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Douglas' American-meter
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-08-14 08:22:27
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Reading the other day how “confused” Kirk Douglas felt about the NY Mosque plans and his demand from all the Muslims to condemn the sort of terrorism that brought down the Twin Towers I fell to a series of thoughts that left me totally lost, dizzy and dramatically confused.

Its funny how the mind works sometimes, you start with Kirk Douglas, the Twin Towers, USA and you end up with your own country that you haven’t lived there for decades. The last couple of decades – and unfortunately it gets worst every year – I have the feeling that there is a meter somewhere that judges how much Greek you are and I just bring Greece as an example, there is an American-meter, a German-meter, an English-meter, a Chinese or Indian-meter. It seems that somehow you have constantly to say something that proves your patriotism and love for your country. I found out that as a Greek I have to say and write often that Macedonia is Greek and that the Great Alexander is Greek and by not doing that I put doubts on my Greek-meter and perhaps negative points.

First of all words are cheap as a very old saying goes but apart from that I’m very conscious and confident for my historical and national identity and that is not only something that comes from the millenniums historical background that naturally I grew up with but with facts history – in my case and Greek history fortunately international heritage and history – gave so unsparingly. Anybody can claim Great Alexander and they can call their central square Great Alexander and do whatever they like, in the end of the day everybody knows – and it is written in history’s blueprints and in people conscious – that Great Alexander was Greek.

If a tiny country in the Balkans wants to claim the names then they are the ones with the problem not me and that because they lack national and historical identity and they need to excuse their robbery with …words – I remind that words are cheap. After all these very same people have already claimed that Cleopatra had roots in Skopje making the whole globe smile with the overdose of stupidest. From my side, I have nothing to prove and nothing to say. Even their nationalistic and occasionally imperialistic dreams - again based in stolen words and names - seem so pathetic. While they are not even a country, literally trebling and balancing between economic catastrophes, ethnic troubles that could lead to a civil war and the worst of all been the centre of the human and drugs trafficking for all Europe. A state that hosts and feeds criminality dangerous for all Europe. So they can claim whatever they want; it wouldn’t surprise me if in the near future Ahmadinejad claims Great Alexander because he had a Persian wife. Then what? I will have to write and say three times a day that Great Alexander is not Persian to prove that I’m good Greek?

And that was just one little example with my compatriots, but similar things happening lately all around the world. In USA things – to my opinion – have gone totally out of control after the 9-11 events. Is like every single American and ally – this is how tragic it has gone – has to say three times a day, before every meal “Muslims are terrorists, I love America”, it is us and ...them! Is like there is an American-meter that counts how much you love your country on how many times you say it and how many stickers you have stuck in the back of your car.

I’m not here to defend the Muslims; I’m here to defend their right to practice their religion. I’m an atheist, I never hidden it and I write about it often without trying to persuade anybody to follow, just accept that this is me and respect it. And yes I’m getting angry because in Afghanistan this moment to hold a bible it can be a reason for an execution, in Iran the reason for torture and imprisonment or in Sudan for an immediate death. I’m getting angry when I hear that the idea of a church – any Christian church – is something constitutionally not accepted and illegal in Saudi Arabia and that the Christians of Iraq – a tragic minority – are still outcast and discriminated and we are talking about a country where the people have suffered for decades only discrimination.

Christians have done unbelievable crimes during the centuries in the name of Christ. During the Greek dictatorship – to bring another example from my country and more contemporary – the ruthless dictators, the very same regime that killed and send to exile a big part of the population found the greatest support in Greek Orthodox Church. Does that make the faith criminal? The Vatican during the WWII played a really controversy role and the full truth has still to come, does that make my grandmother’s faith criminal?

But most of all, how can we demand respect when we are not able to offer respect? Nobody said that we have to read the Koran; nobody said that we have to go to a mosque but we have to show respect to people's faith. Period! This way we don’t only show respect to their faith but we also show respect to humanity as a whole, accept the different that makes us a society and oddly it is the American society that knows a lot of different.

An American example; who’s better for the American image from Cassius Clay? The all American symbol. The man was a proud American all the way, and he didn’t hide it. On the contrary he made sure everybody knew. And then he became Muhammad Ali a Muslim. Did that make him less American? Did that take from him his historical and national identity? I doubt if it change anything. He actually even protested openly and very loud against the Vietnam War. Did that make him less idol for the American youth? Even today posters of the great man decorate teenagers’ rooms all around the world and nobody absolutely nobody ever doubted for his American identity.

So according this American-meter – obviously Mr. Kirk Douglas is carrying around – is Muhammad Ali less American now or its alright with him because he doesn’t have Middle East looks, beard and his name is not Bin Laden? But now we are going to new level, aren’t we? And the game is called racism something Americans try hard to leave behind them and exclude from their national and historical identity as a black hole.

Mr. Kirk Douglas during his pick as a successful actor played in a lot of war films especially WWII films, unfortunately he didn’t learn that the war didn’t start with the landing in Normandy but it had started long time before and unfortunately it started with a lot of people carrying a Nazi-meter doing crimes beyond human acceptance. So Mr. Douglas and all the Mr. and Mrs. Douglases of this world have better start checking their hearts and minds before checking their American or whatever meter. Now after all that if you still feel confused …welcome to the club!

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Emanuel Paparella2010-08-14 16:50:14
Was not Kirk Douglas an immigrant himself, if I remember correctly. Indeed, Thanos, it makes no sense...to go around chauvinistically beating one's chest and proclaiming nationalism which has produced so many wars and man made disasters.

On the mosques controversy, Tom Friedman wrote a piece recently reflecting on the fact that while in Saudi Arabia they do not allow the contruction of churches because they are Saudi Arabia, and in Switzerland minarets are now outlawed, in America we should allow the erecting of mosques and churches and sinagogues because we are America and proclaim both separation of religion and state and freedom of religion. I say Ameen to that!

Emanuel Paparella2010-08-14 16:52:38
Correction: Amen.

Emanuel Paparella2010-08-14 16:55:51
Anther follow-up: actually the immigrants were his parents who were Jews who emigrated from Russia and whose last name was not Douglas but Danielovitch.

Eva2010-08-14 17:28:40
Brilliant article!

Thanos2010-08-14 17:47:46
I'm afraid Emanuel that we are becoming "endangered species" and the ones with the ...meters become more and more.

Coming now to America sometimes I'm seriously wander if the people in USA have every read the US constitution which to my opinion is one of the best democratic blueprints in modern world.

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