Posted by pancho from customer-148-233-78-77.uninet.net.mx (18.104.22.168) on Friday, September 27, 2002 at 5:09PM :
We should be suspicious of certain claims made by our Christian contingent. It seems clear they consider only themselves to be real or true or pure Assyrians. I think their claim is based on two things...one, that since they have always hated Muslims and were willng to cut off any son or daughter who married one...they MUST have remained "pure". The second reason they give is that they "talk a lot" about being Assyrians...and since they do and Muslim Assyrians or Buddhist or atheist Assyrians don't talk about it, they must not be Assyrians, "after all, why wont they mention it?"
If someone who isn't Assyrian at all...or Christian, should decide one day to do a lot more than talk about being Assyrian...let's say this person rolls up his or her sleeves and does great work...provides funds...tries in every way to benefit the heritage and protect it...would that person be an Assyrian at all? If there was such a thing as becomming a naturalized Assyrian, as thank god there is when you want to be an American, could that person and then his or her children, become Assyrians? Would that person have any more of a claim to being Assyrian than a born and pure Assyrian who did nothing BUT talk?
note: Hopefully by now, having passed the requisite "50 word mark" most of our Christian brethren will have veered off to go read the funny papers instead where "simple yet great" thoughts exist. Good bye.
Let's take a look at the second criteria...the one that says you have to talk a lot abut being an Assyrian...and let's forget the fact that those who talk the most do so behind false names, which tells you right there what the main problem is with talking a lot. Tiglath's observation that Assyria is a verb, not a noun, is still the most elegant way to put it. You are Assyrian when you actively play the part...and not when you talk about it. Our memories of the Mideast are sharp and painful, where we felt uncomfortable because of our Christianity, and where we didn't talk much about being Assyrian because there were those of us who demanded "their country" be returned to them so that the authorities, rightly so, were suspicious of anyone showing too much pride in being Assyrian AND feeling woundedly superior as Christians, a double whammy if you will, that most of us just sort of avoided mentioning it and there weren't a whole lot of outlets for expressing pride in Assyria anyway...without at least expressing some regard for the country Assyria happened to be taken up by...something that would have contradicted the feeling that Assyria was "stolen from us" and the present government had NO right to the land or our allegence. Try that in any other country.
We come to America, or any Western Christian nation and for the first time we can be openly and actively Christian...something we are so grateful for that we instantly feel love and respect for the nation that took us in and allows us this unbelievable freedom. Fair enough. To point out to our people that America has a distinguished history of persecuting all sorts of people doesn't matter to us because it isn't persecuting US, at the moment, so we are content, let those who suffer now take their medicine as we did.
Assyrians first came to this country in the mid 1880's and by the turn of that century there were small pockets in major East Coast cities. By the 1930's a good sized influx was underway and for the last 100 years Assyrians have been just one of the immigrant groups whose destiny outside their homeland seemed to lie in this direction. And in all that time, it gives none of us great satisfaction to say that, we have done precious little to enhance the Assyrian name or heritage even with all of the means and methods at our disposal. In that same time we have worked dilligently to establish branch offices of our churches...in a land already crawling with them. Fine...we wanted our own, it has historical significance...but you would think our pre-Christian heritage would have had an even greater historical interest to us...if we were at least as Assyrian as we have been Christian.
But these things take time and 100 years is about what it takes for any immigrant group to get its bearings, a time for the first generation to find what work it can, to inhabit the slums just vacated by the previous groups and gradually improve conditions for succeeding generations so that in time the standard of living and education is raised for more and more of us. Pretty soon we have our own people in the professions, in business and politics, the Law, education and so on. The stage is set now for us to bring out our most cherished and unique characteristic, the one thing above all others that sets us apart and makes our contibution to civilization clear and distinct and personal. And that is NOT Christianity...something we share with every cannibal and jackass on this planet. I don't care WHAT variations on that theme you want to play...at heart all of them derive from a Jewish History book embarrassingly called the word of a god. Whether we pray to the left or to the right...we pray ultimately to that same consummate butcher who should be ashamed of himself for unleashing these three sisters from hell to plague the entire planet in their mad rush to bring on Armageddon just to see which one wins.
Some few years ago a handful of Assyrians decided it was time now to make just such a unique statement...about being Assyrian that is...about being the descendants of the very first Assyrians...long before a slightly radical Jew was born in Israel. I don't know why it struck us as a good idea to get the blessings of Mar Dinkha but we did. I was taken to a house in San Francisco to meet the man. We told him of our plans. His reply was that he wished us well...but couldn't get personally involved or say anything. Something he wouldn't want to hear when he goes begging for funds. I understand that there is only so much money in the Assyrian community, and he wants all of it...but we were trying to do something for our Assyrian name...our Assyrian historical roots because that is what makes us special and will make our children feel unique pride in a land and a world full to bursting with garden variety Christians. I mean it's hardly newsworthy if you rush out your door in Chicago and say, "Look at me...I am Christian"! The reaction would be..."big deal, so am I".
Anyway, the statue was made, it was installed and all hell has been breaking loose since then. It turns out that the Christians among us, not all of them but certainly the ones who most demand this or that...are not friendly to the idea of emphasizing the Assyrian part of our Heritage, to the exclusion of the Christian side. (It was with true Assyrian delight that I nixed the idea of any priest of ours making any references to any Jews, Old or New, at the unveiling of Ashurbanipal. Let them eat holy humble pie...says I.) That has become more and more clear. What we have, I fear, are Christians who would use the name of Ashur to attract attention to their Christianity, but who secretly have no desire to be reminded that once, when they stood on their feet and not their knees, it was Ashur who helped put them there and keep them there for centuries. Having gone down on their knees now for centuries since then, they've had to find ways to like it, to prefer it...and oddly enough they DO! Which brings us back nicely to this thing about "talking" about being Assyrian while not doing a damn thing about it.
True pride in being an Assyrian is deadly to these certain Christian types we have for it flies in the face of this new religion of theirs and makes them look rather silly when you compare them to their ancestors...which is why they only go as far back as those famous Church Fathers, Mar One and Mar Two and all the Christian Assyrians who were raped, robbed, hanged, slit, diced, shot, sliced in two, torn apart by dogs and all for the LOVE OF CHRIST! When we loved Ashur...he didn't show his love for us by getting us killed and asking us to rejoice. But never mind about that.
Now, as far as this insistance that to be an Assyrian at all you have to be Christian...one doesn't know where to begin with that piece of silliness. I am born of Assyrians on both sides who go back in time at least as long as the rest of us. Yet if I don't believe in that Jew Book, I can't be Assyrian? really? The whole question hinges on how you define culture and ethnicity and what part religion plays in all of that...and there is no need to run through all of that again here. Indeed the only reason it's worthwhile to have this discussion at all is because our Christian Assyrian brethren, in their mad belief that only they are the pure and true Assyrians...are once again cozying up to these Western Christian nations who've done nothing but complicate our lives back home...the same ones bombing and starving the people and the land and treasures of Ashur. These people are dangerous in the extreme only because they manage to cloud your eyes to what they are really about. They have no love or respect for Ashur, for our history before the Jews came, none at all. They are Christians through and through who only use the Assyrian name to give some credibility to their demands for a return of Christianity, their brand, to the Middle East, especially to Iraq right now because that's where they can hide behind someone else's guns.
You need no better proof of that than to note which "Assyrians" they lament over...and who they point to as being the villains in the piece. By now you will all have noted how far out their way aina and others go to mention every incident where a Christian is assaulted by a Muslim...even to the point of faulting Iraq for wanting a drink of water while not saying a thing about who it is that makes it hard for them to get water, or who destroyed or poisoned what facilities they had. Obviously what we have here is a highly selective approach to what ails Iraqi people, Assyrians among them.
If one were genuinely concerned for Assyrians...one would want all the people of Iraq protected, and would speak out when ANY of them are threatened. If your child is in a playground with hundreds of other children, you don't call down an airstrike aganist the entire school...not if you really care for that child. Yet this is what our Christian brethren are doing. Hundreds and maybe thousands of Assyrians have been killed during the Gulf War set up and Sanctions since then. The only reason we even know about any Assyrians in the north is because America "protects" the area and the Kurds allow us some rights. Otherwise there would be the same silence on these thingies as there is where all the other Assyrians and Chaldeans are concerned. These brethren of ours would be calling down death and destruction on ALL of the Assyrians in Iraq. But to them...well versed in "dying so you may live", it's a small price to pay for the CHANCE at getting a Christian pot to piss in handed to them by America, the bold and the beautiful, which you all can see cares for the Assyrians of Iraq a whole lot already.
The kinds of Assyrians who eagerly await this "gift" will tell you they are Assyrians, first of all because they are Christians and therefore HAVE to be. Next they'll tell you they are Assyrians because they talk a lot about being Assyrian, even when asking Bush to attack Iraq...and any Assyrians in Iraq who may be Muslim, but don't TALK a lot about it, can't be Assyrians and deserve to die because they wont "talk". It would seem "talking" is the main criteria for these brethren of ours...and if you think about it...IT IS...for like Mar Dinkha, they will do precious little about any part of our history that is NOT Christian. They will "talk" about being Assyrians...but you would be mistaken if you thought they meant any part of that history before the Jews came to us. They only refer to the pre-Christian days at all to tell you how wrong we were, how deserving of the fate that befell us...how glad we should be that a Jew god found work for us to do...that we could be of service to him is supposed to be our greatest glory. They are proud to have STOPPED BEING ASSYRIAN.
They wont tell you that of course...how would it look?
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