Posted by Jeff from bgp01107368bgs.wbrmfd01.mi.comcast.net (220.127.116.11) on Wednesday, July 24, 2002 at 4:17PM :
Marzillier: Thank you Mr. Parhead. Now, I will call on Dr. Ross for his first 10 minute
presentation and then we will have 5 minutes each after that. Dr. Ross?
(Mr. Parhad walks from the podium to his seat; Dr. Ross approaches the podium and begins)
Dr. Ross: Well, I think I?m gonna do this a little more in-formally than Mr. Parhad
did. I? This doesn?t like to plant (referring to his handwatch). Alright, now we are we are all
here because of a protest about my web page. A web page that was not given to my students, but was
available for anybody who wanted to look at my web site.
Now, what I teach is philosophy. And what I teach in that is logic and ethnics, and the kinds of
critiques that I often have are about reasoning and about right and wrong, and the-- the web page in
question was a web page about the politicization of history and about a nationalistic history and a
nationalistic use of history and the support of distortions that often happen when history becomes
politicized and people want to idealize their own people or their own tradition or their own history.
Now, the sorts of things that bothered me, that originally moved me to write that page, ah.. really
a couple of them, were already in Mr. Parhad?s remarks. And one of them was just his mention of
King Nebuchadnessar as though King Nebuchadnessar was an Assyrian and Nebuchadnessar was not an
Assyrian, Nebuchadnessar was a Babylonian, and also Hammurabi was a Babylonian. Now, on my web page
there are a number of examples of mistakes like that what I consider to be distortions, and I don?t
have sources with me here to list, but the sources are listed on the page and the web site.
Now, another what I felt was a confusion in Mr. Parhad?s remarks, was that the deportation of the 10
tribes of Israel was not done by King Nebuchadnessar. The Babylonian captivity of the Jews under--
originally under Nebuchadnessar, that was many years later, then the deportation of the 10 tribes of
Israel. Now, if the question is: Do the cruelties in the Bible meet or surpass or don?t exist in
the comparison to the cruelties of the Assyrians, it is not my interest or business to defend the
Bible as a work of Ethics.
In the Bible, God tells the tribes of Israel to go into the Promised Land and kill everybody! Well,
I?m not interested in defending that. All I?m interested in is a neutral conception of history, and
my objection is to an idealization of peoples in history. Now, one of the remarks I made on the web
page that Mr. Parhad and others seem to take particular exception to goes like this - cause I did
bring what the actual quote is ? and it says: ?In sacred history, where it involved Israel, this
[namely, and I have an example of the kinds of reprisals the Assyrians took against rebels] this
could make the Assyrians as much the moral equivalent of Babylon, Pharaoh, and worse.
Now, Babylon and Pharaoh are all condemned in the Bible because they do things that they are not
supposed to, to Israel. But the context there is sacred history?cause if you are a Christian or a
Jew, it doesn?t matter whether elements of Christianity or Judaism came from Ancient Mesopotamia,
(whether that was the Epic of Gilgamesh or something else) to believing, Christians and Jews, they
all come from God, even if there are these comparisons, cause after all, in Islam, if there are other
religions that have elements that look like things in Islam, the explanation has always been, ?Well,
that did come from God, independently.? And I?m sure Christians and Jews want to say the same thing.
Now, you might wonder ?Well why did that matter? Why was I talking about sacred history?? Well, I
was talking about the modern Assyrian community AS a Christian community, and all of my remarks were
addressed in that context. Now, if there are modern Assyrians who are NOT Christians, that just
isn?t going to mean anything to them. It?s not relevant. And there?s no reason why they should be
protesting me about that, cause I?m not interested otherwise in saying that the Ancient Israelites
were morally superior to anybody ? although I think in a couple of matters, maybe they were ? but
that could be argued independently. I would certainly not personally want to argue that all their
religion comes directly from God. So really there is a context to this statement, and I think the
context gets overlooked. If you are going to ignore the authority that some people vest in religion,
than what I would have to say might be very different. In the passage, that?s where it goes on to
say ?Now, even Hitler?NOT even Hitler got rid of so large a percentage of Jews.? Now, that was
quoted by Mr. Parhad as being that the Assyrians killed the Jews. And, of course they didn?t?they
just deported them, but we don?t really know what happened to them because they disappeared from
Now, why did that deportation happen? Well, that was one of the practices of the Assyrians. Now,
others had practiced deportations, the Hittites, even the Egyptians to an extent, had practiced
deportations. Those are all part of Imperial policies. And why did the Assyrians do stuff like
that? Well to break resistance. So Mr. Parhad mentioned that it?s rebels that get punished. Of
course, rebels to the Assyrians are, you know, an insurrection to the people who practice the
And it may not be the Assyrians were any crueler than anybody else, but they had the largest empire
of the day, they had the largest empire that had existed up to that point, and the problem that
creates is they had to do everything on a larger scale than everybody else. And so if there?s
resistance, if there is a ?rebellion? in their eyes, then you kill the leaders?and you kill them with
exemplary tortures and then if that does not break the resistance of the community, you deport them,
and it is not something just out of the bible, it is extensively documented in Assyrian records. And
the estimates by Professor Roux in ?Ancient Iraq? is that over 3 centuries, something like 4 million
people got deported.
Now, does that mean that I don?t like the Ancient Assyrians? Well, no. They were doing what other
people did but they were doing a lot of it. [Dr. Ross is notified that he has one minute left] Ok.
And why did I write about it? Well, again the context was that if you are a Christian or a Jew, they
are on the wrong side of the religious issue. If you just don?t care about what Christians or Jews
might think, well then: it?s not relevant. It doesn?t matter. The Assyrians were doing things other
But what we do have in the bible is the testimony of one of the conquered people. Cause really it
has not ever been very well explained why the Assyrian empire fell?if it was so well governed, and it
was so solidly founded, and it was so well supported, what happened? Well, one bit of evidence may
be the Bible, may be the book of (________) especially that the Assyrians were hated by many of their
subjects, even if the subjects were no longer able to resist, nor willing to resist. And of course
the kingdom of Judah never resisted anybody else until the Celluseds centuries later. Thank you.
Marzillier: Okay. Now for a rebuttal, 5 minutes for Mr. Par?Parhad.
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