AHMP's letter to The National Review

American Hellenic Media Project
PO Box 1150
New York, NY 10028-0008

via fax, post & e-mail: 212-849-2835

June 3, 1999

Richard Lowry, Editor
National Review
215 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10016

RE: David Klinghoffer's May 17th review, "Greek Tragedy"

Dear Mr. Lowry:

Greek-Americans, Orthodox Christians, Armenians and Hellenes all over the world, and people of good conscience have become alarmed at the increasing assault against Hellenism, Orthodox Christianity, Greeks and their heritage by our media establishment. These have ranged from disinformation regarding contemporary geopolitical issues, to the distortion of Hellenic history, to outright slurs and verbal pogroms.+ It is within this disturbing environment that David Klinghoffer's magnum opus of anti-Hellenic bigotry ("Greek Tragedy", 5/17/99, p. 64) has caused such alarm in the Greek-American community.

While the right of all to express their views freely must be vigilantly protected, journalists should clearly be held to a higher standard of ethical integrity, responsibility and accuracy, particularly when they are allowed the privilege of a wide-reaching and respected platform from which to disseminate their views.

There is a line that should not, must not, and cannot be crossed. Derogatory and hateful invectives attacking an ethnic group, their history, and their heritage -- particularly when founded upon uninformed and racist falsehoods -- have no place in any credible news periodical. In his May 17th review of the Greek gallery at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, your Senior Editor, David Klinghoffer, has brazenly crossed this line and has violated the most basic tenets of journalistic integrity, ethics, and professional responsibility.

Mr. Klinghoffer proclaims, with transparent malice and an intent to degrade, that "Greeks hate Turks, so on your next trip to Athens don't say this out loud, but the truth is that modern-day Greeks basically are Turks, without the mustaches."

Mr. Klinghoffer not only attacks Greeks and their heritage, but disseminates erroneous information to accomplish this:

* Rather than check his facts, Mr. Klinghoffer chose to disseminate a falsehood in a manner derogatory to Greeks and Turks alike. Had your senior editor made even a cursory attempt to familiarize himself with the relevant facts surrounding the Ottoman occupation, he would have discovered that whereas many Greeks were forced to convert to Islam -- accounting for a large input of Greek and other eastern European ancestry into the Turkish gene pool -- conversion by an Ottoman Turk to Christianity was anathema and could result in death. As a result, Turkish input into the Greek population was minimal. Moreover, Turks and Greeks have their own distinct cultures, languages, religions and histories, and Mr. Klinghoffer insults both by erroneously proclaiming that "Greeks are Turks".

* Efforts to disenfranchise Greeks of their ancient heritage have almost always been motivated by misograecist bias, and have been used in the past not only to justify the mass slaughters of Greek populations during the final centenary of Turkish rule but to palliate modern-day transgressions against Greeks, such as the genocide of 350,000 Pontian Greeks after the turn of the century, ethnic cleansing of two million Greeks from Turkey in 1922, of 150,000 Greeks from Turkey during anti-Hellenic pogroms in the 1950s, and of 200,000 Greeks from the north of Cyprus during Turkey's 1974 invasion.

* Mr. Klinghoffer reduces a complex but nevertheless tragic history of the severe victimization of Greek Orthodox Christians at the hands of the Ottoman and modern Turkish states into the mean-spirited indictment that "Greeks hate Turks". Mr. Klinghoffer appears unaware of the fact that Greece's thriving Muslim and Turkish minorities are enjoying greater religious, political and economic freedoms than their co-religionists in most other Balkan and Mideast countries, including in Muslim Turkey. Efforts by the Greek government to remedy discrimination against ethnic Turks have included economic development as well as affirmative action programs for university applicants, going a long way in explaining why Greece's Turks are among the most peaceable and politically stable minorities in the region despite efforts to incite unrest by the Turkish Government.

As for Mr. Klinghoffer's degradation of classical Greek civilization based on his sheer illiteracy of the subject matter he was writing on, The National Review has received letters from classics scholars, historians, and other people of knowledge and intelligence demonstrating just how superficial, uninformed and chauvinistic Mr. Klinghoffer's defamation of Greek culture was. It has been said that "it is almost universally conceded that the period from Pericles to Aristotle marked the highest point in human history in terms of pure intellectual achievement."

The question that must now be asked of your editorial staff is, why was a journalist allowed to write a review on a subject he was so clearly unfamiliar with, particularly when it amounted to a venomous attack against an ethnic group and its heritage? Had such a flagrantly hateful, misinformed and bigoted attack been directed against Jews, African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, Poles, Italians or any other group, conscientious individuals and organizations would be right to demand an apology and call for the author's resignation. We are asking for nothing less.

We demand a retraction and a written apology from The National Review, and we are further calling for David Klinghoffer to be dismissed from his post as Senior Editor. Your readers will be asked to cancel their subscription and boycott your publication, and all of your advertisers have been contacted and asked to withdraw their advertisements if The National Review does not remedy the offensive article accordingly.

Please feel free to contact me and inform me of any decisions made on this matter or to otherwise discuss this matter further. You will be contacted by July 1st in order that we may ascertain what action , if any, has been taken by The National Review. Upon receipt of this information, both the general public and your advertisers will be informed and any necessary appropriate action will be taken. Thank you for your consideration.

Very truly yours,

P. D. Spyropoulos, Esq.
Executive Director


+ "the Greeks [have] become a bad- mannered, misogynist, lazy, self-important fat bunch" The Sunday Times, 3/7/99.

"Keep your girlfriends away from Greeks because they walk up with their dirty open shirts, their gold jewelry hanging out, they put their hairy arms around your girlfriends and grab their breasts . . . all Greeks are con artists . . . all Greeks are scummy bastards." The Mancow Show (Chicago Radio Program), 3/24/99.

"[M]odern Greeks have little or nothing to do with the ancient Athenians [and] are largely of Turkish descent, as is shown by their short, hairy legs and low-slung bottoms". The Daily Telegraph, "Dome Says Everything", Auberon Waugh, 9/28/98.

"Poland and Hungary . . . could teach some valuable lessons . . . And not just to semi-civilized places like Greece". The New York Post, "Triumph of the Satellites", Editorial, 10/15/98.

"Israel knew . . . the kindling of a small Menorah that could banish the darkness of Greek culture. When that happened, it was time to celebrate . . . and know that we are grateful for the triumph of Torah's light over Greece's darkness." NY Post, "Understanding the Meaning of Chanukah", Special NY Post Chanukah Advertising Supplement, 12/16/97.

"The whole of Greece seemed to me . . . a place where you were harangued in a high-minded way about Ancient Greek culture while some swarthy little person picked your pocket . . . The Greeks were not Greek, but rather the illiterate descendants of Slavs and Albanian fishermen, who spoke a debased Greek dialect and had little interest in the broken columns and temples except as places to graze their sheep . . . Greece is the degraded fringe of Europe, basically a peasant society." The Pillars of Hercules, A Grand Tour of The Mediterranean, by Paul Theroux, pp. 314-316, 322, G. P. Putnam's Sons (1995).

"Why are we so reluctant to tell the quite simple truth about the Slavic wars--that is, to name the Eastern churches of Orthodox Christianity as partners in the near- genocide in Kosovo, as they were partners in the ethnic cleansing of Bosnia?" The New Republic, "Holy Wars", Martin Peritz, 5/10/99

"The petty squabble of Greece and Turkey, lining up warships around a pile of rocks off the Turkish coast, demonstrates that neither deserves membership in the European Union. Yet one is in and one is out . . . Yet how much more European could Turkey be? It was the home of Byzantium." The Baltimore Sun, 2/15/96.

Cc: Thomas L. Rhodes, President
Edward A. Capano, Publisher
William F. Buckley