Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald discusses the peculiar lack of understanding of their own experience that pervades Greek and Armenian diaspora communities:
The United States is home to many descendents of victims of Islamic jihad — among them sizable communities of Armenians and Greeks. But merely being a victim or the descendant of victims is not enough, if one fails to understand the impulse that gave rise to the behavior that caused those victims. Thea Halo’s moving work documenting the ordeal of her family at the hands of the Turks, and her stubborn determination to cling to politically correct niceties and to refuse to face the root causes of that ordeal, is a dispiriting case in point.
One also wonders what the Greek government comprehends about Islam. It has offered no objection to, and even seems to be supporting, the admission of Turkey to the E.U. (though Greek Cypriots are not). Does it not worry about 80 million Muslim Turks being free to move about the E.U.? Successive Greek governments have also pursued pro-Arab and anti-Israeli policies, which perhaps can be explained by payoffs to certain individuals and businesses. Or perhaps these policies reflect the inability to connect the Lesser Jihad against Israel with the Jihad, within the Ottoman Empire, that was directed at Greeks as well as other non-Muslims.
And there is not one Armenian community in exile, but several different communities. There are always those who do not consider themselves part of a “community” and should not be placed in it without their express permission. Culturally most advanced are those who received solid Soviet educations, having arrived either from former Soviet Armenia itself, which is now an independent country worth supporting (worth supporting a lot more than Iraq is worth supporting, or Egypt, or Pakistan, or certainly “Palestinian” entities).
Others may have arrived from Paris, as part of the Armenian diaspora now leaving Europe, as the countries of that continent worrisomely islamize. Others are the descendants of those who arrived in the United States in the first few decades of this century. Still others arrived during and after the Lebanese Civil War between Christians and Muslims, from Beirut. And still others have come from Haleb (Aleppo) and other places in the Middle East, including Iran, which is turning out to be for Armenian Christians what it was for them in Tabriz during the reign of Shah Abbas, and not like Tabriz in the fond childhood memories of Vartan Gregorian.
Some are keenly aware of the massacres that were begun in 1915 by Muslim Turks, but remain less aware of those committed in 1894-96 by the Muslim Kurds. Some who ended up in the Christian parts of Haleb may be well aware of the problem of Islam, knowing that if the Alawite rule is overturned and the “real Muslims” take over, it’s over for the Armenians. Some, who ended up in Beirut, may have internalized certain dhimmi attitudes, and may think that while the Turks were bad, they still must identify themselves and their people with the larger Muslim community, since they ended up in Beirut and swallowed some of the islamochristian nonsense going around. Of course, such people would have had to forget the least discussed part of the Armenian genocide — which is that which continued as Armenian female refugees, often with few men along, were kidnapped, raped, or murdered by Arab marauders as they straggled through the Syrian desert before reaching the safe haven either of Christian villages or Christian quarters of Beirut and Haleb.
It is not enough to have been a victim of the Ottomans. One needs to know what prompted such behavior, by Kurds, by Turks, by Arabs. Why did the Kurds (and Turks) in 1894-96 do what they did? For that matter, why did the massacres of the Maronites in Damascus in 1860, when it was under Ottoman rule? What prompted the Turks to massacre Armenians, especially priests and their wives, with such glee, and also to kill 300,000 Greeks in Smyrna while Western warships rocked on the waves just offshore? What prompted the Arab marauders who saw the Armenian women and girls as fair game, as loot to be seized, just like the Janjaweed do today with the non-Arab, and therefore inferior, black African Muslims of Darfur?
Islam. Islam. Islam. Christian men can be killed, and their women, and their property, taken, once they have lost their status as “protected people.” And it is very easy to lose that status. It could be wartime panic, as some suggest. It could be peacetime planning to get rid of a pesky Christian presence. It could be because there is that line of refugees, and they are Christians, and we are Muslims, and their men are gone, and no can stop us or even see us, so what more do we need by way of justification?
Thea Halo, who a few years ago wrote a moving memoir of her Pontic Greek family, Not Even My Name : From a Death March in Turkey to a New Home in America, a Young Girl’s True Story of Genocide and Survival, and others like her seem much more upset with the American government than with those who actually caused her family such suffering. They should instead be full of indignant fervor at the belief-system that impelled those Turks, and Kurds, and Arabs in the Syrian desert to act as they did against not only Pontic Greeks, but against non-Muslims in Constantinople, in Anatolia, and in Europe — with taxes and the human tax of the devshirme. There were the attacks on thousands of Greek shops in Istanbul in September 1955, and on more than a million Armenians, murdered, some tens of thousands in 1894-96, and then perhaps as many as a million in the period 1915-1920.
That she apparently is unconcerned with why all this happened is another measure of the thickness of the fog that envelops so many.