What an amazingly revealing essay by Andy Rooney, regarding
the nationalistic priorities of Greek and Armenian-Americans. (Yes, the piece
solely refers to Greeks, but there is no difference in what is being described
between the Greeks and their Orthodox soul-mates, the Armenians.)
A response by Professor Mahmut Ozan follows, putting the
pieces together, and in perspective.
American, period. If Greeks wish to continue hating the Turks for eternity, I wish
they'd do it in Greece.
Copyright © 2001 Nando Media
Copyright © 2001 Tribune Media Services
Tribune Media Services
(May 24, 2001 06:12 p.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - They aren't listed in the World
Almanac, but there are a dozen countries whose people hate the people from a neighboring
country because of some centuries-old event in their mutual history.
On Easter, I did a television essay called "The Faces of Christ" in which I made
the mistake of saying that Turkish artists in Byzantium had done mosaic images of Christ.
Some full-time Greeks in America were furious. They sent me 600 e-mails, countless letters
and kept my phone busy accusing me of blasphemy.
I was excoriated by a Greek newspaper whose editor wrote and called a dozen times
demanding an apology. The letter writers all pointed out that there were no Turks in
Byzantium when those mosaics were made and if there had been, Turks would not have
portrayed Christ because they were Muslims.
There was no question I had made a dumb mistake, although one that none but a few hundred
Greeks absorbed in their own history, out of a "60 Minutes" audience of 10
million, would have noted. Nonetheless, the angry, orchestrated demand for a retraction
continued. I say "orchestrated" because the wording in the letters was
identical. Many referred to the name of the segment as "The Different Faces of
Christ." It was not called that, and it would have been unlikely that everyone
writing had made the same mistake. It
was made by the person who wrote the form letter they all used.
They sent letters to my boss, his boss and the boss of both of them, CBS president Leslie
Moonves in Los Angeles. That letter included a long diatribe on what happened to Byzantium
when the Turks invaded it around 1400 AD.
Moonves is a successful television programmer, but I do not think that the man who brought
us "Survivor" would spend a lot of time poring over letters about Greek history
sent by someone angry at one of his employees.
While I was sorry and embarrassed to have made the mistake, I was more annoyed than
abashed by the Greek-American reaction to it. We'd all be better off without these old
feuds that have no bearing on today's world. However, nothing will change. The Jews and
the Palestinians are not about to make peace. Common sense is not going to overrule
emotion in Northern Ireland. India and Pakistan won't be merging. Castro will never get a
dinner invitation to The White House. The Greeks and the Turks will never be best friends.
Neither can I understand why the people of any nation who choose to leave it to live in
the United States do not choose to be thoroughly American.
A wise friend came into my office when I was reading letters from angry Greeks. I showed
him a few and, without a moment's hesitation, he said, "What those people missed was
going to a New York City school," he said. "I was Jewish, but by the time I was
in the sixth grade I wasn't differentiating between my black, Hispanic, Jewish or Irish
Catholic classmates. I liked some of them and didn't like others but not because they were
black, Hispanic, Jewish or Catholic."
I'm proud of my Irish heritage, but I'm not Irish. I'm not even Irish-American. I am
American, period. If Greeks wish to continue hating the Turks for eternity, I wish they'd
do it in Greece.
The Greeks of the past made some of the greatest contributions to the culture and
civilization of our world. It is regaining this stature to which present day Greeks should
aspire. 600 angry e-mails to Andy Rooney isn't going to do it.
Neither can I understand why the people of any nation who
choose to leave it to live in the United States do not choose to be thoroughly
As a Turkish-American I am so glad that an
American-born real American told the world what I and others like me could never
write about pseudo- Greek and the counterfeit Armenian-Americans.
Every little word Andy Rooney used in this essay of his about you, the Greeks of
Diaspora, can easily be applicable also to any Armenian living in this wonderful
country of ours. Greeks and the Armenians who preceded Turks in arriving to this
country were full of hatred in their hearts, and replete with rancor and vengeance
in their blood. They came to these shores, lived here, prospered here, but never,
ever became Americans, with a capital "A". They are still living in Greece
somewhere, or in Armenia, in the Caucasus, but never in "America."
United States' government statistics show, and they can easily be
verified, that a Turkish family who arrives to this country, is
assimilated within 5years. It absorbs the indigenous customs of the land, quickly
learns English, respects its laws, pays its taxes and becomes the nucleus of an
This does not mean that this Turkish family forgets its heritage,
changes its religion, becomes totally alienated against its birth place. The Turkish
families do still remember their country of origin with a goodly amount of nostalgic
feeling, but at the same time they acquire the language of the country which
accepted them as potential Americans. They do all that's possible to earn this
sacred name "American."
I had a barber once, his name was as Greek as anything could be. I think it was
Panayotis Mardinos, or something close to it. Every time he opened his mouth and
said any word, he could bring the subject back to how much he hated the Turks, how
uncultured, and uncouth they were. What Mongolian savages they had been, having
swooped down from the Central Asiatic tundras and invaded their 'civilized' and
There were not very many barbers where I lived, so I did go to him for my haircuts.
Of course, I never mentioned I was from Turkey. Even though my mother was from
Iannina (Yanya) and my father from Morea, in the Peloponesus, they were the
remainders of the Ottoman colonizers of those lands. Panayotis thought I was Greek.
He was in his early sixties. One day I asked him how long he had been in the United
States. He said in his still broken English, as if he were proud of it: "I yam
hir for forifay yirs. That meant that when it took 5 short years for a Turk to be
assimilated and blend easily into the American background, 45 years were needed for
him to be where he was when he arrived to the USAall
those decades ago. He was still living in Greece, eating 'Greek food', conversing
only in the Greek language with most people he chose to associate with, listening
only to Greek music, and teaching his children how not to become peace-loving
Americans by inculcating in them, at a tender age, to hate all that is Turkish.
What a waste of time. These people, andI mean the senseless, bigoted detractors of
the Turks, live every minute of every hour, and every hour of every day, only to
hate Turks. What a pity that we can say the same thing about the Armenians of a
Watertown, or a Glendale, or any city or hamlet in the California ghettoes where
they congregate, spending every idle moment of their 'missionary-like monastic lives
in promoting hatred for the Turks.
These are the type of the 'poor miserable souls' who sent over 600 e-mails to Andy
Rooney of the CBS' 60 Minutes TV program, and also sent thousands of cards and
letters to President Bush trying to force him to use the Armenians' favorite word
"genocide" in the April 24 declaration of his. They would completely
ignore the truth and realities of the past.
The world knows otherwise. The Greeks and the Armenians, with their huge ethnic
lobbies in Washington, and their "friends" in the Congress and in various
State legislatures, have been keeping the uninformed American public from learning
the real truth.
Whether they be Greek or Armenian with their bottomless pocketbooks and relaxed
purse-strings, they will continue to propagate their hatred against Turks.
Nevertheless, those whom they attack mercilessly from places such as Astoria, NY, or
Pasedena, CA, have not yet learned the true meaning of American democracy. The Turks
on the other hand are fast becoming genuine future Americans by every passing year.
Mark my word, gentlemen, and I am using that word quite liberally, there will come a
day the American public as it is genuinely represented here by a true American like
Andy Rooney, will discover the un-American shenanigans, and begin to eliminate the
Greek and Armenian 'friends' names from their voting ballots.
That day is nearing fast and the truth shall be known soon, if not today or tomorrow
but within our life time.
Wait. Another Mahmut Ozan Light-Shedding Commentary (Excerpt):
WHY ARE WE THE WAY WE ARE?...
It is not an easy task to be able to answer the
question(s) displayed above. But as hard as it may seem to be, a pragmatic soul-searching
inquiry is quite appropriate and necessary in order to reach an understanding on the
subject: Why are we the way we are? What makes us different from other ethnic groups? This
is a notion to be probed into, in order to find out why among many diverse nationalities
represented in the United States we Turks are, or at least appear to be, the least
cohesive group. Most of the other minorities
living in the United States of America are able to stay loyal to their own background,
heritage, traditions, religion. They literally eat, drink, breathe, live and stay a part
of their overseas heritage, legacy and/or patrimony. When it takes several decades for a
Greek or an Armenian to slow down from manifesting their national feelings, we Turks on
the other hand lose our identity and become assimilated within a short period of time. It is a proven fact that a Turk melts away into
the fabric of the new milieu in which he or she is located.
Whereas a Greek or an Armenian spends a small fortune to accommodate and facilitate
the propagation of their 'oneness', and always seems to be willing to spend all that it
takes to continue their struggle to defeat their adversaries, we Turks have the attitude,
"Let Ahmet or Mehmet do it"
As the famous Russian writer Anton Chekov once
said, and I am paraphrasing here: "What
unites most races, and keeps them together that way is not the manifestation of love, or
friendship, nor the respect they have for one another.
It is the common hatred they feel against their enemies. I guess part of our answer
lies in this verity. It may be that this lack of feeling of hatred against his fellow-men
which engenders in us Turks, is the essence of what makes us different from the others. It
is a self-evident characteristic manifestation which is admirable on the one hand and
detrimental on the other, when we need to come together and defend our name and even honor
which are trampled upon.
I tried to give my readers a warning on this
issue, in an essay published in December 1998, when I tried to communicate with them and
ask them to find out what made us who we really were. That was four years ago. And four
years ago we stood at the same juncture. Things were not looking too bright then either. In an attempt to boost our morale, I emphasized on
why we should celebrate our ' Turkishness 'and remain proud of our past accomplishments,
our legendary respect and tolerance of the diverse religious background which was our
national foundation. I urged them to be proud of our past, yet be supportive of our
present-day causes vis-à-vis our ethnic adversaries. One of the examples I gave was about
an event which occurred during the Second World War. I told them how the Turkish merchant
marine lost scores of its own members to the German U-Boat torpedoes, trying to deliver
food and other necessary staples to their starving western neighbors, the Greeks.
Turks have always been a compassionate group of
people. Their humanistic approach in innumerable examples was visible for everyone to see.
Turks always gave a helping hand to their fellow human beings. From 1492 to 1939 their
humanitarian help extended to the unfortunate Jewish people during the Spanish
Inquisition, and again those who were escaping the NAZI atrocities is well established and
recorded in the annals of history. These admirable exploits by them could easily fill
volumes of books. It is not my desire here to go into the lengthy enumeration of good
deeds Turks had done for others. All I want
to stress out this point is that we should also be helpful to our own. We should be as
generous to ourselves as we have been for others. We should support our own movements and
our own causes. This essay does not, in any way, entertain a sense of reproach toward our
national characteristics, or idiosyncrasies. .
It is simply a probe in search for an answer to the question of: "Why are we the way we are today." Or
better yet: "How have we become this way?"
It is with great dismay and personal sadness that I am forced to write these
lines. My only inquiry is about finding out the root causes of what has happened to our
common sense. Why did we become apathetic and lackadaisical when it comes to our national
pride, and the defense of it?
The above was excerpted from Mahmut Esat Ozan's
editorial in The Turkish Forum, entitled "WHY ARE WE THE WAY WE ARE? ISN'T SAM'S BOOK A NOBLE WAY TO CLEAR OUR NAME AND
Turkey is one of the United
States' proven and most reliable allies.
The United States and other North
Atlantic Treaty Organization countries have few allies who are more steadfast.
From the Korean War to the Gulf War,
Turkey has supported the West in time of crisis while also working to put its
own house in order. On constitutional reform, human rights and accountability
of the bureaucracy and armed forces, Turkey stands head and shoulders above
virtually every other state in its region.
Yet while kowtowing to much less dependable allies, we sometimes treat the
only stable secular republic of the Muslim world as a second-class citizen.
Excerpted from "Let Turkey, Our Best Muslim Ally,
Join the Club," November 15. 2001, The Los Angeles
Times, written by Tom Grant.
Of course, it's not just the
Greeks and Armenians in America, but America in general that refuses to give Turkey
her due... but the difference is, Greeks and Armenians openly work against Turkey,
hoping for a rift between Turkey and the United States — with no concern regarding
how their efforts will affect American interests, down the line. True Americans
would deal with their petty prejudices in ways that would not prove harmful to their
country. (The same applies, of course, to ethnic-politics
playing politicians who kiss Armenian and
Greek butt, lured by their votes and dollars.)