“Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”
For as bright and innovative as the Ittahadists, Nazis and Hutus were in the murder, slaying, raping of peoples, races, religions etc, etc. They really could have turned our very own omniscient and all-knowing deity for harbingers of holocaust. In the passage above we see «Ուր էիր աստուած» himself getting a little more proactive and asking King Saul to head out in the desert and make Paul Pot look passive. This sacrosanct yarn is an example of a greater problem when it comes to nationalist topics, a complacent tendency to leave the “sacred” unquestioned.
From the depths of the red meat and waxy cholesterol infused diets of our most pious children; whose elated eyes absorbed the refracted light of apostolic, stained-glass windows come an appropriately distorted concoction. But I can assure you a diversity of opinions on the theme “White Genocide,” and I’d like to speak on behalf of the fringes and factions of the modern Armenian people.
When I refer to these fractions, I’ll leave that category vague. I want to cast a wider net here, from the Atheist types to the Consumerists. From those with an existential view of the new era, who have seen the calamity and chaos of the nations’ history, and chosen more sensible goals, like tallying Facebook friends or finishing the Criterion Collection. Or Tarantino-generation types who think Drive-in Cinema references are the height of intellectualism.
The Armenian camp isn’t just Mamikonites and Tehlerianites, and I think perhaps we should start embracing this dichotomy. I come from the atheistic, nihilistic, bleeding heart, apologist milieu, and I have some bones and marrow to pick.
The concept of “White Genocide” runs clamorously towards a new genre of Armenosploitation; A generation of consciousness, so enveloped by Armenia’s greatest tragedy that the word “Genocide” now serves as an engine rather than an enigma. Exploitation so thorough, that to many members of our human comedy, the words “Armenian” and “Genocide” have become inseparable. This exploitation sees the same chestnuts repeated ad Pavlov: the Armenian grade school reading that awful William Saroyan passage on creating a new Armenia, armchair historians referencing “the Hitler Quote” and of course, grayscale genocide event posters of somber and wrinkled grandmothers holding worry beads. Oh, and worse yet, people who think Ararat is a good movie, and much like that film, our nationalism tends to be overindulgent.
So with all the faux-organic posturing of a plastic fruit basket, “White Genocide” appears like a ghostly King Hamlet back to foretell against a new specter; using calamity as a crutch, and recycling a term that practically dominates our entire nation’s discourse already. The set of suckers who fell for the pitch of the massacre novelty advertiser, who couldn’t quite sell “White Auschwtiz” or the “Khmer White,” and the concept is as errant as the name.
“White Genocide” implies with some patriarchal, aristocratic arrogance that there are those who can define what denigrates Armenian culture. The natural conclusion we can follow is that these elitists can also define the entire Armenian nation as a whole. This makes serving up “White Genocide” exclusionary, and it antagonizes international influence. The pitfall is, of course, that we absorbed ideas like Darwinism, Democracy and Feminism largely from outside influence, and they have dominated previously conceived Armenian notions. Just as Armenian achievements have likely broadened other cultures, “white” culture and others have enriched our nation. So what is the true incentive? Well it’s your garden variety “Gulf of Tonkin”–a fear based power play.
Living under phantom nuclear threats, gay marriage bans and constant god-peddling in America is a nice contemporary play of conservative backlash that “White Genocide” represents. The cardiac murmur of the red blooded right-wing nostalgic who wants to serve Christianity, Conservatism, Militarism, Nationalism as one big Armenian cure-all dose of steroids. This solution is not only claustrophobic and aggressive, but it is an admission of defeat. Radicalizing our rhetoric after years of fascist, intolerant and diabolic enemies of our past is about as smart as your great-uncle picking up that Committee of Union and Progress brochure from the soapbox salesman at the Turkish Bazaar. So slowly from the rigid categorizing, stereotyping, schema-crafting inclinations, the well intentioned hope of creating an Armenian Uber-man, just creates a hollow caricature.
Popular American media has already latched on to this cartoon facsimile, serving the same sappy Christian-victims narrative we’ve so categorically reinforced. The latest “60 minutes” piece on the Armenian Genocide is this kind of calamity. CBS interviewed a priest and displayed him praying on mass graves, as if the opinion of some human hallucinogenic is at all research journalism. Here we are a nation with no shortage of researchers or scholars, and yet we are being patronized by the media as a society driven by mystics. This sort of Spielbergian Girl-in-a-pink-dress corn syrup drags down our achievements and our causes and, unless we heighten our senses, I expect it to continue.
And believe me, I know the sunken feeling of fleeting time that tingles your stomachs…I know nostalgia, and empathy and pride. It is natural reaction for those seeking to breathe life into older concepts to pray on these sensibilities, but they are selling Hobson’s choice. Eventually we must loosen our fist from the glass walls of the hourglass and realize how inevitable change will come to replace an indelible past.
Did you really expect a generation gap that saw us sipping the waters of Nasirabad to plowing the fields of Farmville to not change world view? It’s like spinning the kaleidoscope and hoping to land on the same image twice, it’s not impossible… it’s just stupid.
Our nationalism must be far more flexible, if it is really the case that we would “like to see any power of the world destroy this race, then perhaps we shouldn’t be scared of our shadows. I would hope Armenian language, culture and history will survive on the merits of our accomplishments, but if not that, it certainly won’t survive by packaging paranoia. Rather, it will be embracing the breadth of our passions. So many of our achievements drew from rebellion and iconoclasm; Parajanov, Saroyan and Gorky have become Armenian heroes precisely because they embraced new influences in art and found themselves on the front end of entire artistic eras.
These are hoisted Armenian achievements precisely because they weren’t afraid of some enforced purview of their culture. Yet, here we are on the tail end of Soviet–Stalinism, Khomeini-Islamofascism and other cluttered political maw, and we are returning to the same intolerant assumption; having a leader guide our moral compass isn’t bad; it just needs a better navigator.
But everyone has to sit around and question the dogma once in a while. For instance, do you know what did end up happening to the prospective holocauster King Saul? Well this monarch found it a little offensive to do the Lord’s deed…and was promptly punished. “Because you did not obey the LORD or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the LORD has done this to you today.” Now…how is that for A Shameful Act?