CivilNet Gets It Woefully Wrong

I’ve recently been informed that my commentary is “ridiculous” because I am not currently in Armenia starting a revolution. But in my world, which happens to exist outside of the “why don’t you go [fill in the blank]” kindergarten playground of discussions, I believe I am free to comment on things that exist outside of the vicinity of where I live so that’s what I’m going to continue to do.

For context, I’ve been a fan of the CivilNet English-language video updates since they were announced in September. I think they are an important source of information for people whose primary language of communication is English and who want to have a connection to news in Armenia.

CivilNet fb

However, this short report on today’s cockamamie “revolution” really got it wrong.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtj1p6ADGG8&w=560&h=315]

What about it? Well, thanks for asking. Come with me.

1) Look at all these police arresting people!

The video, as can be seen, shows almost an unhindered stream of what looks like police aggression and force. To those none the wiser, the police are brutally carrying away and imposingly blocking the paths of citizens simply trying to protest.

But what the video completely fails to show is that BEFORE the roundup and presence of significant police force, several explosives were detonated by this guy and his ragtag band of “revolutionaries”:

Harutiunian and his "revolutionaries." (Credit: Photolur)
Harutiunian and his “revolutionaries” (Credit: Photolur)

In fact, as can be seen in a video taken before CivilNet’s, although there was a police presence, there were no special forces or SWAT anywhere in sight. 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ypGza2cU90&w=560&h=315]

I’m going to guess they showed up after the fact but in the CivilNet video, it looks like it was a continuous event with the massive police presence, and accompanying arrests, happening just because people were protesting, which was NOT the case. 

Selective much?

2) Sequence of events

The video’s narration notes that “when protesters decided to start marching toward the Presidential Palace, more than 200 police and special forces, including the SWAT team, pushed them back.”

How about a scenario? Say you’re walking around with some friends and you all happen to have taken your favorite masks with you on this particular stroll. You also happen to be in Washington, DC (or Budapest or Kigale or Athens) and decide you feel like a protest. So you start heading over to the president’s pad. Except, on this particular day, THERE WERE EXPLOSIVE DEVICES DETONATED less than a mile from where the president lives.

What capital in the whole world would allow masked protesters to get anywhere near any government building, much less the president’s house, during a time of such disarray? If you answered not a goddamn one, you’d be correct. 

In real life, CivilNet doesn’t bother with the fact that there was a serious violent incident that took place before these marchers tried to head to the Presidential Palace and leaves the impression that activists protesting “corrupt governments and greedy corporations” were stopped in their tracks by police. 

Another fact not important enough to include in the report that I feel might have encouraged the police to pour hundreds of their officers onto the street: 8 policemen were hospitalized after the explosives were detonated.

“Revolutionaries” beating the shit out of some guy before 200 people with masks were stupefyingly stopped by police on their jaunt to the Presidential Palace:

Harutiunian in orange shirt. (Credit: Photolur)
Harutiunian in orange shirt. (Credit: Photolur)

3) Editing

After a full minute and a half of showing police carrying people away, the narration announces that,

“it appeared that the protests centered around Shant Harutiunian […] who for days has been repeating that somehow something must change.”

CUT TO FOOTAGE OF MAN BEING HAULED OFF BY POLICE.

So can we conclude that the thing that Harutiunian is trying to change is police dragging people away while distraught women weep in the background? Although it was Harutiunian that inspired the police to be doing that in the first place?

And then there is no mention that Harutiunian was the jackass who led the initial group and was doing this, and throwing explosives on the ground like firecrackers, before the area was flooded by police:

Harutiunian (Credit: Photolur)
Harutiunian – seriously, WTF? (Credit: Photolur)

For effect, both the beginning and end of the video was flanked by audio of a screeching woman, I suppose to accentuate the egregiousness of a police officer carrying away a possible suspect in the explosions that CivilNet didn’t bother spending much time on.

Wonderful editing. Grade A. But so terribly disappointing. 

Look, I get it. Every outlet has its tilt.

CivilNet is a project of Civiltas which is a proactive think tank established by one of the longest-running government officials in modern Armenian history who happens to be a member of a political party on tepid terms with the ruling party. Fine. But this was just too blatant.

You want to make the government look bad? I’m sure you can come up with something better than craftily editing a video in a way that renders it a half-truth.

I also recognize that we’re so damned starved for something we’ll take anything. Indeed our state of affairs must be in doldrums if there are smart, serious people riding the coattails of a lunatic to make their point.

Successful revolutionaries, even violent ones, make a case for revolution.

Think about Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Adams making a sign announcing that they’re starting a revolution like they’re having a fucking bake sale.

Or Lenin walking into the street with a stick and swinging it at people like Donatello (the Ninja Turtle, not the artist). Or Mao Zedong and Robespierre muttering nonsense like a common fool and then expecting the people to fall in line.

No, these revolutionaries wrote, debated, organized, spoke, planned, and thought. They had purpose. They would not be satisfied with the painfully bland, “somehow something must change.” What person who respects their own intelligence in the least could be inspired by such ambiguity?

By not condemning Harutiunian and his ilk for what they are, we would be complicit in encouraging the vapid rhetoric that is fit not for revolutionaries but charlatans. We cheapen our goals and our expectations of others and ourselves.

We’re capable of thinking deeply. We just need to do it.

By: William Bairamian

[twitter-follow screen_name=’bairamian’]