BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
Once upon a time, bands of marauding horsemen started moving westward across Asia. They gained infamy for their brutality and established dominion over many native peoples.
Eventually, these horsemen became known as the Ak Koyunluh, Kara Koyunlu, Osmanluh, etc. Turks, or in other places Tatars, and eventually, in our time, even Azeris.
Of course they eventually settled down and, to maintain control, viciously assimilated the indigenous populations they had conquered.
Over time, the momentum and control generated by massacres and destruction faded. They actually had to govern, but weren’t very good at it. So while people outside their oppressive rule flourished, they languished or came to be ruled by others, some of whom were their former subjects. The best known example is the “sick man of Europe” as the Ottoman Empire came to be recognized.
In one last massive act of brutality, that empire committed genocide in a misguided effort to “save itself” from its own people! Then a world war came along and provided an opportunity for some enterprising Turks to reestablish their “glory” by taking advantage of the opening provided by the aftermath of that war— the beginning of the end for traditional empires.
Thus were born Turkey and Azerbaijan (T &A). But, they had a severe problem. Most nations, as they constitute states, have a history they can look upon with pride. What did T & A have? Murder and destruction and the abhorrence of all those they had mistreated for centuries. What were they to do?
Humans being creative, they came up with the idea of fabricating a totally non-factual history— something that their people could at least be proud of, a narrative that could be passed on to children who can sense bad things and avoid them. Unfortunately, such mythology cannot last, so a huge dose of pride- and ego- building accompanied the introduction of the new “history” so that people would fight to protect this concocted past.
Now, T & A have a double problem— a phony past and incredibly delicate ego, hence things like Section 301 of Turkey’s constitution (that makes it illegal to insult Turkey, the Turkish ethnicity, or Turkish government institutions) or the mistreatment of Ekrem Eylisli, the noted novelist who was stripped of his honors by Azerbaijani authorities when he dared write the truth about Azerbaijan’s murderous anti-Armenian doings, thereby “insulting” the country. This is also why megalomaniacs like Erdogan and Aliyev end up as leaders of their countries.
T & A are in the unenviable position of having to try to perpetuate the unsustainable. They have to whip up propaganda non-stop. They have to create enemies, internal and external. They have to feed their populace a constant diet of hate— hate against truth tellers, hate against Armenians, hate against minorities, hate against gays, hate against Jews, hate against Kurds, hate against… well, you get it, any target will do.
This frenzy of ego, fallacy, and hate is a toxic brew. You can see it, taste it, firsthand if you read postings by Turks (of either country) on various online sites. You can perceive it in the example a friend from Turkey once told me. Supposedly, the best way to drive a Turk into a fit of rage is to claim that Ataturk, the “founder” of today’s Turkey, was gay. Imagine the cognitive dissonance occurring in someone’s head who has been taught, simultaneously, to think of Ataturk as something like a god and of gays as people to be hated. Think also of the disconnect that any human will perceive when being taught how glorious his/her nation is, while seeing helpless people being murdered for no other reason than they are Armenian. Similarly, think of the disconnect when someone is taught how great their country is, while that same country glorifies someone who axe-murders a sleeping colleague.
I pity these poor people, but also extend my hand to them to come clean, with our help, so we can all return to our homes, rebuild our nations, and live decent lives.