Log in
A+ A A-

Doxiadis: We, Readers, are Like Fools: The New York Times huge blunder reporting on the Greek border crisis

Featured Doxiadis: We, Readers, are Like Fools: The New York Times huge blunder reporting on the Greek border crisis

To believe in a noble cause is commendable. To write in its service, in order to enlighten your fellow human beings about your high values, even more so. There is just one problem however: if you are a journalist, you must put facts above values—else you are a mere propagandist.

Apostolos Doxiadis

To believe in a noble cause is commendable. To write in its service, in order to enlighten your fellow human beings about your high values, even more so. There is just one problem however: if you are a journalist, you must put facts above values—else you are a mere propagandist. And the nobility of the cause does not whitewash the capital crime, for a journalist, of twisting facts to fit your views. No matter how noble the views. 
The European, and especially Greek, refugee crisis of recent years has given ample material to many capable and idealistic journalists to do excellent work, combining facts and values. Alas, the same cannot be said of the authors of the recent article of the The New York Times “We Are Like Animals: inside Greece’s Secret Site for Migrants” (March 10, 2020). In it, the writers have swallowed bait and hook the material fed to them by the highly effective Turkish propaganda machine. And the worst of it, is they appear to have no clue of it.

The gist of the article is that the Greek state has created a “secret site”—echoes of Guantanamo, the CIA, etc, during the Afghanistan/Irag wars—in which people seeking political asylum are treated “like animals”.

Idealism is no excuse for extreme naivety, sloppy fact-checking and, worst of all, ignorance of context. Thus, for example, the journalists of the New York Times article must have read somewhere—they are journalist after all, and thus should be better informed than the average person—that Erdogan’s Turkey is all but a totalitarian regime, in which tens of thousands of innocent citizens are incarcerated either without trial or after the proceedings of kangaroo courts; in which many thousands are being inhumanly tortured and at least some hundreds have been, as the official announcement goes, “been found dead in their cells”. Furthermore, the writers of the article should have been aware that in recent years the media are subservient to the regime, on pain of shut-down and jailing of their owners and writers and anyone who openly voices criticism of the government ends up in jail. Among them, is a huge number of journalists.

The International Committee to Protect Journalists recently called Turkey “the world’s worst jailer of journalists.” One would expect that that particular piece of information, if none of the previous, should have made young Western idealistic journalists less trustful of official Turkish sources, and more keen to investigate the stories fed to them by the state and its functionaries. Not so in the case of “We Are Like Animals”. On the contrary, they innocently report “Turkish officials”, as actual sources of veritable facts. Well, how about that! I wonder, does “according to a functionary of the Ministry of Propaganda of the Third Reich” sound like a prelude to a truth? No, not unless you are a moron or a Nazi. Well, neither does the appeal to Turkish officials, nowadays, especially in a matter as politically charged as the hybrid warfare that their country has recently unleashed on Greece. Is my analogy an exaggeration? Yes, but alas not a big one—yet its shock value makes my point: you don’t trust functionaries of repressive regimes as reliable sources. What makes this more annoying in the article is that the journalists present the denial by the Greek state of their claims as possessing the same, or, by insinuation, a lower a priori truth value. It should not: Greece, for all its faults, is a democracy, with functioning checks and balances and rule of law, a free press and a totally free opposition, which freely can investigate or criticize government actions—try that in Erdogan’s Turkey and you end up in jail.

One would expect from the journalists writing in a free country, for a major newspaper, professionals who purportedly have learned to respect the values of an open society, to be aware that guided misinformation, fake-news, propaganda-posing-as-truth and outright lying is the staple of an unfree state, and a trademark of Erdogan’s Turkey, whose despot has claimed to his associates that he is “the only infallible.” (Must we expect a protest from the Vatican, I wonder?) Well, the journalists who wrote “We are Like Animals” do not seem to be so aware. Gullibility is rarely a virtue. But never in a journalist.

Apart from their simple-minded acceptance of Turkish official sources as truthful, the main thrust of the journalists’ opus is based on one (!) source, a certain gentleman presented as a “Syrian-Kurd” whose name is spelled in the article, as Somar al-Hussein, presumbably to make it sound as the real thing. But the case is a bit more complicated. What has escaped the attention of the good journalists is that Mr. Somar Elhüseyin, as he himself writes his name, in accordance with Turkish spelling, is in fact a golden boy of the Turkish state. And that though he is a of Syrian-Kurdish origin, he is a Turkish citizen, who is paraded in the past few years in Turkey as a case of the perfect immigrant, showing off the wonders that assimilation to Turkish society can do. Of course, to be a golden boy of the Turkish state, today, means to be a golden boy of the Turkish propaganda machine of a ruthless dictator.

t’s worth to give a closer look at this young gentleman, the same who was presented in the New York Times article as a poor, long-suffering refugee, trying to make a better life in Europe, having escaped the very real horrors of the Syrian war.

In 2017, Mr. Elhüseyin was accepted to Karamanoglu Mehmetbey University, in the city of Karaman, in southern Turkey, to study energy engineering, as an international exchange student. His name had already been Turkified, at the time he took his entrance exams. And it became obvious very soon that after that he had been singled out, as a special case, a man who could work for and with the state and showcase its purported triumphs. In fact, as soon as he passed his exams, the fanatically pro-Erdoganist newspaper Hürriyet chose Mr. Elhüseyin (yes, the man whose name the New York Times orientalise as Al-Hussein) to give an interview, on September 14, 2017, on the benefits of the Turkish educational system for foreign students. Fact: you are not promoted by Hürriyet if you are not a friend of Erdogan’s state, as you were not promoted by Pravda if you were not a friend of the Communist state—and there is no exaggeration here.

read the deplorable NYT article here

Apostolos K. Doxiadis (Greek: Απόστολος Κ. Δοξιάδης; born 1953) is a Greek writer. He is best known for his international bestsellers Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture (2000) and Logicomix (2009).

Early life
Doxiadis was born in Australia, where his father, the architect Constantinos Apostolou Doxiadis was working. Soon after his birth, the family returned to Athens, where Doxiadis grew up. Though his earliest interests were in poetry, fiction and the theatre, an intense interest in mathematics led Doxiadis to leave school at age fifteen, to attend Columbia University, in New York, from which he obtained a bachelor's degree in Mathematics in May 1972. He then attended the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris from which he got a master's degree, with a thesis on the mathematical modeling of the nervous system. His father’s death and family reasons made him return to Greece in 1975, interrupting his graduate studies. In Greece, although involved for some years with the computer software industry, Doxiadis returned to his childhood and adolescence loves of theatre and the cinema, before becoming a full-time writer.

Fiction in Greek
Doxiadis began to write in Greek. His first published work was A Parallel Life (Βίος Παράλληλος, 1985), a novella set in the monastic communities of 4th century CE Egypt. His first novel, Makavettas (Μακαβέττας, 1988), recounted the adventures of a fictional power-hungry colonel at the time of the Greek military junta of 1967–1974. Written in a tongue-in-cheek imitation of Greek folk military memoirs, such as that of Yannis Makriyannis, it follows the plot of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, of which the eponymous hero’s name is a Hellenized form. Doxiadis next novel, Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture (Ο Θείος Πέτρος και η Εικασία του Γκόλντμπαχ, 1992), was the first long work of fiction whose plot takes place in the world of pure mathematics research. The first Greek critics did not find the mathematical themes appealing, and it received mediocre reviews, unlike Doxiadis’s first two works, which were well received. Τhe novella The Three Little Men (Τα Τρία Ανθρωπάκια, 1998), attempts a modern-day retelling of the tale of a classic fairy-tale.

Fiction in English
In 1998, Doxiadis translated into English, significantly re-working, his third novel, which was published in England in 2000 as Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture (UK publisher: Faber and Faber; United States publisher: Bloomsbury USA.) The book became an international bestseller, and has been published to date in more than thirty-five languages. It has received the praise of, among others, Nobel Laureate John Nash, British mathematician Sir Michael Atiyah, critic George Steiner and psychiatrist Oliver Sacks. Uncle Petros is one of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

Doxiadis’ next project, which took over five years to complete, was the graphic novel Logicomix (2009), a number one bestseller on the New York Times Bestseller List and an international bestseller, already published in over twenty languages. Logicomix was co-authored with computer scientist Christos Papadimitriou, with art work by Alecos Papadatos (pencils) and Annie Di Donna (color). Renowned comics historian and critic R. C. Harvey, in the Comics Journal, called Logicomix “a tour-de-force” a “virtuoso performance”, while The Sunday Times’ Brian Appleyard called it “probably the best and certainly the most extraordinary graphic novel” he has read. Logicomix is one of Paul Gravett’s 1001 Comics You Must Read Before you Die.

Theatre and cinema
In the early stage of his career, Doxiadis directed in the professional theatre, in Athens, and worked as translator, translating, among other plays, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Midsummer Night’s Dream, as well as Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra.

He has written two plays for the theatre. The first was a full-length shadow-puppet play The Tragical History of Jackson Pollock, Abstract Expressionist (1999), in English, of which he also designed and directed the Athens performance. In this play, Doxiadis realized some of his views on “epic theatre”, in other words a theatre based on storytelling. His second play, Incompleteness (2005), is an imaginary account of the last seventeen days in the life of the great logician Kurt Gödel, which Gödel spent in a Princeton, New Jersey, hospital, refusing to eat out of fear that he was being poisoned. The play was staged in Athens, in 2006, as Dekati Evdomi Nyhta (Seventeenth Night) with the actor Yorgos Kotanidis in the role of Kurt Gödel.

Doxiadis has also written and directed two feature-length films, in Greek, Underground Passage (Υπόγεια Διαδρομή, 1983) and Terirem (Τεριρέμ, 1987). The latter won the CICAE (International Confederation of Art Cinemas) prize for Best Film in the 1988 Berlin International Film Festival.

Doxiadis has a lifelong interest in logic, cognitive psychology and rhetoric, as well as the theoretical study of narrative. In 2007, he organized, with mathematician Barry Mazur, a meeting on the theoretical investigation of the relationship of mathematics and narrative, whose proceedings were published as Circles Disturbed, The Interplay of Mathematics and Narrative (2012). Doxiadis has lectured extensively on his theoretical interests. Doxiadis’ recent work has led him to formulate a theory about the development of deductive proof in Classical Greece, which lays emphasis on influences from pre-existing patterns in narrative and, especially, Archaic Age Poetry.

Awards and honours
Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture was the first recipient of the Premio Peano] the first international award for books inspired by mathematics and short-listed for the Prix Médicis. Logicomix has earned numerous awards, among them the Bertrand Russell Society Award, the Royal Booksellers Association Award (the Netherlands), the New Atlantic Booksellers Award (USA), the Prix Tangente (France), the Premio Carlo Boscarato (Italy), the Comicdom Award (Greece). It was chosen as "Book of the Year" by TIME Magazine, Publishers Weekly, The Washington Post, The Financial Times, The Globe and Mail, and other publications.