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Old 10.10.2007, 16:42   #1
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Sunday, October 07, 2007
What is censorship if not another form of dissent by those in power against the defenseless. Assassination, it has been said, is still another form of dissent.
Arrogance can be lethal to the best among us, how much more so to a nonentity. If you want to understand why we have been perennial underdogs and victims, have a talk with one of our smartass, know-it-all, holier-than-thou nonentities who will tell you what brought us to this pass is our geography, our religion, our neighborhood…and a thousand other reasons, never their own kind of dogmatism, intolerance, and contempt for what others think.
A man of average intelligence will assess himself as above average. That’s more or less normal. It happens all the time. What is not normal but a constant in politics, including our own, is for a nonentity to assess himself as a genius, a man of vision, and a leader of men. Speaking of one such leader (Hamo Ohandjanian) Granian once told me, “He was credulous to the point of being naïve. During World War II, in the middle of an argument, I heard him say, ‘Churchill does not lie!’”*
And speaking of arrogance and Churchill: when Michael Arlen (real name Dikran Kouyoumdjian) once challenged Churchill to admit that his tanks were no match for Hitler’s, Churchill didn’t even bother to lie; he just let him know – and this in the presence of distinguished guests -- what he thought of him: “You are a foreigner, an intruder, an Armenian who dares to come to this country and write books purporting to be about the manners and behavior of its aristocracy. You do not belong and never will belong to the classes in this country, which you are so profitably describing. You have, in point of fact, no right to be sitting at this table.”**
Today’s quotation in our local paper is by Havelock Ellis and it reads: “What we call progress is the exchange of one nuisance for another nuisance.” Armenian translation: “What we call leadership is the succession of one arrogant nonentity with another.”
*See my VIEWS / REVIEWS / INTERVIEWS (Los Angeles, 1982)
**See Harry Keyishian, MICHAEL ARLEN (Boston, 1975).
Monday, October 08, 2007
Human understanding deals with fractions. Only god’s understanding deals with wholes. When a man says his understanding extends from alpha to omega, you can be sure of one thing: he doesn’t even understand a fraction of alpha. If a man says he has all the answers, he has only one answer and that answer is wrong.
If we agree that the international community is moved only by self-interest, the question we should ask is, do we have anything to offer? If the answer is we have nothing, then obviously we have been wasting our time.
In what way are we different from the rest of mankind? Is not self-interest what motivates us too? If the answer is no, that may indeed be our problem. If the answer is yes, then we have no right to portray ourselves as morally superior.
The greatest obstacle to understanding is understanding itself, or to think that, just because we have understood one fraction, we understand the whole.
Historians disagree because they focus on different aspects of reality. Philosophers disagree because they deal with different aspects of understanding. Both reality and understanding are complex concepts with many facets and layers.
Knowledge and understanding advance through many stages. To say I know and understand all I need to know and understand is to confuse the first step of the journey with the last.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
When I was young I believed everything I read in our history books. I was shocked when I heard a Mekhitarist scholar say that there is more fiction than fact in the works of our historians. I know now there is some nationalist, religious, ideological or philosophical bias in all historians.
“The Soviet period of Armenian history is highly controversial,” writes Manuel Sarkisyanz in the preface to his MODERN HISTORY OF TRANSCAUCASIAN ARMENIA (Leiden, 1975). What makes the Soviet period controversial is ideology, of course, and where ideology enters, propaganda and bias are sure to follow. Elsewhere, on page 209, we read: “British propaganda in the United States was publicizing the Martyrdom of the Armenians to enflame American conscience – which, in 1917, contributed to American willingness to enter the war against Germany. For this purpose an enormous amount of information on the Armenian massacres and the alleged German responsibility for them was published in the interest of the Entente. As it was meant to serve the Allied war effort, much of it contains anti-Turkish and anti-German bias.” It is this very bias that is at the source of Turkish denialism and American reluctance to call a spade a spade.
Speaking of ideology and bias, here is another passage, on page 323, that may not be flattering to our collective ego: “The War [World War II] also caused an improvement in the position of the Armenian Church in the Soviet Union. The Communist regime needed the Churches to endorse its war effort.”
Further down, on page 326, Sarkisyanz tells us, the regime’s influence reached far beyond the borders of the USSR: “The pro-Soviet Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan was, in 1944, appointed from Etchmiadzin to be Prelate of the Armenian Church of North America. He endorsed Communism as ‘leading to a Christian ideal’ and had written that ‘what the clergy is…on the spiritual level, the Communist Party is on the worldly level of politics and economics.’” You may, if you wish, call this bias fueled by ideology. But I would agree with my Mekhitarist teacher in calling it fiction bordering on fantasy.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Armenians divided?
Not so! We are just about the most united people on planet earth.
Armenians intolerant?
Wrong! As the first nation to embrace Christianity, we are the most compassionate, tolerant, understanding people in the world and anyone who says otherwise is a lying Turcophile moron and very probably a paid agent of Ankara.
Armenians dupes?
It’s common knowledge that we are the smartest people on the face of the earth and it takes seven Jews to fool an Armenian. I dare you to name another nation that can boast of a Mikoyan, a Gulbenkian, a Kirkorian, not to mention our Jack S. Avanakians, Khartakhians, Khembelians, Kheyarians, Abdalians, Avazakians…
Armenians corruptible?
We may have our share of rotten apples, like you, but on the whole, when it comes to standards of honesty and personal integrity, we are the envy of the world.
Armenians have a highly developed spirit of contradiction?
If that means we don’t take no sh** from nobody, especially Turcophile bastards like you, then yes, certainly, why not? I consider that an asset, not a liability.
Armenia a mafia democracy?
You are alive, aren’t you?
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