I like to move about, as you will, no doubt, notice. This morning I decided to post the review I wrote here about “Black Athena” on amazon.com. Once I had done that, I went back to the site to read what others had written, and that is what inspired to following piece.
One must make sure they have cover when roaming the comments of this section—
What with all the spears being hurled into the air, there is a real danger of being struck down, and who wants that?
Originally I published the review that follows, prior to reading the comments. Then I went about my business, shopped at the Farmer’s Market in my neighborhood, before returning to this page to read the comments of others.
I found myself saying…
“You know, there are a few more things I could add to the discussion here—
Especially after taking in the shots being exchanged by certain individuals.”
Let’s talk about racism first.
Now while most people who think of the word instinctively spring to the conclusion that it is exclusively associated with those who are of African descent, the overall concept can apply to other cultures and races, as well. And since, Martin Bernal has started this kick of Let’s Attack The Greeks, why don’t we begin there.
If anybody knows anything about the History of Modern Greece, following the Classical period—If I may be allowed to nurture such a classification… Not sure with all the experts here—through today, one will see that Greece is not merely favored for its warmth as a vacation spot, it is also highly favored for invasions by other cultures, and attempted domination, which in the end usually fail.
One will recall the near 400-year occupation by The Ottoman Empire, lifted by rebels in 1821, during which attempts to squash the civilization altogether ultimately failed, and its freedom as a country was once again assured—for a while, at least. If one cares to look closely they may find that what Greeks experienced during that occupation was similar to the Slave movement in the United States. Limited rights, limited access to education, furtive access to religious freedom, and an overall imposition of hush, hush. In other words, no right to defend their country or culture against whatever deals the Ottomans made with other cultures, the most vivid example being the looting of the Parthenon Marbles by Elgin, a British subject. Powerless, in other words.
And now that Greece has become the Poster Child of Monetary Ills Today, and once again fashionable, one can hop over to nytimes.com comments section and find plenty of epithets hurled at Greeks of today, following their coverage of the economic crises in Greece. That, too, is racist. It is part of the public domain, documented there.
So racism is not the exclusive territory of people of African descent, although they have no doubt bore the brunt of it, and therefore are closely aligned to the word.
Next, there is someone here who has not yet published a review of their own—but perhaps I just haven’t gotten to it yet, since after reading 4 pages of reviews, I found I had reached my quota for conflict today, and decided to take a break—who has gone to a great deal of trouble to analyze the statistics of the reviews here, who published what, and most importantly, the value of the “thumbs-up” people gave reviews that rated the book as deserving no more than 2 stars. In addition, this person has lashed out at people for their ignorance and insensitivity and has somehow determined that people who only publish a few lines about the book are mere charlatans, and not worthy of any recognition or merit for what they think.
I find this highly disturbing.
And a bit elitist, if I may say so.
While it is one thing to point out flaws in people’s arguments or positions, it is quite different to lash out at them for not being “learned.” As though that is some special territory which depends on a foundation based on academic consumption, and only those who possess it are worthy of saying anything valuable, or being recognized. A bit strange. Because as it is quite evident here, there are plenty of schooled and learned people who have their own interpretation of history, etc., and there is still plenty of conflict and confusion present. So there seems to be nothing wrong with saying what you think, and as far as I know, there are no space requirements to be met before your thoughts are determined to have any value.
As I’ve already mentioned below, I have not completed the volume, and I stopped by here, simply to post my impressions thus far. And I just want to add a few more here, especially now that I am inspired by the lively conversation on these pages.
Bernal, indeed, seems hasty to trash the contribution of Greek culture, and at every turn I’ve seen so far, he makes no bones about it.
However, let us think this through more carefully.
Linguistics is not my field, so whatever he does there with his magic wand, I follow only somewhat.
What he says is plausible.
That one commenter also mentioned several times that the origin of the Greek language is 50% of another language(s).
What exactly is the point, however?
Is it recognition, illumination, acceptance, knowledge?
At the risk of tampering with Bernal’s model, is there nothing constructive to be said about the development of a language (regardless of its origins) that produced works that many believe valuable? And furthermore, although I am not a linguist—nor do I think one needs to be, to see this—there is an ample supply of words embedded in the English language that are directly borrowed from Greek. No escaping that fact, boys and girls.
Greek came from such and such dialects and cultures. Curious though. Why did Bernal not choose to write his book using hieroglyphics? If he really wants to demonstrate the significance of the Egyptians, then he should use the language they used. But he does not. In fact, many of the words he uses to describe his position are directly borrowed from Greek. And in order to maintain coherence, he uses names traditionally associated with Greek divinities, for example, while explaining the source of their origin and inspiration. This further makes me question his motives. He seems somewhat duplicitous in his management of information. In addition, when you employ as your scholarly device the trashing of one civilization to bolster your argument, it seems your credibility is diminished.
And, finally, Mr. Bernal seems to be suffering from a good old case of hubris!
Anyway, I am going to shell the peas I bought at the Farmer’s Market today, and prepare a sumptuous vegetarian meal.
I’ve had enough meat for one day.