"The whole of Greece seemed to me a cut-price theme park of broken marble, 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 th e 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 . . . the Greeks struck me as being more xenophobic than the French , and more ill-tempered and irrational, in a country more backward than Croatia. . . . . . More than any other place I had seen so far on the Mediterranean, Greece was purely a tourist destination, a theme park of shattered marble and broken statues, and garbled history. But tourists did not really go to Greece for the history; they went for t he sunshine . . . " The Pillars of Hercules, A Grand Tour of The Mediterranean, by Paul Theroux, pp. 314-316, 322, G. P. Putnam's Sons (1995).
"The inhabitants of Athens or Sparta today have no more in common with Pericles and Leonidas than do contemporary Italians with Marcus Aurelius; indeed, rather less . . . a correspondent [once] proposed that the re-establishment of a British protectorate over Corfu should be the price of [the Elgin Marbles'] return. That is too low; but what if we were to talk of Greece having to leave the European Union?" The Daily Telegraph, Leading Article, 4/3/96.
"The brilliant general and statesman Mustafa Kamel [sic], Ataturk . . . did much to turn Turkey toward the West: changing the alphabet from Arab to Roman, [and] abolishing the Greek fez". Time, Country Profile/Advertisement, 10/30/95.
"Insofar as an exhibition can assemble great sculpture and have practically no scholarly value, ['The Greek Miracle: Classical Sculpture from The Dawn of Democracy', an art exhibition touring the U.S.] does. The reason is that The Greek Miracle is an exer cise in political propaganda . . . The Greeks, by contrast, stop short of turning into marble statues of themselves(effigies of undying self- congratulation Time, 1/11/93.
"[T]he rulers of the Ottoman Empire, a very diverse and sophisticated class . . . were the inheritors of the culture and political structure of the Byzantine Empire. This background helps explain Turkey's political stability as well as its reputation as one of the most Western-oriented countries within the Muslim world." The Harvard Gazette, 3/9/95.
"Turkey is a treasure house of literature and culture - a microcosm of the history of mankind, beginning with Xerxes, Alexander the Great, the Caesars . . . thus, Turkish literature sprang from roots as varied as Plato, Persian epics, Arab verses, and lat er French and European novelists." NY Times, from a Mobil Oil ad on an Op Ed page, '94.
"It is all immoral and impracticable. The Greeks are getting too much!" NY Times Op Ed comprised entirely of excerpts from the diary of the misograecist British diplomat Harold Nicholson regarding the Treaty of Sevres (a treaty that readers were not info rmed had been superseded by the far less favorable Treaty of Lausanne), 6/15/94.
"a settlement of the Cyprus issue would remove the one clear and present excuse for a Greek veto on [EU admission for] Turkey . . . The passionate objections of Greece [to EU membership for Turkey] will never vanish entirely, because too many shapeless fears lie behind them." The Economist, "A Survey of Turkey: Star of Islam", 12/14/91.
"American soldiers [stationed in FYROM] have, in effect, become hostages of the White House's concerns with the Greek lobby . . . placing the troops at greater risk of finding themselves in the middle of war." NY Times, 9/4/94.
"Rarely has a state visit threatened to do more damage to American interests than that of the Greek Prime Minister." NY Times, '94.
THE AMERICAN HELLENIC MEDIA PROJECT
PO Box 1150
New York, NY 10028-0008
If you have been browsing America's newspapers lately, or reading its magazines, or viewing its broadcasts, these are but a few of the alarming soundbites you would have encountered as part of a growing anti-Hellenic posture taken by our nation's press, media and information establishment. Although the Hellenic-American community has tried to address some of these disinformation campaigns, its own response has largely been disorganized and viewed as having limited authority and credibility. Greek-American organizations may launch spirited efforts to address an especially egregious article or broadcast, but otherwise fail to follow through beyond that particular instance. As a result, such efforts remain sporadic and anything but organized and comprehensive. Although Greek-American lobby groups have achieved surprising political successes with relatively few resources, there is no organization which comprehensively and effectively addresses this alarming assault on Greece and on the Greek heritage itself.
"THE INTERESTS OF THE GREEK-AMERICAN COMMUNITY ARE MOST SEVERELY HURT IN THE EDITORIAL PAGES, BY THE INTELLIGENTSIA. WE HAVE NOT MADE A VERY GOOD CASE TO THAT AUDIENCE, WHICH FILTERS HOW THE REST OF AMERICA SEES THESE ISSUES. WE HAVE DONE A VERY POOR JOB IN PRESENTING WHAT WE CARE ABOUT TO THAT GROUP IN A SOPHISTICATED WAY." - George Stephanopoulos The National Herald Report, 7/29/95
"ARTICLES ORIGINATING IN AMERICA ABOUT GREECE WERE NEGATIVE, AS WERE EDITORIALS AND OP ED ARTICLES. ARTICLES IN THE TIMES, THE POST AND THE [WALL STREET] JOURNAL BERATED CLINTON FOR REFUSING TO PRESSURE GREECE TO REMOVE ITS BLOCKADE ON SKOPJE. BUT I MUST TELL YOU THAT TO SOME EXTENT IT HAS BEEN BROUGHT ABOUT BECAUSE, UNTIL NOW, GREECE AND ARMENIA HAVE BEEN SO OBVIOUSLY UNCONCERNED ABOUT THEIR RESPECTIVE IMAGES IN THE AMERICAN PRESS." - Marjorie Housepian Dobkin From an address delivered at Thessaloniki, Greece, 11/1/94
The American Hellenic Media Project (AHMP) is an organization comprised of Americans of Hellenic descent, philhellenes and individuals concerned about truth and fairness in our nation's media and information establishment. AHMP's mission is to address the disturbing increase in the dissemination of misograecist viewpoints by our nation's information regime and to educate the media establishment on issues of concern to the Hellenic community. AHMP volunteers include professionals, academicians, journalists and others nationwide who are committed to these ideals and who believe that the dissemination of inaccurate or prejudiced information about any group corrodes the very foundation of democracy upon which this nation is built.
AHMP aspires to two simple but ambitious goals: (a) to create a nationwide network of volunteers to ensure comprehensive and timely monitoring of local and national newspapers, magazines, journals, TV, radio, films and other mass media sources; and (b) to timely respond in an informative, authoritative and persuasive manner to these sources. To accomplish these goals, AHMP has set up two equally crucial volunteer positions, AHMP Monitors and Writers.
As a Monitor, you would be responsible for monitoring one or more media sources, most likely a local newspaper or other periodical you usually read or subscribe to. What you would be looking for is not necessarily an article or broadcast dealing directly with Greece or Greeks but one that broadly concerns Hellenic issues. For example, a newspaper might publish an article touting the familiar line about how the U.S. should support Turkey as a staunch ally and a bulwark of democracy. AHMP would certainly like to remind the editor of Turkey's atrocious human rights record, its destabilizing presence in the Balkans, and its notorious multi-million-dollar disinformation campaign here in the U.S. -- a strategy which has come to encompass genocide denial, the outright purchasing of academia, and an absurd historical revisionism.
A particular emphasis will be placed on monitoring smaller, local media sources such as local newspapers. An article on Santa Claus in the Santa Fe Sun, for example, recently stated that St. Nicholas, a 4th Century Greek Saint from Myra, was a "Turkish bishop" &emdash;even though h lived centuries before any Turkic peoples ever set foot on Asia Minor! Upon finding an item, Monitors are further responsible for e-mailing, faxing, mailing or otherwise forwarding a copy of it to AHMP in a timely fashion, and including information on how to respond (address, fax, etc.).
Writers comprise the core of AHMP's mission. The emphasis is on presenting a sophisticated, persuasive and informative response on a "think tank" level. This requires that Writers possess exceptional writing skills and a working knowledge of Hellenic and other current events, geopolitics, and history. Thus a writing sample, preferably one involving some form of advocacy on relevant issues, is required. Writers would ideally be expected to draft around one response a month to media items brought to AHMP's attention by Monitors.
Unless a Writer expresses a preference to respond to a particular media item, one will be assigned. The Writer should draft a finished response and forward it to AHMP, preferably via e-mail or fax, usually within two to five days of assignment. After any necessary editing of the Writer's draft, AHMP will forward the finished response under appropriate AHMP letterhead and envelope to the Writer. Upon receipt, the Writer should sign the letter (forward a copy to AHMP) and immediately forward the original letter to the media source he or she is responding to.
Where AHMP cannot accommodate an applicant for this demanding position, volunteers are needed to serve as AHMP Independent Writers. Independent Writers individually respond to media items on their own, having equal access to AHMP resources as Writers. Media items can either be selected by the Independent Writer or assigned by AHMP.
AHMP will shoulder part of the responsibility of providing Writers and Independent Writers with information about the issues they are responding to. To that end, AHMP is putting together an electronic library on many of the "big" issues facing Hellenism (Cyprus, Macedonia, the Greek minority of Northern Epiros, etc.), and plans to make such information available through the Internet. Of course, Writers and Independent Writers are further encouraged to serve as Monitors of a media source.
AMERICAN - HELLENIC INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY
In order to facilitate such a national network, one of AHMP's goals is to form a lane for Greek-America on the information superhighway for media-response activities. From internal communications to educational projects to letter-writing campaigns, the Project will be conducting a substantial portion of its activities via e-mail, Internet, and fax. Writers, for example, are encouraged to e-mail their responses to AHMP to facilitate faster response times and more efficient editing and communication. In association with the Hellenic Resources Institute HR-Net project, AHMP has developed a web site which can be found at http://www.hri.org/ahmp. The site contains numerous functions, including a highly informative posting of dozens of AHMP responses categorized by media source as well as by topic, and a URL called "Media Alert!", alerting the philhellenic community to media items and other events that require immediate and collective action.
AHMP is now in the process of compiling an electronic library relating to Hellenic issues, which can be used as a resource by AHMP Writers, students, academics and the public at large through the Internet. Although the use of computers, faxes and access to the Internet is strongly encouraged, volunteers may of course be just as effective with good old-fashioned typewriters and regular mail.
PEOPLE - POWER
The American Hellenic Media Project is a new, grass-roots organization that has no endowments, no headquarters, no wealthy benefactors.* The fulfillment of its mission is dependent on numbers; on as many capable Greek-Americans, philhellenes and concerned individuals as possible getting involved in monitoring the media nationwide, and in volunteering their time and talent as Writers. Consequently, it is imperative that you copy and forward this letter to individuals you believe might want to assist AHMP in this important responsibility.
The urgency of this mission is especially compelling given the disturbing increase of a pronounced anti-Hellenic bias in the media and in government. The expression of this bias frequently takes the form of misinformation strategies -- often in support of ulterior political agendas and ranging from the outright revision of ancient and modern Greek history, to the denial of Turkey's ongoing atrocities and continuing international aggression, to more subtle arguments distorting the geopolitical realities of Greece and its place in the Balkans, NATO and Europe.
Hellenism finds itself in troubled times indeed. The integrity of our nation's press, media and academia even moreso. It is up to you individually to get involved . . . and make a difference.
Phillip Spyropoulos, Esq.
*Volunteers pay all expenses out-of-pocket. Help defray AHMP's operating costs with a five, ten or twenty dollar contribution to "American Hellenic Media Project", fowarded to PO Box 1150, NY, NY 10028-0008.