The GRAT debate, part III (rebuttal)

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Posted by Jeff from LTU-207-73-65-124.LTU.EDU ( on Thursday, July 25, 2002 at 3:42PM :

Marzillier: Okay. Now for a rebuttal, 5 minutes for Mr. Par—Parhad.

(Mr. Parhad approaches the podium)

Parhad: It’s interesting. This so obviously “Euro-centric” view being expressed here: the first comments out of his mouth were that I don’t know who Nebhchadnessar was, that I said he was an Assyrian. Rather than thinking he didn’t hear correctly, he assumed that I - who am an Assyrian sculptor, who have placed monuments in cities, and know damn well the difference between the Babylonians and Assyrians – made that mistake. And second of all, Hammurabi was not Babylonian. He was an Amorite from the West.

The idea that the ancient Hebrews were justified in doing what they did because their God told them to but the Assyrians were somehow villainous because they did what their God told them to do strikes me as odd. If one people get away with saying, “Well, God told me to do it”, I don’t see why the others can’t say, “God told me to do it” and get off the same way.

I am kind of stunned by the complacent arrogance… I mean, if you are going to talk about the Assyrian empire as being a very powerful and large empire that got away with murder, you might ask yourself about the American Empire. You might, but then again, you might not. It seems to me that empires do these kinds of things…and to level all of this against the Assyrian empire while not looking at other empires could explain why there are so few Assyrians here.

There are Sikhs who are being killed. There are Arab American Christians who are being killed now because the Americans are terrified. And the Assyrians are a little afraid, too. I mean, I’m born in Iraq and we have Assyrians who come from Syria and from Turkey. This is not the best of times to be talking about Assyrians as being violent and brutal, and all the rest of it.

To tell us that there is something wrong with us as Assyrian Christians if we find any pride in our ancestors is ridiculous, it is absolutely ridiculous. That’s like telling an Englishman he should have no pride in his ancestors because of the things they did – I mean, it’s just absurd… or to tell a modern Jew that he should be ashamed of the ancient Jews because they killed every man, woman, and child because their God told them to.

There is a wide disparity here. Assyrians, I guess, because of the way they appear in the bible, are kind of fair game. I’ll say again, that there is far more current research than what Dr. Ross is familiar with. He is not an expert in the field, to say the least. And what upset us was that he was so complacent in putting out this article, which, by the way he says in the paper he did present to his students. It was written for that purpose. It was not only on a web page, and that the entire paper came about from a disagreement he had with one Assyrian student in his class. Our position still is that the things in this paper are inexcusable, and it will remain there. Is that my time?

(Prof. Marzillier tells Mr. Parhad that his time is NOT up)

I’m sorry… I thought that was… it was somebody’s phone.

But my concern more was with modern day Assyrians and that’s why I took umbrage at this. I mean, there are all kinds of historical misrepresentations going on – I could care less. But to present this kind of view, right now, to our people, our young people, in this country, I think is a terrible crime, and I’m surprised that the Academic Senate here - which has rules against doing these kinds of things, which says that you should respect the students of a community - would allow this to happen and would maintain that there was no big deal when the Assyrian students in our community would certainly be upset if you told them the people who taught them their history are FRAUDS.

I don’t know who taught you your first history, but my parents taught me mine, and my grandparents. That’s not a nice thing to say about people’s parents. I doubt if he would have said that about any other ethnic group that I can think of that goes to school here.

This is a fantastic time to begin teaching people about the different kinds of people who make up America. It’s not just Germans and it’s not just Irish and French. There are a lot of people from the Middle East who are now Americans. And as you can see by what’s happening, a lot of them are feeling targeted, and are being targeted. So this would be an excellent time to stop engaging in this sort of thing, to not insist that I don’t know who the King of Babylon was, and that Nabuchadnessar was an Assyrian. I know better than that, but I also know that the Assyrians also ruled Babylon, as the Babylonians ruled Assyria. There was intermarriage, and this “deportation” you speak of, was to the benefit of many people, as I said Jews, many of them, did not return to Judea but chose to stay in Babylon. And there has been a Jewish community there since that time, to this day.

Marzillier: One minute left

Parhad: I’ll end on that point.

-- Jeff
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