American Hellenic Media Project
PO Box 1150
New York, NY 10028-0008
June 3, 1999
RE: Your advertisement in The National Review
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 ("Greek Tragedy", p. 64) has caused such alarm in the Hellenic community (see excerpts below).++
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 false 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 The National Review's 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.
Mr. Klinghoffer's assault of classical Greek civilization flies in the face of any credible scholarship on the topics he discussed and was clearly motivated by anti-Hellenic bigotry. 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 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 your company or organization 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 we launched a similar protest 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."
On or shortly before July 1st, we will contact you so that you may inform us of what actions you have taken (please provide a contact person for this purpose). If we are unable to ascertain any such information, we can only assume that you have not acted and will publicize your response as such (letters from you to The National Review encompassing the concerns and demands of this protest are greatly encouraged, can serve as a written record of your opposition to the sort of prejudice exemplified by Mr. Klinghoffer's review, and will be publicly posted). Your actions and the actions of the other advertisers will be widely publicized, and the public will be asked to boycott advertisers who have not participated, and asked to support advertisers who have.
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 will not tolerate bias and prejudice of any kind, but rather, will actively oppose it. Please do not hesitate to contact me so that we may discuss this matter freely or so that you may inform us of your actions in response to Mr. Klinghoffer's unconscionable declaration of misinformation, hatred and bigotry.
Very truly yours,
P. D. Spyropoulos, Esq.
+ "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.
++"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 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 . . . 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." The National Review, David Klinghoffer, "Greek Tragedy", 5/17/99.