02 June 2006

716) THE ARMENIANS : National Characteristics

John Stossel (American TV correspondent and author. Title of his latest book): MYTHS, LIES & DOWNRIGHT STUPIDITY: GET OUT THE SHOVEL – WHY EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG.
The difference between dialogue and argument is this: dialogue moves towards consensus, argument polarizes.
Armenian dialogue: an oxymoron.
You have a better chance to learn from an argument if you lose it.
When confronted with a statement he neither understands nor wants to understand, an Armenian will contradict it simply because he perceives it to be anti-Armenian, thus implying that only pro-Armenian statements are valid, only chauvinist Armenians are good Armenians, and only dupes are honest.
There are two kinds of disagreement: honest and hostile. The first is a result of divergent experiences, the second a result of brainwashing – that is to say, disagreement in the name of this or that received idea, ideology, or religion, and the misconception that if I speak in the name of God or Country, I can’t be wrong. It follows, if I kill in the name of patriotism, it is not murder; and if I massacre in the name of Allah, why apologize?
To get angry during an argument means to reason not with your brain but with your gut. Hence the old Chinese saying, “He who loses temper has wrong on his side.�
If you begin an argument with the intention of winning it, you have already lost it if only because you have condemned yourself to learn nothing.
An Armenian argument may be defined as one in which both sides lose not only the argument but also their dignity, assuming of course they had any to begin with, which is assuming a great deal.

In my first book, THE ARMENIANS: THEIR HISTORY AND CULTURE – A SHORT INTRODUCTION (Toronto, 1975), I included a chapter subtitled “National Characteristics,” in which I bragged about Armenians being adaptable, as if being adaptable were one of the cardinal virtues, as if adapting ourselves to authority no matter how brutal were a certificate of integrity, as if adapting ourselves to being subservient were a major achievement.

* Our revolutionaries challenged the might of the Ottoman Empire, true, but they did so not as self-reliant thinkers but as double dupes of the Great Powers and of their own megalomania. I say this because I refuse to spend the rest of my life adapting myself to their propaganda line and the lies of chauvinist charlatans who have adapted themselves into thinking they are our betters but who may well be our worst.

* The present is an extension of the past and history repeats itself. Today there are those who have adapted themselves to the lie that if things are left alone in the Homeland they will improve in one or two generations, as if anything has improved in the Diaspora during the last four generations, or for that matter, during the last thousand years. Which may suggest that we are so adaptable that we can even live with corruption, incompetence and degeneration and pretend they represent development and progress.

* We are adaptable? So is the mafia. So are parasites and viruses. So are collaborators with evil empires.

To survive as an Armenian writer, you need, in addition to the genius of a Shakespeare, the skin of a crocodile, the cunning of a fox, and the taste buds of a dung beetle.

* Because I am critical of Armenians, some of my Turkish readers may think I am anti-Armenian, and some of my Armenian readers may suspect I am pro-Turkish. I am neither. Even when I discuss Turks or Armenians I do not write exclusively about them. I write about human beings regardless of nationality. I write about human beings even when they behave like swine. I know from personal experience that there is nothing easier for a human being than to behave like swine.

* I don’t expect anyone to believe me. Shaw is right: the trouble with liars is that they believe no one.

* The German head of state on the radio this morning: “A nation that doesn’t understand its past cannot have a future.� Do we understand our past? Not yet. We may begin to understand it only on the day we learn to answer such questions as, “Why is it that treason and betrayal are in our blood?� (Raffi); and “Why is it that Armenians survive by cannibalizing one another?� (Zarian).

* What about Turks? Do they understand their past? They might begin to understand it only on the day they realize that to massacre innocent civilians in the name of Allah is to confuse god with the devil. #


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