"I'm A Victim"
Our history goes back to … well, the invention of history itself by the Greek historian Herodotus and even before. Only back then we didn’t call ourselves Greek – that’s our Roman “slave-name” – but Hellenic. Greece (i.e. Hellas) consisted of city-states on both shores of the Aegean Sea and the Aegean islands. Greek philosophy and high culture first flourished on the eastern shore (i.e. Asia Minor) in the city of Miletus starting with the philosopher-scientist Thales. And being of the Aegean, it is not surprising that water is the essence of Thales’ hydro-centric cosmology.
The eastern shore of the Aegean was a part of Greece for over 2000 years during periods of Greek independence and as part of the Roman Empire. Turks are not indigenous to Asia Minor; they’re Steppe people – savage invaders from the east that converted to Islam. In Acts 19:10 it says that Paul preached until “all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.” No Turks! And the word Asia, which Plato also uses in two dialogues, refers to the land of my ancestors. Apparently even our label has been usurped by those influenced by the Palestinian terrorist and Columbia University Professor, Edward Said, who has convinced people that oriental is a bad bad word. Victimized again!
After centuries of fighting the barbarians at the gates, Greeks, running low on Greek Fire, lost the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, Constantinople, in 1453 bringing to an end two millennia of Greek dominance. For the next 400 years Greeks lived in oppression and servitude. Indeed, this period of Greek servitude is roughly the same time period as black slavery in America. Should I be asking for reparations from the Turks? And after all that time, can anyone expect us, with our shackles newly removed, to compete in a level playing field?
Of course, Greek-Americans like Italian-Americans (actually Sicilians are really Greeks, right Chris?) are too proud to ask for affirmative action. For example, twenty years ago, the City University of New York deciding that Italian-Americans were “underrepresented”, contemplated a policy of affirmative action. When I told this to a tenured left-leaning Italian-American, he was insulted and outraged. But, what then does it mean when he vociferously advocates and defends affirmative action for blacks?
Besides, it is blatantly absurd to treat individuals on the basis of demographic similarities to people dead for hundreds of years. After all, today Turkey is the poster child of a modern and secular Islamic democracy that fully respects the rights of minorities. Wait a second! Where are the minorities? Fifty years ago Constantinople was 25% Greek and one hundred years ago both Greeks and Armenians were major sub-populations of Asia Minor.
The Greeks of Asia Minor suffered the same fate as the Jews in Arab countries. In the 1950s Muslims ethnically cleansed Jews from Arab lands and Greeks from Asia Minor. While Israel has consistently maintained a population of 20% Arabs, no Arab country could tolerate the existence of Jews and Turkey could no longer tolerate the presence of Greeks in what was for 2500 years Asian Greece.
Should we ask for the “right of return” to “occupied Greece?” After all, it was less than fifty years since Greeks were driven from their land. And what should Greeks do about the continued occupation of the Holiest location in Orthodox Christianity: the Church of Hagia Sofia? This would be the equivalent of our occupation of Mecca. This church is still desecrated with Arabic graffiti from the Koran. This is worse than showing disrespect to a holy book! Time to riot and indiscriminately kill?
I’m not the only oppressed Greek whose family hails from “occupied Greece.” There was the film director and anti-Communist Elia Kazan and the shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. Hey, if the Oil Sheiks of Arabia can be oppressed by colonialism and Oprah is oppressed, who says you have to be poor? Victimization can afflict people of all stations in life. Right?
In any case, I’ve applied for my federal certificate of victimization as a Native Anatolian. Now I can pack my belongings, setup a refugee camp on the Turkish border, and suffer until the world loves me … or I can live my life well, laugh at the ethnic “cheeseburger jokes” on SNL and forget this whole victimization nonsense. Greek-Americans prefer the latter – and so do most people. There’s an old saying: “living well is the best revenge.” Yes, you guessed it – I’m American – and we all see ourselves as unique individuals.