Posted by pancho from pool0329.cvx24-bradley.dialup.earthlink.net (126.96.36.199) on Friday, December 13, 2002 at 12:45PM :
No one else is going to tell you...maybe no one else thinks this way.
My work as an Assyrian sculptor wasn't just about making it as a commercial success...you know that better than anyone. What you and I managed to achieve with the Ashurbanipal Monument was something outstanding, not in itself, but for what it signaled for all of us. It's something to build on for the future. I didn't expect to be thanked for it because at its heart the project struck at the very foundations of this muddled thinking of ours about our identity vs our religion.
You have a big heart and these people are using you. It is undeniably tragic that Assyrian Christians found themselves once again uprooted and cast out unprotected. The heart responds immediately to images of their suffering. But the head has to weigh in as well...and with us it seldom has...not when our blood boils.
The role the United States played in undermining that entire region shouldn't be in doubt any longer. It's one thing for the United States to espouse democracy and freedom when they benefitted from a European Parliamentary background, having the Renaissance as a guide... enjoyed the Age of Reason, which finally cracked the dominance of the Church...followed by the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution...it's one thing for us to expect a set of behaviors from ourselves WE rarely even honor. It's completely inappropriate and insane to expect Islam, with its dismal practice of tying all Human endeavor in the chords of a static religion such as Islam which spends all of its energy in trying to justify the teachings of a prophet of 1300 years ago...to behave in ways that must be coherent to us.
Islam is 700 years younger than Christianity...comparatively speaking that means they are as developed as we were 700 years ago...as Christian nations. That puts us back to the year 1302 AD...a time when we were burning heretics...denying science or reason...a time called by us our "Dark Ages". A time also when Islam is recognized as having been far in advance of any Christian nation...just before the Mongol invasion totally destroyed the splendor of another Baghdad...the first city of its day.
You believe you're serving an Assyrian cause by helping the AAS...says so right there in their title, "Assyrian". The majority of the Assyrians of Iraq are Muslim, not Christian. What the AAS is doing is aiding Christians...something you could do far better by getting the United States to stop playing war games in the nurseries and classrooms and hospitals of Iraq.
Before the Iran/Iraq War, which we're only now beginning to understand was encouraged and fueled and driven by the United States, the people of Iraq were enjoying greater prosperity than they ever had in their brief history. Health care was better than in half of the states in this country...and was the best in that region. Education all the way through graduate school was free and women were as liberated as they have ever been in the Mideast or the West. And, one must add....Christians were allowed full freedom to practice their religion...even with the bitter memory of what Christian nations had done to Iraq and others in the region only a few years before. The Iraqi government cracked down on those patriots of ours foolish enough to demand "their" country be returned to them...as any government would do...be it Spain against ther Basques, or the Protestant Irish against their Catholic brothers and sisters.
Considering where Iraq was, and where it has been brought to, even granting the fact that strong arm rulers can be paranoid...(witness Bush in this country)...there would have been no need for an AAS to replace roofs and build schools if America had not intervened to secure the oil fields there for itself. If Assyrians in the West are concerned for the welfare of their fellows in Iraq...all they have to do is get the West to back off and allow that country, in time, to get back where it was and carry on. Change... democratic and the rest of it, was surely coming to that region...but stability and security from outside intervention would have to be in place for some time before these things could take root and grow. You can see in how short a time America has passed all sorts of repressive laws that the threat of external attack and internal espionage can unhinge a people...even one as dedicated and as accustomed to wealth and freedom and democracy as this one...how much more so then are Iraqi generals liable to react and over react?
Your time and energy and that of your fellows, can in no way begin to improve conditions for Christians in Iraq. In answer to your heartfelt demand of, "what are we to do"? I would say, that if you want to be effective, you would help make it possible for Iraq to get back to caring for its own people...for they have far more resources than you will ever be able to generate for even a small fraction of them.
You've been conscripted...your heart strings tugged at...in order to help one political entity over another back there. These people are Christian Phalangists...Christian political groups who for the moment are vying for "supremacy"...but who can guarantee nothing for the future...nothing except the everlasting resentment of the dominant population in Iraq.
Your efforts on behalf of gaining wider recognition for our Assyrian...not our Christian, heritage was far more productive in the long run than any school building in Iraq will ever be. There isn't a damn thing on the horizon that promises, or even hints at the possibility, things will be any different this time... in fact, quite the opposite. We've built before only to have our efforts wasted. Youy've already seen pumps and wells paid for a few years ago trashed. How many times can you go to the same people and ask for another donation for yet another roof?
Someone...someone has to work at changing our image in the world, from the top...not from the trenches buying chickens and trees...things that past experience tells us have been destroyed periodically. The Christians in Iraq are fighting a losing battle...actually they aren't fighting it. It's being forced on them by others from outside the country, and those within, who are as assininely eager to be THE leaders of Assyria as any of these two-bit taxi driviers we have here.
Given the chance you know most of them would leave for Chicago in a heartbeat, if not they, then certainly their children. It isn't "Assyrians" you're fighting to keep in Iraq...Assyrians are all over Iraq...it's Christians you're fighting to keep there...meanwhile no one does anything for the ASSYRIAN heritage anywhere in the world.
The Ashurbanipal Monument is permanent...it isn't going anywhere. No matter what happens in the Mideast, our Assyrian monuments will last as long as this country does. Lasting efforts must have long range planning and goals...not the stop-gap emergencies that pull tears from our eyes. We will never get an Assyria again...and shouldn't want one...not with the hostility fallout that will pervade that region for decades to come. And any guarantees for a Christian minority will have to be forthcoming from the Iraqi government to have any meaning, not imposed by the outside Christian nations. Christians in Iraq want to be free to practice their Christian religion...not any kind of Assyrian heritage...and they exist as small pockets in the countryside...hardly an intellectual or educational elite.
You have the potential to make a lasting difference in a way that counts for us...in a way no one else is going to do. Give Iraq peace for two generations and the full enjoyment of its wealth and all those villages will be rebuilt and schools will pop up everywhere. But no one...certainly not in Iraq, is going to do anything for those of us living in the West...no one is going to make anything to give our young people in the years and centuries to come, anything to show for being Assyrian...anything to feel pride in here...here where there is so much wealth and opportunity.
Israel wasn't created by Jews in Palestine, and isn't being funded by them either...it was built in New York and Washington and London. If Israel should disappear, Jews have placed themselves in leadership positions around the world, in the most powerful nations, in Finance, Politics, Business, Media and the Arts to such a degree that they have several countries and the resources of those countries and the people of those countries, supporting them...rooting for them...providing them with every opportunity to secure their Heritage. If Israel disappeared today, Judaism is safe and well entrenched.
If Assyrians...accepting for argument's sake that only Christians can be Assyrians...are driven from Iraq...where will that leave us...where will our Heritage take root and grow? It isn't in one small corner of Iraq that this Heritage is in danger...it's in the rest of the world where we suffer from a lack of visibillity...from a total absense from the contemporary scene...where we can't give a single good reason or means for any of our children to BE Assyrian.
I probably should have sent this to you privately...but why? Why can't we join the civilized world...come out of our respective closets where we sit in paranoia and fear, and talk about these things in a public way?
Go ahead...get pissed at me...we'll just have that much more to argue about if you ever let me in the front door again. Takes a friend to tell you your fly is open.
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