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on our identity

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#1 ara baliozian

ara baliozian


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Posted 09 March 2001 - 08:02 AM

Whether we like to admit it or not, we are, very much like the British, the Americans, and the Turks, a multicultural nation. Most of our nakharars, princes, kings, and warlords were of foreign extraction. Even some of our most ardent nationalist intellectual leaders (from Abovian to Zarian) married odars. The overwhelming majority of my friends (among them editors, poets, writers, educators) are either products of mixed marriages or married to odars. Some of our ablest men (from the Byzantine emperor Basil I to Anastas Mikoyan) served not Armenian but odar interests and powers, sometimes at the expense of their own homeland, by adopting or implementing anti-Armenian policies. Most of the beneficiaries of Gulbenkianís wealth are odars.
The reason why our outlook is nationalist to the point of being racist today is that in the 19th century our nationalist leaders (some of whom were also products of mixed marriages) used, even exploited, nationalist sentiment to unite us against the Turks (most of whom were half-Armenian) with disastrous results. And to justify or cover up their blunder, they continue to recycle nationalist propaganda, hatred for the Turks, and contempt for the West.
It is this more than anything else that has led most historians and political scientists to assert that nationalism is not an ideology but an aberration.

#2 MJ



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Posted 04 April 2001 - 03:41 PM

One reason I question our identity is that whenever I deal with some Armenians,
especially those who consider themselves as representative types
(bosses, bishops, benefactors and their assorted flunkies, hangers-on, partisans, panchoonies, fund-raisers, chauvinists, fanatics) I have this distinct impression that
I share nothing in common with them;
or perhaps (which is worse) I wish to share nothing,
because the idea of sharing something, anything, even if it is as tenuous a thing as common homeland a thousand miles away a thousand years ago, is so repellent to me that I am more than willing to question and doubt my own identity; and I have every reason to suspect, the overwhelming majority of Armenians who assimilate do so because they feel as I do:
in other words, they place a safe distance between themselves and their fellow countrymen
because they find their company unbearable.
To those who at this point are tempted to spit out the words "Good riddance!"
may I suggest that until and unless we change our ways and become more tolerant and less dogmatic, authoritarian, money-oriented, greedy and corrupt,
you and your kind may well end up being solitary voices in an odar wilderness.
I further suggest, our fixation on the Genocide cannot be genuine and our tears must therefore be of the crocodile variety if we lament our "garmir chart" (red massacre) even as we promote "jermag chart" (white massacre or assimilation) by alienating our fellow Armenians.
Because, if you think about it, in what way are we different from the Turks
if we replace genocide by fire and sword with genocide by intolerance, corruption, incompetence, and sometimes even hatred - all in the name of patriotism, of course!

ara baliozian

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