Please find below important material concerning our request that you participate in an e-mail protest in response to Senior Editor David Klinghoffer's shocking attack of Greeks and their heritage in The National Review:
(1) Brief Introduction;
(2) Excerpts from Klinghoffer's Article;
(3) Brief Instructions and Protest Material;
(2) Excerpts from Klinghoffer's Article;
(3) Brief Instructions and Protest Material;
(4) Further Advertiser and Publisher Contact Information; and
(5) Three Letters in Response
(5) Three Letters in Response
(1) Brief Introduction
Greek-Americans, Orthodox Christians, 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 history, to outright racist slurs and attacks. As one knowledgeable commentator put it, these "add up to a wholesale assault on Greece's legacy to the West."
Join us in declaring that "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH" and take a stand against intolerance, bigotry and misinformation in our media. The time is long overdue for all of us to rise in a collective voice and let our media establishment know that we are no longer going to stay silent while our heritage is robbed from us, while our religion is denigrated and while we are systematically singled out and dehumanized.
Join us in protesting against an article by David Klinghoffer that appeared in the influential conservative weekly The National Review on May 17, 1999, by following the brief instructions below. The most important feature of this protest is that we are not simply protesting to The National Review, we are contacting all of its advertisers and making sure that they take their fair share of the responsibility in remedying Mr. Klinghoffer's unconscionable article.
You may choose to participate only in the e-mail protest, which can be completed in less than a minute, or you may invest a little more time to call, fax or write to The National Review's advertisers. Within about a month's time the American Hellenic Media Project will report to you which organizations and companies did take action, which did not, and what further action you can take in response. We will also notify you of any action taken by The National Review.
This is an important and singular opportunity for you to not only join us in taking a stand against the shocking increase in anti-Hellenic bias and misinformation, but to educate the general public about this alarming and decidedly un-American trend by our media establishment. Please take a brief moment now to participate in this protest by starting in section "(3)" below. Stand up to anti-Hellenic bias in the media. With your participation we will get results.
(2) Excerpts from Klinghoffer's Article
THE NATIONAL REVIEW
May 17, 1999
by David Klinghoffer
"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 . . . The period under consideration [in the N.Y. Metropolitan art exhibit] is the sixth to fourth centuries B.C., when Greek art was basically about two things: death and drinking . . . the Greeks can seem 'lacking in the awareness of mystery and in the ability to penetrate to the deeper, less conscious levels of human experience.' [A] defense of the Greeks against the charge of shallowness tends to be undermined by looking at their artistic and literary remains . . . What's absent from Greek art is a dark side-the recognition that life is transcendently confusing and painful . . . If you don't think the Greeks were a little shallow, then read their plays. Greek tragedy . . . is so muffled in verbiage that a good paragraph-long summary of a play by Aeschylus is often more haunting than the play itself. The playwright seems to be interested mainly in dazzling you with literary virtuosity. Smugness is the dominant impression left by Greek drama.
Greek philosophy, too. Even Socrates sounds smug in his famous declaration that he's wiser than everyone else because he knows that he knows nothing. He taught Plato, who taught Aristotle, whose work reads like the monologue of someone who's very smart but a very, very fast talker. He talks so fast that you can't possibly follow all the logical leaps-by the end of which he's proved that the happiest man is the philosopher, and therefore that he and his philosopher pals are dearest to the gods. . . . . . One of the most charming of the Met's kraters [is] like a candid photo from a fifth-century sorority party.
Greeks used these objects for the event called a Symposium, a fussy sort of drinking party where men lay around on couches sipping wine. The wine had been mixed with water, according to a precise ratio, in a krater. As they drank, they philosophized. Tipsy Greek guys, all under the heady impression that by the time the krater is empty they will have cleared up the mysteries of life: This is Greek culture. . . . . . Periodically, we're reminded that the ancient Greeks don't even have identifiable descendants. Each time modern Greece demands that England return Lord Elgin's marbles to the Parthenon, it is pointed out in response that these Greeks are not the children of the Greeks of Plato's day . . . From the 15th century on, Greece belonged to Ottoman Turkey. Today, Greeks are Turks.
. . . the ancient Greeks were marked for extinction. When the Met's Greek collection was entombed under New York soot, their story went unnoticed. Exposed to sunlight, it's sadder than any play by Aeschylus.
Mr. Klinghoffer, an NR senior editor, is author of 'The Lord Will Gather Me In: My Journey to Jewish Orthodoxy'."
(3) Brief Instructions and Protest Material
A. E-MAIL PROTEST TO THE NATIONAL REVIEW
1. Create a new e-mail and copy and paste the below National Review e-mail addresses in the "to:" section:
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Write in a subject heading of your own choice
3. Copy and paste the below protest letter onto the body of your new e-mail (and/or write your own protest letter). Note that the below letter begins and ends with a line of asterisks:
RE: David Klinghoffer's May 17th review, "Greek Tragedy"
To The National Review:
Greek-Americans, Orthodox Christians, Armenians and Hellenes all over the world, and people of good conscience have become alarmed at the intensifying attacks against Greeks and their heritage by our nation's 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, in an affront to 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 assault of classical Greek civilization based on his sheer illiteracy of the subject matter he was writing on, we are aware that 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. Suffice it to say 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 where 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 dismissal. 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's resignation from his post as Senior Editor. We are aware that your readers will be asked to cancel their subscription and boycott your publication, and that your advertisers have been contacted and will be asked to withdraw any future advertisements, if The National Review does not remedy the offensive article accordingly. Thank you for your consideration on this matter and we will be closely following your and your advertisers' responses.
Very truly yours,
+ "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.
4. Write your name after "Very truly yours," towards the end of the letter, and add any further comments at the top of your e-mail so that they may be read first. Send the e-mail.
5. Forward this protest to at least five (5) friends, colleagues or other concerned individuals, and also forward it to any local or regional Hellenic, Armenian or other organizations, newspapers, radio and TV programs and other relevant media outlets. A text and a Word 7.0 file of this protest has been attached to this e-mail.
B. E-MAIL PROTEST TO ADVERTISERS
1. Create a second new e-mail and key in email@example.com in the "to:" section. Copy and paste the below e-mail addresses (of the companies and organizations that advertised in the May 17th issue of The National Review) in the "bcc:" (blind carbon copy) section of your new e-mail. (Note: most of the pharmaceutical companies whose e-mails are included below were not advertisers but are supporters of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which was an advertiser):
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com; Jan.Leschly@sb.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; Alex.Krauer@group.novartis.com; Daniel.Vasella@group.novartis.com; Alexandre.Jetzer@group.novartis.com; Ingrid.Duplain@group.novartis.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; Shedlarz@pfizer.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; FoxInternational@msn.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; Tom_Malone@milliken.com; email@example.com
2. Write in a subject heading of your own choice
3. Copy and paste the below protest letter onto the body of your new e-mail (and/or write your own protest letter). Note that the letter begins and ends with a line of asterisks:
Dear Sir or Madam:
Pleased be advised that your advertisement in the May 17th issue of The National Review appeared with the publication of a racist article by Senior Editor David Klinghoffer singling out and attacking an ethnic group.
Greek-Americans, Orthodox Christians, Armenians and Hellenes all over the world, and people of good conscience have become alarmed at the intensifying attacks against Greeks and their heritage by our nation's media establishment. These have ranged from disinformation regarding contemporary geopolitical issues, to the distortion of Greek history, to outright slurs and verbal pogroms. It is within this disturbing environment that David Klinghoffer's magnum opus of anti-Hellenic bigotry has caused such alarm in the Hellenic 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 afforded 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. David Klinghoffer has brazenly crossed this line and has violated the most basic tenets of journalistic integrity, ethics, and professional responsibility.
While we are appreciative of the fact that your company or organization was in no way responsible for Mr. Klinghoffer's invective, you do have a responsibility to inform The National Review that you will not allow your advertising dollars to be used to subsidize racism and bigotry.
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.
The article in question has created an international uproar not only among people of Hellenic heritage, but among classics scholars, academics, students, teachers and people of conscience and good will. Yet this call to action is not just about Mr. Klinghoffer's racist invective. It is about taking a stand against an intensifying trend of singling out and denigrating Greeks, their religion, their history, and their very heritage.
We are appealing to you to send a clear message to The National Review that you oppose the sort of hateful and misinformed bias embodied in Mr. Klinghoffer's article, and that you will pull any and all advertisements in their periodical unless: (i) The National Review issues an apology and retraction; and (ii) David Klinghoffer is dismissed from his position as Senior Editor.
When a similar protest was launched last year opposing the production of a propaganda film promoting genocide denial and the glorification of Turkey's first dictator, thousands participated and the protest was covered internationally in newspapers, periodicals and news networks such as CNN. The protest resulted in the leading actor, Antonio Banderas, withdrawing from the role after learning of "how many [people] Ataturk had killed, kids he had sodomized."
We have been informed that we will be contacted with a report of your actions with regard to The National Review's unconscionable publication of Mr. Klinghoffer's article, and that such results will be widely publicized. We are resolved to boycott all of your products and services if you fail to acknowledge your critical responsibility as advertiser and fail to oppose this expression of ethnic bias and unethical journalism. We are also resolved to applaud and fully support you and your products and services if your company or organization acts conscientiously and responsibly in opposing Mr. Klinghoffer's declaration of misinformation, hatred and bigotry.
This is not only an opportunity to do the right thing, but a unique opportunity to let your consumers, patrons and supporters know that your company or organization will not tolerate bias or prejudice of any kind in our media, but rather, will actively oppose it.
As Ethiopian leader Haile Selassie declared before the United Nations General Assembly on October 4, 1963: "Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, and the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most that has made it possible for evil to triumph." Please join us in taking a principled stand against expressions of bigotry, racial hatred and disinformation in one of the foundational pillars of American democracy: our press and media.
Very truly yours,
4. Write your name at the end of the letter after "Very truly yours,", and add any further comments at the top of your e-mail so that they may be read first. Send the e-mail.
Note: It's important to keep in mind that these advertisers are not responsible for Mr. Klinghoffer's article, and so you should communicate with them in as civil and courteous a manner as possible. Many of these companies have programs that emphasize social consciousness, charity work, and efforts to combat discrimination and would not support the sort of bias espoused by Mr. Klinghoffer. Once notified however, NR's advertisers do have a dual responsibility (i) not to advertise in periodicals that feature articles that promote bigotry and attack a specific racial, religious or ethnic group; and (ii) to contact such a periodical and inform them that their organization or company does not tolerate such attacks and will not subsidize prejudice and bigotry. You must let them know that not taking such a stand means that they are in effect ratifying Mr. Klinghoffer's positions.
(4) Further Advertiser and Publisher Contact Information
We all know from experience that just a little extra effort can often make a big difference in end results. Please find below available telephone numbers, fax numbers, and postal addresses of The National Review's advertisers for you to further amplify your voice and emphasize the importance of this issue to you, and why it should also be important to them. The order of significance should be calling as many advertisers as you can by telephone first, then faxing, and finally sending the above protest letter by regular mail. Below you will also find telephone and fax information for The National Review.
National Review contact information:
THE NATIONAL REVIEW
215 Lexington Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10016
The list of advertisers and their available contact information:
Cultural Affairs Dept.
PHILIP MORRIS COMPANIES INC.
120 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017
PHARMACEUTICAL RESEARCH AND MANUFACTURERS OF AMERICA
PHILLIPS PETROLEUM COMPANY
NUCLEAR ENERGY INSTITUTE
932 South Avenue
Westfield, NJ 07090
Customer Support Team International Tel: 508766-1099, 508-820-3465
Office Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30AM-9:00PM, Sat 9:00AM-5:00PM (EST)
EDISON ELECTRIC INSTITUTE
MILLIKEN/KEX (textiles, message mats, chemicals)
YOUNG AMERICANS FOUNDATION
NATIONAL GOLF CENTER
HISTORY BOOK CLUB
COMMON SENSE FOR DRUG POLICY
THE KAUFMANN FUND
T. ROWE PRICE DIVIDEND GROWTH FUND
GRAMERCY PARK HOTEL
800-221-4083 (out of NY state)
THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY INN
RISTORANTE FIOR D'ITALIA
601 Union Street
San Francisco, CA 94133
9393 North 90th Street, Suite 102127
Scotsdale, AZ 85258
FOX INTERNATIONAL, INC. FINE ART
RICHLEE SHOE COMPANY
P.O. Box 3566
Frederick, MD 21705
(5) Three Letters in Response
LETTER 1: A Reply to David Klinghoffer of "The National Review" by classics Professor Victor D. Hansen, author of "Who Killed Homer?":
Mr. Klinghoffer's caricature of modern and ancient Greece might be humorous if it were not so absurd. Aside from his erroneous idea that Hellenism on the Greek mainland has no cultural continuity from antiquity to the present day-the modern Greek language, many contemporary Hellenic religious and social practices, and the sheer number of brilliant modern Greek Nobel Prize winners, poets, novelists, composers, and artisans prove otherwise-Mr. Klinghoffer also makes some astoundingly wrong assertions about Greek art.
Ancient Greek art was not "basically about two things: death and drinking." The great masterpieces of Hellenic artistic work such as the bronze charioteer from Delphi, the Panathenaic processions on the Parthenon marbles, or Praxiteles' Hermes with the infant Dionysus celebrate life, whether that be victory in competitive sport, civic festivals, or the miracle of birth. Greek sculpture, which was usually brightly painted, often integral to architecture, and sometimes inscribed, is hardly "strangely calm." Klinghoffer may find the gravestones--not normally a medium associated with merriment--currently on display at the New York Metropolitan museum "calm," in which "nobody appears to be grieving" and no one "even look[s] each other in the eye," but even here most art historians would strongly disagree about the genre of Greek funeral relief in general. Consider the gravestone of Ampharete from the Kerameikos Museum in Athens, who stares dumbstruck with emotion into the eyes of her dead baby granddaughter, while holding a pet bird, or the inscribed black limestone funerary relief of the Thespian hoplite Saugenes on display in the Theban museum, who, with broken weapons on the ground, makes one final jab for his life. Indeed, so extravagant and intricate were the sculptures erected for the dead at Athens that the democracy finally had to pass sumptuary laws to prevent families from bankrupting themselves in paying for commemoration of their lost ones.
No serious student of the Greeks could ever believe that there was not in the Hellenic experience a recognition of a "dark side-the acknowledgment that life is transcendently confusing and painful," much less that the Greeks were "a little shallow," and "indifferent to death." The very words "tragedy," Mr. Klinghoffer's much touted "mystery," as well as "agony," "drama," and "pathos" are all Greek vocabulary, whose equivalents did not exist as abstract concepts in other ancient languages of the Mediterranean-and, if the present-day ubiquity of their usage throughout the world is any guide, very few modern languages as well.
Klinghoffer believes that "absent from Greek art is a dark side-the recognition that life is transcendently confusing and painful." But even a quick examination of 500 years of Greek art reveals precisely the opposite impression. The monstrously hideous Gorgon from archaic Syracuse, cradling her child-horse Pegasus, the Hellenistic Laocoon, caught with his two sons in the coils of a deadly snake, and the dying Gaul at Pergamum, who is portrayed stabbing himself in the neck as he supports the lifeless body of his dead wife, all reflect that the Greeks were quite aware that the ugly and evil were not all that distant from the sleek and good, that the innocent and young can die horribly for no apparent reason, and the nominally "other" can reveal a nobility equal to-or greater than-our own. Indeed, "painful" and "confusing" are precisely the words that come to mind when viewing Greek art.
Klinghoffer's characterization of Greek tragedy and philosophy is equally hilarious. The flippant dismissal of Aeschylus as one-dimensionally bombastic is but a rehash of Aristophanes' hyperbole; and to imply that his tragedies ("Prometheus" or "Eumenides"?) are "muffled in verbiage" is not to have read any, in Greek or English. Socrates never said that he was wiser than everyone else, but rather reported that the oracle at Delphi proclaimed him as such. Far from being "smug," Socrates risked his life on three occasions in battle, refused to break the law to execute others in the aftermath of the sea-battle of Arginusae, or to recant and thus save himself at his own trial; in contrast, he spent his adult life exposing sophists, rhetoricians, and the powerful, famous, and wealthy who really were "smug." The extant corpus of Aristotle derives from his lecture notes; unlike the elegant literary dialogues of Plato, much of his work was not intended for publication. Yet he never declares the happiest man to be the philosopher, but rather in his _Ethics_ the "megalopsychos"-the rare individual from any walk of life who shows temperance in all facets of conduct. How wrong of Klinghoffer to suggest Aristotle championed himself "and his pals," when he is explicit that contemplation alone does not bring virtue, but rather deeds must match abstraction-the man of action, not the mere philosopher, is Aristotle's truly virtuous person.
Leo Strauss wrote some intriguing things about Plato and Thucydides, but his essay on Jerusalem and Athens is one of his weakest. How silly to confuse ritual with belief by implying that revelation of a particular Greek mystery cult meant that "there was no mystery." Initiates blabbed all the time, but that did not stop the Greeks from being fascinated and terrified by just those natural phenomena that they could not explain empirically-such as the change of seasons, the secret behind birth, death, and renewal, and the wonder of agricultural transformation from seed to plant. Indeed, what is fascinating about the Greek religious experience is precisely its mystical nature amid a growing enlightenment: few cultures, ancient or modern, have so carefully acknowledged the primacy of reason, while at the same time setting off inexplicable areas of human experience that demand faith, belief, and sheer wonder. The continuance of just such cults to Demeter-Kore, Adonis, Dionysus and others through centuries of the sophists, the Olympians, and Christianity alike attests to the inherent Greek fascination with the inexplicable and the need to honor it as such.
The symposium may have been aristocratic and limited to males-most drinking parties in the ancient world were-and it may have had elements of pretension inherent in it, but discussing the "mysteries of life" at dinner surely beats a nocturnal Roman food orgy like the Satyricon or an evening with Pharaoh and his sister in Memphis. From the symposia I've read about, very few guests felt that they had cleared up anything at dinner's end, but often went away as curious as when they arrived.
The ancient Greeks were hubristic? How a poor culture in the southern Balkans of not more than two to three million could defeat an empire of seventy million seems more astonishing than hubristic-Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis, and Plataea revealed courage not arrogance. Hubris was a word invented by the Greeks more as a proscriptive than descriptive term. And so Hesiod, the lyric poets, and the three great tragedians wrote far more often about hubris to warn the Greeks in their success than to describe them in their decline.
The ancient Greeks are hardly dead, so Mr. Klinghoffer need not shed crocodile tears of condolence. Most of what we now hold dear in the West-constitutional government, rationalism, free inquiry in a secular society, abstract and legal ideas of freedom and individualism, capitalism and free market economies, private property and a host of other protocols-derive from the polis Greeks. And these ideas were drawn upon in the last two millennia by the Romans, the Church, universities, and Western popular culture at large any time men and women of ideas and reason wished to frame laws, build with science and spirit, contemplate the heavens, or capture the human experience in art or literature-as the history of Christianity, the Renaissance, the European Enlightenment, and the Founding Fathers attests.
The final irony in Mr. Klinghoffer's flawed analysis? While much of the West has also been influenced by the ethical system of the Jews, Jewish culture itself in exile from the Middle East survived in large part precisely because of those traditions it adopted from the western side of the Aegean. What makes the modern secular state of Israel so impressive is not just its religion, language, and its Hasidic and orthodox elements, as much its constitutional government, the secular nature of its culture, its tolerance for free exchange of religious and political ideas, its scientific brilliance, and its embrace of market capitalism-a secular island of rationalism, pluralism, and democracy in a surrounding sea of theocracy, socialism, tribalism, and tyranny-but one made possible only by the embrace of Western ideas that were brought to the Middle East by a brilliant generation of post-war European refugees, who were as Hellenic as they were Jewish.
Professor Victor D. Hansen
LETTER 2: A Reply by David Dubnau:
To the editor:
I was amazed by David Klinghoffer's article in which he ridicules Greece and Greeks, present and past. Let me hasten to add that I am not Greek and therefore cannot be accused of acting from reflexive nationalism.
It is extraordinary that the culture that Klinghoffer dismisses as "a little shallow" has had such a lasting and profound influence throughout the ages. It is equally remarkable that the "smug" Socrates and Aeschylus, as well as Aristotle (whom Klinghoffer admittedly does not understand, but trashes nevertheless) have been so influential. I suppose that means that all of us who admire Greek culture are also a little shallow. This applies to most European scholars of the last several centuries. We are indebted to the brilliant and perceptive Klinghoffer for indirectly pointing out our inadequacy.
Probably the greatest Klinghofferian contribution is this: "For all their self-confidence and reasonableness, the ancient Greeks were marked for extinction." It had never occurred to me that unlike the ancient British, Germans, Italians and Jews, the ancient Greeks were no longer alive. Or perhaps he meant to say that the Greeks are unique in not being genetically identical today and two thousand years ago, unlike all those other exclusively inbred peoples. Either interpretation represents a truly startling insight.
Thank you David Klinghoffer. I have rarely been so entertained! I must cancel my subscription to Mad Magazine and subscribe to The National Review.
New York, NY
[Note: Mr. Dubnau's letter was published in the Letters section of The National Review's June 14th issue along with a letter from classics scholar and author Mary Lefkowitz]
LETTER 3: A Reply by historian and publisher Aristide D. Caratzas:
I would like to assume that publication of the article by David Klinghoffer ("Art: Greek Tragedy," May 17, 1999) does not signal an editorial turn of direction by "The National Review." I have been reading the magazine intermittently for about thirty-five years, usually looking forward to its trashing of leftist cliches. It always represented a lively intellectual antidote, counterposing as it did to Marxist teleological nihilism ideas about freedom and the centrality of man, drawn from the political philosophy and religiosity of the west. Was there ever a question that these had the Greeks at their foundation?
Suddenly, "The National Review" finds itself on the same side with those leftist radicals who ten years ago, in order to undermine the western tradition, trashed the ancient Greeks by denying their genius. In works such as _Stolen Legacy and Black Athena_, the Greeks were simplistically portrayed as mountebanks and impostors who had stolen their learning from Africa and/or the Semitic peoples. "The New Republic" had reported during the late 80s that in an educators' conference some of these radical Greek-bashers excoriated Plato and Aristotle more than Reagan and Bush...
Now, Mr. Klinghoffer in a few paragraphs, some facile turns of phrase and with the blinders borne of religious fundamentalism, dismisses Greek culture in its entirety as "shallow" (sic). Such over-reaching polemic is only understandable in the context of the Jewish people's ambivalence regarding Hellenism. The impact of Greek culture on the Jews was so overwhelming that it changed the nature of their very identity forever. Large numbers of Jews became Greek-speaking, many adopting with that language the forms of thought and universalist attitudes characteristic of Hellenism. The Jewish holy books were translated into Greek to accommodate the increasing numbers of exclusively Greek-speaking Jews, while some of the most defining institutions of Judaism (rabbi= didaskalos, the synagogue, talmudic scholarship) were seminally affected by their contact with the Greek thought-world.
Since the time of the Maccabean zealot rebellion some Jews have felt that the weight of Hellenic culture was a threat to their world-view. Whatever the case, a far greater number of Jewish scholars through the ages have used Greek learning with the respect accruing to the world's first universal civilization. Their work has contributed to the sum of western learning. The gratuitous swipe at the modern descendants of the Greeks ("the ancient Greeks don't even have identifiable descendants," "these [modern] Greeks are not the children of the Greeks of Plato's day") is both ignorant and nasty. What are "identifiable descendants?" Does Mr. Klinghoffer require blood, DNA or other racial tests in order for the modern Greeks to claim their inheritance?
Those of us who define ourselves as Greek today, besides speaking the language which is the linear descendant of that spoken by Plato and Aristotle (the fast talker), identify with our history and traditions. With regard to the latter we are not unlike the Jews, the other peoples for whom, together with the Chinese, history constitutes an axis of identity. By way of an afterword: The historian in me bristles at the mistakes Mr. Klinghoffer makes in his effort to identify us Greeks with the Turks. First, the invasions of Greece by various barbarian peoples began in the 3rd century (not the 7th): the Heruls sacked the Acropolis of Athens in AD 263, while there followed invasions by the Huns in the 4th c., the Slavs in the 5-6th, the Avars in the 6th, Arabs in the 7th and so on. The (Seljuk) Turks began to make inroads into Greek cultural space in the 11th c., while the Ottomans established themselves in Asia Minor (today, Turkey) in the early 14th c. It is interesting to note that modern historical scholarship (reinforced by, yes, genetic research) considers that the actual change of the biological (human) stratum as a result of the invasions was much less throughout Europe than originally thought by the racialist historians of the 19th century. In the case of the Greeks, genetic markers are (statistically) basically little changed over the last 5-6 millennia, according to the work of biologist Cavalli-Sforza.
Indeed the argument can be made that the reverse of Mr. Klinghoffer's assertion is more likely to be true: a modern-day Turk is much more likely to have descended from Greeks, than the reverse. In the western part of Turkey much of the population partly descends from Greek and Anatolian peoples. The 14th century Osmali Turk mercenaries and raiders in Asia Minor were very few in number, having virtually no women in their midst. They brought a cultural change in the area by the imposition of Islam, the forced abduction of women and children, persecutions of all kinds, as well as by other less drastic policies. It was far less likely that a Muslim would turn Christian (the penalty was/is death) than the reverse.
Mr. Klinghoffer's piece was unfortunate. I would hope he has it in him to accept this. "The National Review" owes to its readers not promote ignorance and bigotry or to demean the sources of the very civilization from which it has drawn during its life.
Aristide D. Caratzas