Monday, April 7, 2008

Circus of Hypocrisy

Illustration by Ares

If there ever was a "Richter" scale for hypocrisy, it would have gone red hot mad during the last couple of weeks in Lebanon. Double standards are a rare sight nowadays, where triple (or more) standards have ruled the media landscape on three issues.

First, the controversy over the lawsuit between General Michel Aoun and Paul Chaoul (supposed to be an intellectual, erudite of a creature) following the latter's article in an anti-Aoun newspaper in which he used inflammatory language, libel and sleazy sentences worthy of a whorehouse pimp.
Now, this lawsuit would have been normal and natural in any country in the world except for Lebanon where a large panoply of "intellectuals" and media figures (who accidentally work in anti-Aoun political media outlets) signed a petition raving against the lawsuit and declaring it as a direct punch to the freedom of expression in the country and the mere fact that Michel Aoun resorted to the rule of law in this matter is -in their "intellectual" opinion- something outrageous.
The hypocrisy here is not their opinion or their petition, but the fact that the people who they work for, namely Saad Hariri, Samir Geagea and many other politicians still have a dozen active lawsuits against critical journalists.

Second, Persepolis.
The movie was banned from the movie theaters in Lebanon under the pretext that it portrays the Islamic republic of Iran in a bad way. Something which is supposed to upset many sympathizers of the revolution in Lebanon mainly Hezbollah and Amal.
The ban was a huge hit in the Hariri-media where they grabbed every chance to portray it as a dangerous development in Lebanese values of modernity and freedom. The issue (like almost everything in Lebanon) was politicized to such extreme extents in "intellectual" circles and journalists that one would think that Lebanon has become an Iranian Islamic satellite state.
Of course nobody mentioned the hypocrisy that during the rule of senior Hariri, many movies, books and artists were banned in Lebanon under a panoply of pretexts and no one of those same "intellectuals" cared to lift a finger or wast a drop of their precious ink on a newspaper because the "boss" is always over criticism.

Third, and last week, 20 pubs and restaurants in Gemmayze were closed by the ministry of tourism (part of the Hariri toolbox) under the pretext of noise pollution following a pajama demonstration of some residents of the Gemmayze street. Of course they're upset, saturday nights are busy in Gemmayze and the area is practically the only area in Lebanon where barhoppers can enjoy themselves. But of course totalitarian-style swift justice is not the only solution if the ministry never cared to study the issue carefully and propose a series of recommendations to deal with the problem.
No "intellectual" or Hariri-media cared to even comment on that fact and ideal criticism is obviously only reserved for political opponents.
Just to put things into perspective, one would imagine a huge international media campaign and millions of dollars poured into propagandist media outlets and journalists/intellectuals-for hire if that decision was that on a Hezbollah minister. Hence, Hypocrisy.

For anyone with an atom of common sense, Lebanese media and most of the intellectuals in Lebanon have become practically unbearable.


razan said...

Now that's what I call a comment, Wassim you should try it sometimes, it's cool.

Sasa says: "Razan's view is interesting - she does have a valid point which I wholeheartedly disagree with. And it opens on to something much bigger... the right of expatriates to be part of their home country's "civil space"."

I say: my point was not suggesting that expatriates do not have the right to be part of their "homeland" (please cite me where I said that). What I am saying is that while anyone can say whatever, anyone as in expats, tourists and insiders, their rhetoric should NOT suggest facts and truth. You cannot say "this" is the description of Damascus or "Damascus in words" but perhaps "this is what I have noticed, as a visitor" or whatever-you get the point. Or else you'll be misleading yourself and your readers. What I am saying is that we should take our posts, blogging, and language seriously. Accurately. And so we should take our reading to posts and comments, seriously.

Your blog is often critical to the western media's terminologies towards the middle east, you shouldn't be doing the same by linking to an expat's idealized and romanticized post and entitling your post as "Damascus in words" and introduce the post with "the description of Damascus". You say that you know you are introducing a romanticized picture of Damascus yet your presentation is self-righteous, not self-conscious that you and Qunfiz are expats.

The western media present its rhetoric "as" facts, and as "the" middle east. That's why the new media, which blogging is part of, is trying to provide an alternative middle east written and reported by its inhabitants not by imported so called journalists. Expats should be self-conscious that their visits to Damascus are "visits", and their reading to Damascus during these visits may or may not present the truthful image. And so far, every single post I read written by an expat Syrian blogger is romanticized and untruthful of Damascus, except Rime for that matter. That's because she is not a reactionary blogger or a journalist, her criticism of the western media is different from the rest, in my humble opinion.

Insiders as well, and according to their locations and internal dislocations do vary in their readings to Damascus or to Syria. But their readings as they vary, are different AND not in the same way from that of that expatas'. This is a bit complex idea and I wish to write about it this weekend. So bare with me on this now.

Sasa says: "that doesn't mean their [expats] opinion is any less valuable."

Again Sasa, please cite me where did I say that.

Sasa says: "the thing which annoys me the most is that there is some assumption that Insiders have access to some objective "truth" about their country."

Again, cite my words.

Sasa says: "Living in Damascus doesn't make your view any more neutral. It is coloured by experience just as much as Qunfuz's is coloured by sentiment."

Razan says: again?

Sasa: "Razan, you talk about a "true" Damascus - is your writing "true"? No, of course not, it is "your" Damascus - remember how you once wrote about our "Damascus"."

You said it yourself, I did say it is "my" Damascus, not "the description of Damascus." And I did entitle my post as "my imagined city".

Sasa: "Yes, I agree Qunfuz's post is a description of himself in Damascus. But you must accept that yours is also a description of yourself in Damascus. Just as mine are as well (notice the change in tone when I am posting from Damascus, compared to when I am posting from London)."

That's what I am saying. But your terminology and that of Qunfiz's does not imply what you're saying. You are presenting "the description" of "the" Damascus, not yours. You should be implying what you're saying.

razan said...

oh god!! sorry this comment is not to this post, i was just going to say hi here! and now i cannot delete the late comment.