From Olympics to Politics Armenia’s Are a No Show

BY SKEPTIK SINIKIAN

Here’s a quick question to get this column started. What do Mongolia–Trinidad and Tobago–Chinese Taipei–Croatia–Estonia–and Israel have in common? I’ll give you a hint. They each have one–as do Kazakhstan and Zimbabwe. And Georgia and Azerbaijian? They each have two. Turkey has four and Greece has three. While some of you pull out an atlas and look up the number of lakes–rivers–or mountains named after Austrian weightlifters or what not–I’ll give you one last hint. Armenia has none! The answer is an Olympic medal. That’s right–Armenia has none. Repeat–Armenia has not one a single Olympic medal.

Now some of you may jump on me saying things like "Oh–Armenia has more important concerns like our economy or a peaceful resolution to the Karabagh situation." Or some others may argue that Armenia’should be busy fixing potholes in the streets of Yerevan instead of spending money training athletes for the Olympics. Fair enough–but how much more serious are Armenia’s problems compared to Azerbaijan or Georgia? Heck–Georgia is like one giant pothole that needs to be fixed when you look at all their problems. And are we really worse off than Zimbabwe?

Seriously though–I’ve been very depressed ever since I realized that it’s the second week of the Olympics and so far Armenia has not won a single medal. I was even more depressed when I looked at some of the sports in which countries were medaling (that’s a cool Olympic verb which means "to win a medal" and it’s not to be confused with meddling which is a professional Armenian pastime.) I was watching the evening news when they reported that Greece had won its first gold medal of the games in synchronized diving. You read that correctly–synchronized diving. Not swimming–but diving. So–I am supposed to believe that nowhere in all of Armenia or the Mediterranean style mansions in the mountains of Glendale–California is there a swimming pool in which two Armenia’s can practice jumping in at the same time?! I suppose it’s difficult to get Armenia’s to be synchronized on anything–and we all know what a synchronized diving squad of Armenia’s would be like. Sako would make the dive and then Hovo would run into the arena late (on Armenian time) and dive in five seconds later with his clothes still on. Then resurface to apologize for being late–claiming that his grandmother had made dolma and that he couldn’t say no–had to sit down–eat and have "sourj" afterwards. (sigh!)

The other sport that really bothered me was the gymnastics event that involved a trampoline. I’m convinced we could have had an entry in this category too. How hard can it be to jump up and down on a trampoline for points? If I wasn’t afraid of heights I would begin training for the 2008 Olympics right now.

My Olympic disappointment this week was only outdone by an even more pathetic display of defeatism–this time by the Armenian Assembly of America. I was reading an article someone had forwarded to me from the August 12 issue of Ha’aretz–one of the leading Jewish newspapers. I had to read the entire article just by looking at the headline –"Armenian lobbyists are facing a lost cause." Who? What? When? Where? And WHY?? All these questions flashed across my eyes as I read intently about how Armenian lobby groups are pushing for a lost cause–official US recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The article made some legitimate points but the real damage was done by the spokesperson for the Armenian Assembly who downplayed the role that Armenia’s will play in the national election. Here’s the ridiculous excerpt from the article.

"So far–no Armenian group has voiced support for Bush. But the Armenian community’s electoral power is not significant.There an currently an estimate 1-1.5 million Americans of Armenian descent–but most are second–third–or fourth-generation immigran’s and therefore–not all of them vote based on the candidates’ views on faraway Armenia. There are those who base their decision on the Armenian issue–those who vote only based on their political views–and those who vote based on different reasons altogether," explained Ross Vartian–the executive director of the Armenian Assembly of America. [AAA]"

This is not the first time that Mr. Vartian has minimized the importance of the Armenian vote. A few weeks ago–I remember reading something from an interview with Radio Free Europe where he mentioned that the influence of Armenian Americans in elections in the US is "modest."

Imagine a boxer giving an interview before entering the ring for a fight and saying–"Well–I know I’m going to lose–and I never really wanted to be a boxer to begin with and who knows what the future will hold for me after this fight–after all–I’m not even strong enough to be in this weight division." That’s basically what Mr. Vartian’s commen’s sound like. With such an important election on the horizon and some of the states having elections that are predicted to come down to the wire–why would Mr. Vartian give such a watered down–divided message to the media? I can’t figure it out. Maybe you can. But I suppose I shouldn’t expect much from an organization whose Chairman of the Board of Directors–Van Z. Krikorian was invited to address the annual convention of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) in Washington–DC and actually went to address them.

Why would an organization like the ATAA that has dedicated an entire section on its website to denial of the Armenian Genocide invite the Chairman of the AAA to their most important meeting of the year? Maybe they’ve taken a page out of the Armenian Olympic Committee playbook and decided to not even show up for the big event this November. They’ve decided that settling even for a bronze medal is too much work. Who knows what the reasons are for such insipid and damaging statemen’s. I only hope that these commen’s don’t discourage Armenian Americans from voting this November. Skeptik Sinikian is currently in therapy to overcome his fear of heights. After he’s done with his treatment–he will begin training for the synchronized diving competition to represent Armenia in the 2008 summer Olympics. He’s still looking for a diving partner. Interested or offended parties should contact him at skeptiksinikian@aol.com or visit www.sinikian.blogspot.com

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