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Posted by Sadie from D006034.N1.Vanderbilt.Edu ( on Sunday, April 06, 2003 at 7:13PM :

If we're gonna get anywheres, the Assyrian-& Arab- American communities are going to have to advertise the hell out of ourselves.

To keep things more-or-less confidential, I'm not giving away names or genders of the persons in the following story. A friend of mine, a GOOD friend (we'll call my friend X), has a parent (we'll call this person Y) in the restaurant bidness.... Y doesn't own a restaurant, but negotiates food contacts for some of the classier chains that superstars & politicians go to to mingle with other famous people - for example, some recent restaurants Y has interviewed with were owned by Ted Turner & George Bush Sr. AND, we're talking mega million dollar contracts (for raw foods) that Y negotiates. Anyway, X was telling me about an interview Y went to, & how George Bush Sr. came into town recently to check out Y's work. Republicans eat steak, & Y can negotiate awesome contracts for beef so that the restaurant makes as close to pure profit as possible when they sell that meat to the customer.... AND then it hit me: Fred is right!!! THIS is how the politicians make it around here: own restaurants & resorts, invite one's wealthy friends, & one gets deals made for every "favor" one gives them, whether it be free lodging in exotic locations, the chance to hear some incredible music or see breath-taking works of art (including performance art), or a connection used in order to meet someone else with whom one wants to be connected. George Bush Sr. sits on the board of one of the most exclusive chain restaurants in the country, & his family uses that restaurant as a backdrop to negotiate politics... apparently, over the best steak money can buy, Republican style.

Our community needs artists (fine arts, performance arts, & musicians), like Fred said, & posh restaurant owners, etc. & we need professionals in every field so we can get things done - all across the spectrum. We need to be supportive of one another, playing individual's foibles (individuals within our community) off as nothing more than eccentric behavior, instead of criticizing them & then targeting them to be hated by the rest of the community, etc. We need our artists & restaurants to provide the appropriate atmosphere of respect, culture, & power in business settings or, in general, within our community, to help us negotiate deals for our people here & abroad – like Fred said, our artists are just as important as our business men, lawyers, doctors, & scientists. & the good thing about this is that we have a unique culture - we call the shots about what is appropriate behavior in these settings & what is special about & to us. As a community, we need to be giving things away to other people (wisely) - throwing benefit concerts for other people, giving away sculptures & paintings, etc., slapping our Assyrian names on these things so that we become a part of this society that will be remembered. We need to be BOLD. We need to make ourselves NOTICED. We need to start including more & more "outsiders" in our functions - it doesn't have to be ALL functions that are run this way, but we need more “outsiders” at our functions. & we have to provide incentive for "outsiders" to want to come - say a rare performance by a musician playing traditional songs, the chance to eat our "exotic" food, etc. PLAY EVERYTHING UP. MAKE THE MOST OUT OF EVERY ASSET WE HAVE. If an Assyrian contingent visits the Queen of England, instead of having a picture of just those Assyrians in front of the royal palace in our magazines, get a picture of those Assyrians WITH the Queen, maybe a few pictures of cheek kisses being exchanged & PLAY IT UP.

This is how the good-old-boy order works around here. If you're a politician here, you don't talk about your faults, you ignore them & play up whatever little things you did that were good for anyone at any point in your life. & you use your connections & exchange favors as much as you can. I see it everywhere around here. It's nasty to me – very pretentious - but if one's wanting to change things, politically, one is just going to have to do these things - talk people up, etc.

I know there are people in the Assyrian- & Arab- American communities wanting to affect change for themselves & their communities here & abroad. & Fred's absolutely right - if there's going to be any change around here, it's going to have to be built on our assets - our artists, our restaurant owners, etc. AS WELL AS our scientists, lawyers, & businessmen. Forget humility, flaunt your stuff as a community. Most importantly, allow for diversity within the community – different opinions as well as occupations & interests are necessary to make us a strong & well-rounded community. We only look more infantile & pathetic when some of us decide to shut others of us out.

-- Sadie
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