Slapdash comedy and Greek myths

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The strange thing isn't the revival of myths about Henry Kissinger and the Greek language referred to by Pantelis Boukalas (commentary of April 15 in Kathimerini). What is even stranger is the ease with which they are revived, not only in coffee houses but in the major media, and even in Parliament.

Under normal circumstances, a TV program like Lakis Lazopoulos's "Al Tsandiri News" should have some kind of research department, or at least a few people checking the veracity of what our national comedian comes out with.

This show has the highest ratings and perhaps the highest revenues from advertising on Greek television today. In Greece, even comedy is slapdash - we find something on the Internet that makes an impression on us and we broadcast it to the nation without checking it, not even to see if it makes sense.

What did Lazopoulos reiterate for the umpteenth time? That Kissinger said: "The Greeks are hard to govern so we must strike deep into their cultural roots. That way we may knock some sense into them. What I mean is that we must strike their language, their religion, their cultural and historical heritage in order to eliminate any possibility of their progress, prominence and domination so that they would stop having a say in the Balkans, the East Mediterranean and the Middle East, which are the key areas of great strategic importance for the policy of the USA."

Let's assume that Greeks are in fact "hard to govern" and that Kissinger - who had nothing else to do - decided to strike us. Why would he reveal his plan? To put us on our guard?

Even assuming that he let it slip out, how can one strike cultural and historical heritage? How does one strike deep into cultural roots? Such an attack would take two or three generations to have any effect. Wouldn't it be easier, more effective and cheaper to impose an economic embargo?

Myths aren't the problem - they are everywhere and in all languages. The myth about the USA's official language (which would have been Greek but for two votes in Congress), also exists in a German version but it is not part of that country's public debate; it is not aired on popular television shows except to be ridiculed.

In Greece, myths stay alive not only because they are broadcast at will, but because they are not subject to any test of common sense. Everything is carried out in a slapdash fashion, even public debate.

KATHIMERINI English Edition, 18/04/2008