Sunday, July 03, 2005

I have heard from Adam Shatz regarding my critique of his Nation's article below. I wrote him back. I still stand by my outrage at the recent Nation's coverage of Middle East events, and of the Shatz' piece on Qasir, while acknoledging that Shatz represents the better position in the Nation as far as the Middle East is concerned. US media coverage of Lebanon (and that includes Nation) exhibits disturbing tendencies of racism/classism/sectarianism all mixed together. The other thing about the Qasir thing is this: it is common in Lebanon for right-wing intellectuals to justify their current positions by drawing attention to their past (years or decades ago) leftist positions. This is like justifying the positions of the neo-cons in the US by drawing attention to their past liberal or leftist positions. One is to be judged on her/his position, NOW. Now, not yesterday or the day before yesterday. This is what Shatz (and leftist supporters of Qasir) try to do. Of course, and at the risk of repeating my self here, I fiercely condemn the assassination of Qasir and others in Beirut, and have saluted Qasir's courage against Syrian domination (but does not salute his lack of courage against Saudi oppression, or the racism and sectarianism of An-Nahar). Saudi Arabia is very visible in Lebanon these days, and a campaign of buying off Sunni clerics is being conducted in earnest. I was invited to appear on Al-Manar TV which had hosted me in every visit in the past. I had to explain to them that American law prevents me (as an American citizen) from appearing on Al-Manar as the new law prohibits "material or moral" support to an organization that Bush considers to be a "terrorist" organization. And Al-Manar has been thus classified. I can easily argue that no TV Station worldwide is more guilty of racial and ethnic agitation and the spewing of hate than Bush's own Fox News TV. But who is following consistent standards here. The new lifting of ban on Palestinian work in many occupations in Lebanon does not allow for the unionization of Palestinians in the labor force. I really feel that the new Lebanese cabinet (with the participation of Hizbullah) will open Lebanon's doors to cruel globalization. And just as under Syrian domination, the labor force will be subjugated and pacified. World Bank and IMF will applaud; and Wolfowitz may even visit this country to "attend to the needs of the poor." Maybe AUB will invite him to pontificate on his methods for attending to "the needs of the Iraqi poor." A well known Arab opposition leader explained this to me about Lebanon' Sunnis: he said that you have to understand the complexity. Sunni public opinion includes admiration for Hariri as a Sunni regional political symbol, but also includes support for Zarqawi and Saddam, he said. Figure that one out. This is what political psychologists call "cognitive dissonance." I have no admiration for my alma matur, AUB, whatever. I loved it when Egyptian recepient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (George W. Bush won the prize for physics that year) told this story to an AUB crowd while receiving an honorary doctorate a week ago. He said that when he started his career, he applied for a position at AUB only to be told that "he lacks qualifications." That is the AUB I know. For those who care, I will appear live on Sawt Ash-Sha`b Radio (the moutpiece of the Lebanese Communist Party) this Tuesday afternoon (Beirut Hummus Time Zone). The topic will be "Karl Marx and Falafil: the forgotten papers."