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[tatar-l] Re: Most influential Tatars of the Century

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  • Igor Sagdeev
    Isenmesez, hormetle Sabirzyan, I would want to give my opinion on the two quesions you raise: those of the assimilated Tatars and people of partially Tatar
    Message 1 of 7 , Apr 10, 1999
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      Isenmesez, hormetle Sabirzyan,

      I would want to give my opinion on the two quesions you raise: those of the
      assimilated
      Tatars and people of partially Tatar descent. I would prefer to discuss the
      questions
      in general terms, not the personalities you mention, some of whom I actually
      happen
      to know personally.

      Given the relative size of the Tatar diaspora, i.e., people who identify
      themselves as Tatars but
      live outside centers of concentration of Tatars, it is inevitable that there
      would be many
      people who are aware of their heritage, but do not speak the language,
      and/or are born from
      mixed marriages. These people apparently do not contribute to the Tatar
      culture per se,
      but, so long as they feel emotionally attached to their heritage, should be
      considered as
      Tatars, no matter what their languages, creed, and customs are. An arrogant
      attitude towards
      them from the "true" Tatars will only insult and repel them, and make them
      strive to be
      really assimilated - i.e., completely identify themselves with some other
      group. As you might
      have noticed, such people often become most ardent nationalists of their
      "host" nations.
      In other words, when going head counting "infuential" Tatars, one should not
      use the
      words "half-Tatars" (just think of a vivid picture of half a person, hopping
      on one leg) or
      "assimilated Tatars", but of Tatars, or, if you're unsure of how the person
      in question identifies
      him/herself, of people of Tatar descent.

      Another question is whether it makes any sense to build up lists of "our own
      great people".
      To me, this smacks of attempts to overcome an inferiority complex. The
      truth is, there were
      few, if any, Tatars who have achieved a lasting worldwide importance, on par
      with Goethe,
      Einstein, or Pushkin, or even a step lower than that, but then again, most
      small nations haven't
      produced any either - it's a matter of probabilities, not of inferiority.
      Blowing up people of some
      importance out of proportion, simply because they are "our own", only makes
      us ridiculous in the
      eyes of others. Not to mention that being a compatriot of great man does not
      make me great
      by association either.

      With regards,
      Igor Sagdeev

      (an "assimilated" "1/2 Tatar")





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    • SabirzyanB@aol.com
      Dear Igor, I am truly sorry for unintentionally hurting your feelings. It didn t occur to me that the words half-Tatar and assimilated Tatar have negative
      Message 2 of 7 , Apr 10, 1999
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        Dear Igor,

        I am truly sorry for unintentionally hurting your feelings. It didn't occur
        to me that the words "half-Tatar" and "assimilated Tatar" have negative
        connotations. Now that I think of it, you are probably right, those words do
        sound a bit derogatory. I apologize for that. I certainly believe that no
        one can be blamed for having only one Tatar parent or for not having the
        opportunities to study the Tatar language. Our attitude toward assimilated
        Tatars should not be arrogant. On the contrary, we must do everything to help
        them re-discover their ethnic roots.

        You write in your message:
        >> Another question is whether it makes any sense to build up lists of "our
        own
        great people". To me, this smacks of attempts to overcome an inferiority
        complex. <<

        What's wrong with trying to overcome the inferiority complex? Yes, many
        Tatars do have a deeply-rooted ethnic inferiority complex. That's exactly
        why we should make them aware of the existence of many great Tatars who
        contributed something to the world civilization. Ethnic inferiority complex
        should be considered one of the most important causes or preconditions of
        ethnic assimilation.

        Further, you write:
        >> The truth is, there were few, if any, Tatars who have achieved a lasting
        worldwide importance, on par with Goethe, Einstein, or Pushkin, or even a
        step lower than that..<<

        Here I disagree with you totally. Let's take, for example, Rudolf Nureyev.
        He is considered to be one of the greatest ballet dancers in the world.
        Despite being assimilated, he was always proud to call himself a Tatar. In
        the world of dance he is definitely on the same level as Goethe in poetry or
        Einstein in science. Should we consider him a Russian simply because he
        didn't have a Tatar school in his town and as a result never learned to speak
        his native language properly? Of course not. I am a Tatar patriot but I
        didn't speak Tatar properly until the age of 25. Did I switch from being a
        Russian to being a Tatar at the age of 25?

        Selemner belen,
        Sabirjan

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      • Igor Sagdeev
        Dear Sabirzian, You haven t hurt my feelings in any way. I m used to my mixed heritage, somewhat fuzzy identity, and all the problems that stem from that. I m
        Message 3 of 7 , Apr 11, 1999
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          Dear Sabirzian,

          You haven't hurt my feelings in any way. I'm used to my mixed heritage,
          somewhat
          fuzzy identity, and all the problems that stem from that. I'm mostly
          thinking about
          other people, who are not completely comfortable with being "not like
          everybody else",
          and may feel vulnerable. When living in Moscow, I have seen many Tatars who
          were
          ashamed of their "wierd" names, for example, and used Russian replacements.
          The same
          thing happens here, in the US, where many immigrants want to assimilate as
          quickly as
          possible, and their children usually start forgetting their parents'
          languages in a few
          years. It takes some courage to swim against the stream, and a strong
          support and patience
          on the part of compatriots can help a lot of people to become comfortable
          with
          "living in two worlds".

          >What's wrong with trying to overcome the inferiority complex? Yes, many

          It's wrong to have it in the first place. The Tatars didn't get down from
          the trees
          yesterday. They are not in any way inferior to the Russians, or any other
          group in
          the region.

          >Tatars do have a deeply-rooted ethnic inferiority complex. That's exactly
          >why we should make them aware of the existence of many great Tatars who
          >contributed something to the world civilization. Ethnic inferiority
          complex
          >should be considered one of the most important causes or preconditions of
          >ethnic assimilation.

          What I am really sad about, is that often the way this complex is fought
          against
          betrays its very existence. At least to me.

          >Here I disagree with you totally. Let's take, for example, Rudolf Nureyev.
          >He is considered to be one of the greatest ballet dancers in the world.
          >Despite being assimilated, he was always proud to call himself a Tatar.

          Anybody who calls himself a Tatar, is a Tatar. I don't think there can be
          any other
          definition.

          >In the world of dance he is definitely on the same level as Goethe in
          poetry or
          >Einstein in science.

          Here you are, probably, right. I just don't have much interest in ballet, so
          I can't
          judge for myself.

          > Should we consider him a Russian simply because he
          >didn't have a Tatar school in his town and as a result never learned to
          speak
          >his native language properly? Of course not.

          Certainly not, unless he thought of himself as Russian (which you say he did
          not).
          Otherwise, he'd be a person of Tatar descent for me.

          >I am a Tatar patriot but I
          >didn't speak Tatar properly until the age of 25. Did I switch from being a
          >Russian to being a Tatar at the age of 25?

          That's a tricky question, and it has many analogies in the world. Are the
          English-speaking
          Irish really Irish? Are the Polish-speakers of Wileszczyzna really
          Lithuanian? I think that,
          given the linguistic realities, the feelings of identity and allegiance are
          more important
          than the language you use. I don't know how you felt before 25. I hope, you
          were
          never ashamed of your heritage, and that always made you a Tatar, or, maybe,
          both a Tatar
          and a Russian, which is quite a predicament, but does not mean you were
          inferior.

          To me, the only people who are inferior, are those who have no courage to be
          different,
          and can only float downstream. And those who are intolerant.


          Yours, Igor





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        • SabirzyanB@aol.com
          Dear Igor, I basically agree with everything in your last message. I only want to respond to a couple of points. ... about, is that often the way this complex
          Message 4 of 7 , Apr 11, 1999
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            Dear Igor,

            I basically agree with everything in your last message. I only want to
            respond to a couple of points.

            In response to my question:

            >What's wrong with trying to overcome the inferiority complex?<

            you wrote:

            >> It's wrong to have it in the first place. ..... What I am really sad
            about, is that often the way this complex is fought against betrays its very
            existence. <<

            Yes, it is wrong to have an ethnic inferiority complex. But it does exist
            whether we like it or not. In my opinion, it is important to bring this fact
            out into the open instead of hiding it. It is a serious problem and we will
            not be able to overcome it unless we admit its existence. To put it
            figuratively, instead of sweeping the dust under the rug, we have to take it
            out of the house.

            The second point has to do with me personally. You wrote:
            >>I hope, you were never ashamed of your heritage, and that always made you a
            Tatar, or, maybe, both a Tatar and a Russian, which is quite a predicament,
            but does not mean you were inferior. <<

            I never felt inferior to anyone and never considered myself a Russian or even
            half-Russian.

            Dear Igor and all the other members of the Tatar-l discussion group, let me
            suggest something that might be benefitial for our future discussions: Let's
            try to avoid making comments about each other (whether negative or positive)
            and try to comment only about each other's ideas. This is the golden rule
            that will prevent all future conflicts and misunderstandings during our
            discussions.

            Selemner belen,
            Sabirzyan Badretdin

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