Yesterday I finished a very good book, The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Safak. I very highly recommend it. (((I read the Kindle edition on my iPhone)))
Safak’s second novel written in English is The Bastard of Istanbul (a literal Turkish translation of the title would be “The Father and the Bastard”), which was the bestselling book of 2006 in Turkey. The novel brought Safak under prosecution by the Turkish government for “insulting Turkishness” under Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code. The charges stemmed from a statement made by a character in her novel, who characterized the massacres of Armenians in World War I as genocide.
In response, Safak noted that “the way ultranationalists are trying to penetrate the domain of art and literature is quite new, and quite disturbing.” The charges were ultimately dismissed.
Maybe you are wondering what connects this book to the above images I captured early on Friday Morning? The photographs were taken at the Santa Fe monument commemorating the internment of Japanese-Americans during WW2. (more info: Justice Department’s Prison Camp Remembered and Executive Order 9066)
I think there is this very interesting thing that happens with history… we have to remember, in order not to make the same mistake again and in order to gain perspective, but at the other end of that rememberence can lurk racism, among other dangers. I mean, one can’t seem to meet a person of Armenian heritage who doesn’t hate the Turkish without ever having known a Turk or ever having been there.
I want to remember those moments in our collective history:
the Armenian massacres in Turkey in 1915
the Nanjing massacre from 1937 (also known as the Rape of Nanking, it refers to a six-week period following the Japanese capture of the city of Nanjing (Nanking), the former capital of the Republic of China)
the holocaust in Germany 1938-1945
No, I am not going to list them all… it would take too many pages…
So, how do we hold this knowledge in our heart without letting it poison us… The unbearable lightness of being… Bearing witness without letting it stain any present or future relations. Difficult, for sure, but also important, I feel.
I also realize that these things are in our lives every single day. On a different scale, to be sure, but it shows in how we treat each other, how we think of one another.