynbee and Bernard Lewis.
Last but not least,
you can’t be serious when you dare to suggest
you know better than Kemal
who at no time denied the reality of large-scale atrocities
and the only reason he didn’t use the word “genocide”
is that it had not yet been coined.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Sunday, August 21, 2011
More often than not
ignorance is not a result of not knowing
but of not wanting to know.
To be a dupe means to place
patriotism and propaganda
above honesty and objectivity.
My Armenian and Turkish critics
sound remarkably alike – no doubt
as a result of 600 years of cohabitation
compounded by fear of reality.
Dupes come in bunches.
Where there is one there will be another.
They need each other’s warmth
like swine in a cold barn.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Because I support the idea
of a united and strong Armenia,
I engage in treason?
And because my critics are for
a divided, weak, demoralized Armenia,
they are patriots?
But the question, the real question,
which nobody cares to ask is:
We survived the Turk,
will we survive our patriots?
What if, when it comes to extermination,
our leaders are better at it than
the Sultan, Talaat, and Stalin combined?
What if there is more truth in what we hate
than in what we pretend to love?
What if we serve the Devil
even when we speak and act in the name of God?
Because I write in open forums
where even Turks can read me,
my readers take notice of what I say.
Otherwise they would have ignored me.
They would have pretended I don’t exist.
They would have saved their spittle
for their real enemies – the opposition.
For more on this subject, see
By Nassir Ghaemi. 340 pages. The Penguin Press. $27.95.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
A hundred years ago
Armenians had to be forcibly driven out from Turkey;
they are now exiting from Armenia on their own.
I should like to see a comparative study
of Armenian assimilation rates
in the Ottoman Empire and the United States of America.
How many Armenian-Americans can read and write
in Armenian today?
After two or at most three generations in America
assimilation sets in.
But even after six hundred years
in the Ottoman Empire – that is roughly
twenty-four generations – we had a vibrant Armenian literature
in Istanbul.
Name a single Armenian-American writer today if you can.
We like to blame Talaat and Stalin
for the slaughter of two generations of our major writers,
but we forget that these writers
were betrayed by Armenians.
The only authentic Armenians today
are the skeletons of our 5th-century ancestors
and even the best of them
were odars with mixed blood.
Our nationalists may portray themselves as superpatriots
but their true intent is extermination – if, that is,
we judge them by their actions
rather than by their verbally stated intentions.
When words and actions don’t match
you may safely discard words as lies – unless of course
you happen to be a certified dupe.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
In theory, patriotism, even nationalism,
stands for freedom from imperial oppression,
beginning with free speech.
In practice, try to disagree with one of our superpatriots
and see what happens.
There is a hangman in all our nationalists.
Only readers who cling to their Ottomanism and Sovietism
confuse my anti-Ottomanism and anti-Sovietism
with anti-Armenianism.
The God of the Old Testament
is a jungle chieftain who thinks men
are such ignorant savages that
they have to be told murder is a no-no.
The secret ambition of all leaders
is to be almighty and infallible, like God.
This is as true of the Pope as it is of Stalin.
Who are our leaders?
In the Diaspora they are faceless Levantine wheeler-dealers
at the mercy of social, political, cultural, and economic forces
beyond their control – in short:
they are in over their heads.
In the Homeland they are dehumanized bureaucrats
accountable only to the Kremlin.
With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Thursday, August 18, 2011
Only Armenian writers writing in Armenian
are eager to inform me that I don’t qualify
as an Armenian writer because I write in English,
as if being an Armenian writer
were an honor and a privilege
as opposed to being a curse and sometimes even
a death sentence.
About the Genocide and its Recognition:
either Turks are mean as well as obstinate (probably both)
or we are incompetent and stupid (ditto).
And speaking of Genocide Recognition:
where would this issue – so dear to all our hearts – be
without the contribution of Armenian writers
writing in odar languages?
Our patriotism teaches us to love our homeland
and to hate our fellow men – including Armenians.
As for criticizing Armenians in open forums
accessible to our enemies:
even when completely blind,
our enemies acquire 20/20 vision
when it comes to identifying our weaknesses and failings.
That’s the way of the world and the jungle.
I have every reason to believe
Turks know more about us
than we know ourselves.
I doubt if I have ever said anything
they didn’t already know.
Friday, August 19, 2011
They believe to have the rare gift
of judging someone they don’t know
and criticizing a text they haven’t read.
Not only do they believe God to be an Armenian,
they also believe His patience is without end.
They have a tendency to believe the absurd
and to reject the evidence of their own eyes.
They may not be happier than us
But for some incomprehensible reason
they appear to be on better terms with themselves.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Finally an objective assessment of Kemal
by a Turkish biographer.
After discussing the fallacies Kemal espoused
(scientism, materialism, nationalism, among others),
we are told, he may have been the right man
at the right time and place
but he was not a great man.
“The key to Ataturk’s success lay not
in the originality of his ideas
but in the singularity of the opportunity he seized.”
See M. Sukru Hanioglu, ATATURK (Princeton, $27.95).
The trouble with most academics is that
they fall hopelessly in love with their thesis.
The most dangerous dupe is the propagandist
who believes in his own propaganda.
A brainwashed Turk and a brainwashed Armenian
might as well be twins.
They belong to no known nation
except the nation of the brainwashed.
They are the cattle of mankind.
We judge people not by how good they are
but how much they love or flatter us.
To the rest we are indifferent.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Thursday, August 11, 2011
They say “We don’t need critics,”
because they hate to be exposed as incompetent fools.
They say “We need solutions,”
thus admitting so far they have failed to come up with any.
Imagine an economist saying to a street vendor:
“I need a new fiscal policy.”
“We don’t need critics!”
Translation: Shut-up!
They say they don’t need critics
because they consider themselves beyond criticism.
They say they need solutions
as if all of our literature dealt
with the eternal snows of Mt. Ararat,
nightingales serenading the moon,
and the mutual torments of love.
You need solutions?
Read Khorenatsi, Raffi, Baronian,
Odian, Zarian, Massikian…
and if you don’t like Armenian writers,
read Greek, Russian, French, English, and American writers,
because in the end they all speak
against ignorance, intolerance, oppression,
incompetence, dishonesty, and doubletalk.
“We need solutions!”
I have never heard a speechifier deliver that line in public.
What I have heard again and again and ad nauseam is
“We need your moral and financial support!” –
an obvious variation of the Panchoonie punch line
“Mi kich pogh oughargetsek.”
Friday, August 12, 2011
Just because Turks disagree with us
it doesn’t necessarily follow that everyone who disagrees with us
is a Turk or a Turcophile.
If outrage were an argument
we all would be like David Anhaght – invincible.
I remember to have read somewhere that
the criminal rate among politicians is much higher
than among ordinary citizens.
If international law were tougher,
most politicians would be in jail.
Egocentrism: the misconception that
what we say matters.
Turcocentrism: the fallacy that Turks continue to be
in charge of our destiny as a nation.
No matter how hard I try
I cannot trust a man who is incapable of speaking
against his own interests.
Assad in Syria, Gadhafi in Libya:
the more incompetent and corrupt a leader,
the harder he will cling to power.
Closer to home: how many of our own political leaders
have resigned because they were not equal to the task?
Saturday, August 13, 2011
There is a familiar type of loud-mouth
and holier-than-thou superpatriot
whose role models are our revolutionaries
in the Ottoman Empire
who promised heaven and earth
and delivered hell.
That’s the way it is with political leaders,
especially revolutionary political leaders:
the more they promise,
the less they deliver,
and the chances are,
what they deliver is not fit for human consumption.
Rhetoric is a euphemism for verbiage
and verbiage is another word for verbal garbage.
If rhetoric were enough,
we could be the mightiest empire in the history of mankind.
We have this in common with the Jews:
history has not been on our side.
Their victory over the Palestinians
and ours over the Azeris have been moral catastrophes.
The Jews have been accused of behaving like Nazis,
and we have been accused of behaving like Turks.
We should teach our children to say:
“I disagree with what you say,
but I will neither raise my voice
nor go down into the gutter to prove you wrong.”

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Sunday, August 07, 2011
On the day brainwashed dupes begin to agree with me
I will have no choice but to consider a career move
by applying for a job in the sanitation department
-- which may not be much of a move
consisting as it does in collecting trash
as opposed to exposing it.
The right word at the right time and place
can make a difference.
I have no doubt about that.
If so far I have made no difference
it may be because I have not yet found the right word;
or, if I have found it,
I have not delivered it at the right time and place.
This is why I intend to keep buggering on
until I hit paydirt.
In the meantime I console myself by saying
if what I say annoys the hell out of some readers,
I must be doing something right.
“What Africa needs,” I read today in a commentary,
“is precisely such transmutations of tribal loyalties
to the larger loyalties of nationhood.”
Which simply means, we have no reason to believe
we are ahead of Somalis, Ugandans, and Zulus?
The Tea Party in America reminds me of our partisans
willing to drive the nation to bankruptcy
rather than to compromise for the sake of consensus.
Compromise and consensus have become dirty words with us
because God and all those who speak in His name
have no use for compromise.
Our partisans confuse ideology with theology…
“and because it was a religious war,
there were no survivors.”
Monday, August 08, 2011
When it comes to politics and history,
the average man
(this is especially true of Armenians and Turks)
tends to adopt a dogmatic stance.
His views become an integral part of a belief system
and as everyone knows,
the problem with belief systems
and those who hold them is that
they are never wrong –
very much like the Pope of Rome
(in the eyes of Catholics),
Kemal (in the eyes of Kemalists),
Hitler (in the eyes of Nazis),
Stalin (in the eyes of Stalinists),
Mussolini (in the eyes of Italian fascists),
Mao (in the eyes of Maoists),
and last but not least,
Marx (in the eyes of Marxists –
though Marx himself is quoted as having said,
“I am not a Marxist”).
I was brought up as a Catholic,
and as a Catholic it never even occurred to me
to question the Pope’s infallibility.
But I changed my mind
the moment I began thinking for myself --
as opposed to saying “Yes, sir!”
to whatever I was told
by my superiors, whom I now consider
the scum of the earth).
The problem with believers is that
they suffer from one of the most dangerous
psychological aberrations known to man,
namely, infantilism.
They hate to grow up.
They hate anyone who dares to contradict them.
Above all they hate to think for themselves,
which means, they hate to use that which happens to be
their most valuable possession: their brain.
Believing in gods
(there have been ten thousand of them, we are told)
is bad enough.
Believing in men is infinitely worse.
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
What a man believes is his own business.
It becomes our business
only when his belief system
promotes intolerance,
legitimizes prejudice,
and issues licenses to kill.
A belief system that relies on charlatans to exploit dupes
might as well be a criminal conspiracy.
I am not spinning theories and scenarios
based on abstractions.
I am talking about facts and historical reality –
what happened to our parents in the Ottoman Empire,
to our brothers in the Soviet Union;
and what’s happening today
in the Middle East and Africa.
“Yes, sir!” may be said to be
the two most dangerous words known to man.
If it weren’t for these two monosyllables,
we would have no organized religions and armies,
that is to say, wars and massacres.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
We like to believe we are eminently adaptable survivors.
There is some truth in that but also a contradiction.
We are so adaptable in fact that in France
we could easily pass for Frenchmen,
in Russia for Russians,
in Greece for Greeks,
in Italy for Italians,
in Israel for Jews, and so on…and
I have even met Armenians
who could easily identify themselves as Mongols in Mongolia
and get away with it.
As for being survivors:
let us not forget that a great many of us,
especially the best and the brightest,
did not survive – compliments of Talaat, Stalin,
and our Levantine philistines in the Diaspora.
And speaking of Levantines:
one of the worst things that happened to us
in the New World is allowing Levantines
to be in charge of our institutions
on the grounds that they are more authentic
and less assimilated Armenians than the average native.
These gentlemen (if you will forgive the overstatement)
have done more harm to the integrity of our communities
than all “social, political, and economic factors
beyond our control” combined.
We like to believe we are smart.
Yes, some of us may well be smart,
but only in the marketplace.
Our political I.Q. or the way we conduct our affairs
might as well be negative.
We are as tribal as the most backward
African dysfunctional nation.
Put two Armenians on a desert island
and they will build three churches – the third
being the one they don’t go to.
What will save us?
What can save us?
As for as I can see, only prayer –
and I speak as an atheist.
“Our Father who art in Heaven…”

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Thursday, August 04, 2011
The Chinese said to their poor, “Get rich,”
and they got rich.
The Americans said to their rich, “Get richer,”
and they bankrupted the global economy.
You cannot travel on the wrong path
and hope to reach your destination.
I know my critics are wrong
when they say what I used to think thirty years ago.
As for critics who speak in the name of God and Country,
they are never right – or they are wrong 99% of the time.
Some of the most dangerous criminals
in the history of mankind were political leaders
who were thought of as infallible – or 99% right.
Bishops, imams, rabbis:
witch doctors with a college education.
Friday, August 05, 2011
Both Turks and Armenians share in common
an aversion to reality.
Turks believe all talk of genocide is fiction.
When repeatedly warned of the coming catastrophe,
Armenians reacted with disbelief.
“Zohrab effendi is exaggerating,”
was a typical reaction.
Even after the cold-blooded murder
of our ablest men in Soviet Armenia,
our “chic Bolsheviks” in the Diaspora
went on repeating the slogan
“Russians are our big brothers.”
Closer to home,
when I speak of our reality objectively today,
I am told to “Shut the f*** up!”
Saturday, August 06, 2011
My critics are my best source of inspiration.
They are my bread and butter.
Once upon a time we were a progressive nation.
But we lost that under the Sultans and the Soviets.
To say all problems can be solved except ours
might as well be a suicide note.
Charlatans will prosper as long as there are dupes;
and honest men will be persecuted
as long as there are charlatans.
To be smart and to be a dupe
are mutually exclusive concept.
To divide and rule has been the foreign policy
of all imperial powers.
As long as we remain divided
we implement the foreign policy of our enemies.
Our dividers are as unaware of their genocidal intent
as Turkish denialists.
When I was young I sought the approval of my superiors
until I realized they were the scum of the earth.
I cannot change the past;
neither can I resurrect the dead.
No one can.
To expose present blunders
is to prevent future catastrophes.
That’s why I prefer to write about our reality today
as opposed to past deeds that cannot be undone.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Sunday, July 31, 2011
As the number of blunders goes up,
so do assertions of infallibility.
The greatest mistake is to think we are right
and those who disagree with us wrong.
Prove an infallible man wrong
and make an enemy for life.
Infallible men don’t learn
because they are in the business of teaching.
On the Genocide issue
Americans see Turks as reflections of themselves
and Armenians as white niggers.
Our political and religious leaders
praise solidarity with words
and bury it with actions.
Nothing can be transparently more dishonest
than to expose the crimes of our enemies
and to cover up our own blunders.
One of the most important functions
of all educational systems is to identify the enemy.
What holds a nation together
is the threatening presence of the enemy.
If the enemy dies,
so does the glue that holds the nation together.
The unspoken aim of all organized religions and ideologies
is to legitimize double-talk:
to say one thing and do the opposite.
I don’t write for the enjoyment of the reader.
Neither do I write to flatter.
I write to point out the fact that
no one is infallible,
we all make mistakes,
and the beginning of all wisdom is acknowledging them.
Monday, August 01, 2011
Readers who know nothing about me
assume just because I criticize Turks
I must be pro-Armenian; or, again,
just because I criticize Armenians
I must be pro-Turkish.
These readers appear to live
in a one-dimensional either/or universe
in which the dominant colors are black and white.
It never even occurs to them that
criticism may be motivated
more by an objective assessment of facts
and less by means of nationalist bias.
If you tell me you know and understand
all you need to know and understand,
you give me no choice but to conclude that
your needs must be extremely narrow.
If you tell me reality is an open book to you,
you will corner me into saying
that may be because you read nothing but comic books.
There are more shadows than light in life,
and more shades of gray than black and white.
Whenever a historian asserts
he has figured out the past and how it works,
he is immediately attacked by other historians
as well as philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists,
and theologians who inform him in no uncertain terms
that his facts are all wrong,
his assumptions unjustified,
and his conclusions misguided.
For more on this subject, see Arnold J. Toynbee’s RECONSIDERATIONS,
volume xii of his STUDY OF HISTORY.
See also the critical fire aimed at Oswald Spengler
by, among others, Toynbee himself in the opus cited above.
To my uninformed readers, may I add that
Spengler and Toynbee are two of the greatest historians
of the past century.
May I also add that public opinion is shaped
less by great historians and more
by politicians, propagandists, and ghazetajis
who operate on the assumption that
a nation’s own version of its past is the only true one.
Tuesday, August 02, 2011
Some Turks appear to be obsessed
with what they did to Armenians during World War I
as surely as some Armenians are.
They are Armenocentric to the same degree
that some Armenians are Turcocentric.
I have a Turkish friend
(he may no longer consider me a friend, but I do)
who has written a big book –
the biggest I know on the subject – in which
he attempts to prove that Armenians have
not only invented a genocide and
believed in it for almost a century
but they have also somehow succeeded in convincing
an important fraction of the civilized world,
including one of the greatest historians of all time
and several Nobel-Prize winners
(among them a Turkish one).
This friend of mine believes Talaat
was the best friend Armenians had;
and Kemal was a great statesman
who was never wrong (in his own words:
“he was right 99% of the time”).
By contrast, I was brought up to believe
Talaat was to Armenians what Hitler was to Jews.
All wrong! my Turkish friend is eager to inform me.
The only reason Talaat did what he did
is that Armenians returned his friendship
by trying to assassinate him.
But since (I assume) he could not arrest the perpetrators,
he took it out on defenseless civilians.
If attempted assassination were sufficient ground for genocide,
we would have genocides as frequently as soups du jour.
As for Kemal being a universally admired statesman
about whom even western historians have written
voluminous biographies:
my good friend may not be aware of the fact that
western historians have also written voluminous biographies
of Hitler and Stalin.
To my Turkish friends I say,
if I continue to call you a friend it’s because
(one) I don’t consider disagreement sufficient ground for divorce;
(two) I believe with Gandhi that no man is beyond redemption; and
(three) convictions, even belief systems,
are subject to error and change.
So that I for one will not be surprised in the least
if we become friends once more.
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
Them and us is a misleading classification
because there is a great deal of us in them
and vice versa.
To say that a question is unanswerable
is also an answer.
To convert to a religion or ideology
is to legitimize one’s status as a dupe.
The rich defend their privileges
with the same intensity as the starving search for food.
The difference between being infallible and 99% right
is about the same as the difference
between charity and a loan for 99 years.