I remember the 1970s. There was a sense of idealism in the air that I fear is sadly lacking from the lives of young people in this cynical post-modern world. Back then I and a group of like-minded friends scraped enough money together to purchase a small run-down farm in a remote area in the far north of New Zealand. The aim was to set up a self-sufficient community away from the capitalist, imperialist, war-mongering, consumer-driven, crassly materialist society we saw all around us. The dream didn’t last, sad to say, though one of my friends, more committed and determined than the rest of us, is still there, doing his thing.
Some of us had worked for the election of a Labour government in 1972, naively believing they would work to help us build a better world. They didn’t. From the disillusionment emerged a party calling itself ‘Values’, forerunner of today’s Greens, espousing policies aiming at a more egalitarian society based on sustainable use of natural resources. It was a trend common to most ‘developed’ nations at the time – though European reformers, for example the Germans, with more representative electoral systems, unlike New Zealand, did manage to gain some representation.
But something went wrong. Germany’s Greens, originally springing out of the environmentalist and peace movements, opposed to pollution, nuclear power, militarism and exploitative industrialisation, in 1993, after national re-unification, joined forces with ‘Bündnis 90’ (Alliance 90), ‘an alliance of three non-Communist political groups in East Germany’. Well, I’m no big advocate of Communism, but subsequently Germany’s Greens seem to have lost their way. The latest evidence of this is their sponsoring a resolution to the Bundestag calling on the German government to support the ‘Armenian genocide’ lobby.
Now I have no problem with Green’s leader Cem Özdemir believing whatever he likes on any issue – but I do question whether the 1970s peacenik environmentalist founders of his party would have considered championing this dubious cause to be a useful way of advancing their goal of a more socially and environmentally friendly world. I know you’ll tell me there are many high-profile people in the world supporting this Armenian genocide business – Kim Kardashian and Amal Clooney to name but two. But I have to say in response that I have cause to question the leftist credentials of these no doubt well-meaning ladies.
Leaving Mrs KK West aside, for self-evident reasons, Mrs Clooney probably has claims to be taken more seriously. Nevertheless, pro-Armenian lobbyists’ disparaging opponents for being in the pay of Turkish interests seems a trifle hypocritical when they see no problem is hiring a lawyer like Mrs Clooney to advance their own case. Of course, you wouldn’t expect anyone to front up to a meeting with a world leader like Angela Merkel dressed in a hemp sweater and jeans, but Amal Clooney’s fashion website gushed that their icon was, for the occasion, wearing Versace, Oscar de la Renta, Dior etc gear to the value of more than $8,000.
Still, I don’t want to be accused of mounting a purely ad hominem (or worse, ad mulierem) argument here. I pay regular visits to the Yahoo news website while checking one of my email accounts. They dip into international news media, and I occasionally find snippets of interest. I have been getting increasingly annoyed, however, at the seemingly endless recycling of an item entitled ‘The Forgotten Genocide: Why it Matters Today.’ This piece is dated April 24, 2013, and the significance of that date is Armenian lobbyists chose it as their day for holding demonstrations around the world in support of their cause. THREE YEARS! Can I be excused for wondering whether the people at Yahoo have a vested interest in pushing this particular issue?
What I particularly object to, however, is the large picture on the page showing eight young naked women crucified on wooden crosses on a desolate landscape. This evocative image frequently appears on websites arguing for the recognition of an Armenian genocide, purporting to exemplify the inhuman atrocities carried out against innocent Armenians by barbaric Turks.
Well, I’m not going to delve into questions of how many Armenians died, what their people had done to justify punitive action, whether there was a deliberate and concerted attempt to wipe out an entire nation, and whether Turks were/are responsible for whatever happened. Simply I want to draw your attention to posters and newspaper articles that appeared in 1919 promoting a Hollywood movie entitled ‘Auction of Souls’. The film was based on a book, ‘Ravished Armenia’ purportedly written by Arshaluys (Aurora) Mardiganian about her personal experiences in the ‘Armenian Genocide’.
According to one poster, ‘Society people, adults only, paid $10.00 [$143.00 in 2016 dollars] per seat in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago to see this remarkable motion picture.’ Thousands were reportedly turned away, not surprising, perhaps, given the ‘adults only’ tag, and the prurient advertising:
‘Along the Trail of the Unspeakable Turk’
‘Not a picture for children’
‘The Armenian beauty who escaped to America after two years in the hands of Kurdish slave traders and Turkish harems’
‘You’ll see what they went through before and after they were sold’
‘A film that will make the blood of American women boil’
‘Sole survivor of half a million Armenian girls’ who had been ‘sold in Turkish slave markets’, ravished in the desert by ‘wild Turkish bandits’, buried in desert sands by their desperate mothers ‘to save them from the attacks of brutal Turks’, and more. This particular magazine article presents eight stills from the move, all of which feature young beautiful ‘fearful’, ‘helpless’, ‘unwilling’ Armenian girls, with not a red-blooded Armenian male in sight to stand up for them.
Later on, ticket prices dropped to more reasonable levels at reruns in Cleveland and elsewhere as the film travelled around the county. Unfortunately, no complete copy has survived, but extracts can be seen on Youtube, and, perhaps more interestingly, stills from the movie, including the one of the naked crucified maidens, keep turning up on websites arguing for the ‘truth’ of the Armenian genocide. I wonder if Cem Özdemir and his German Green Party friends are aware of this monumental con trick.
The saddest thing, however, is how these self-styled leftist politicos keep getting away with throwing crumbs in support of trendy issues to gullible young (and not-so-young) voters, while propping up the financial/military/industrial complex that condemns billions of human beings world-wide to lives of virtual slavery and misery.
Bernie Sanders may be a wonderful man, and perfectly sincere in his socialist beliefs. Certainly his Wikipedia page presents a glowing testimonial, and I have no desire to disillusion American voters who see him as one capable of returning a semblance of reality to the American dream. Unfortunately, I remember a similar sense of euphoria surrounding the election of Barack Obama back in 2008. Subsequently he took responsibility for a $700 billion bailout of Wall St, and showed scant sympathy for the ‘Occupy’ movement of 2011. According to an article in The Independent, President Obama has authorised the bombing of seven countries, none of whom his government has actually declared war on – and launched eight times as many drone strikes as his predecessor, George Dubya. Apparently he is still trying, eight years on, to fulfil his promise to close the US torture facility at Guantanamo in Cuba – but don’t hold your breath. According to some sources, he has been ‘running the most hidden, most clandestine and most secrecy-obsessed administration in American history.’ To be fair to Armenians, though, they have as much right as everyone else to feel aggrieved, given that Mr Obama promised, prior to election, that he would give official recognition to the Armenian genocide – but is unlikely now to get around to it.
It’s a sad business. I read an article in The New Zealand Herald the other day bewailing the state of the country’s education system, and ascribing blame to Prime Minister David Lange’s Labour government that held the reins of power from 1984 to 1990. The writer is absolutely right, and he could have gone a good deal further. Sweeping to power behind Lange’s glib friend-of-the-people rhetoric, his government implemented economic and social ‘reforms’ beyond the wildest dreams of contemporary right wing ideologues, Margaret Thatcher in the UK, and America’s own free market wizard, Ronald Reagan.
That Labour government’s election win was facilitated by the brief appearance on the political scene of a party founded and funded by a multi-millionaire property tycoon. Bob Jones’s party was credited incorrectly at the time with engineering the defeat of New Zealand’s traditional conservative party (National). National’s leader was almost universally unpopular, and the party would have lost anyway. What the property tycoon succeeded in doing was bringing about the political extinction of the Social Credit Party whose chief platform was monetary reform, and ensuring that the ‘Labour’ government had an absolute majority to rule alone – a mandate which they proceeded to egregiously abuse by ‘surprisingly for an ostensibly socialist party, implement[ing] free market reforms’.
As far as I know, none of those involved were Armenians.