Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Lebanon urgently needs a new brain

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A body cannot possibly function without a brain. If the brain is defective, so is the body. The same applies to countries. And Lebanon is no exception. The brain of a country is its intelligentsia, thinkers, writers, journalists.

Lebanese self-proclaimed intelligentsia is an empty shell. It’s mainly composed of socialites. Arrogant and ridiculously snobbish, they had – and still have – an active hand in the outdated system that plagues Lebanon. They are the other face of corrupt politicians, the other side of the rotten establishment coin.

Even if, for the last decade, they pretended to be people lovers, freedom fighters and sovereignty advocates, they’ve clearly shown how little they cared about the people (they contemptuously call "the masses") and about the country’s freedom and sovereignty.

If they truly cared about the people, would they have justified the business establishment's refusal to raise the country’s minimum wage, for example? Do you really think they’re concerned if most Lebanese have barely the means to feed their families? If they sincerely cared about the country’s freedom and sovereignty, would so many of them have collaborated with the Syrian occupation then discreetly supported the 2006 Israeli war against Lebanon?

Don’t take my word for it. Check out their CV. See for yourself what they did during the Syrian occupation. You’ll find out that most of them held key positions in various media, and that many have made noticeable career progress during that dark period. Their late strife with the Syrian occupiers had nothing to do with Lebanon’s sovereignty, but with their sponsors’ bickering over power and money – coming from looting the country’s riches. Check out also what they wrote and said during the 2006 Lebanese-Israeli war. And if you’re still not convinced, ask them out, buy them a drink or two. Then, when they’re a little tipsy, casually throw the topic on the table and listen carefully to what they have to say.

On the other hand, how many scandals did Lebanon witness in last the couple of years? The garbage scandal, the food scandal, the medicines scandal, the money vanishing from the State’s treasury scandal, the illegal Internet scandal, the underage prostitution ring scandal, the list is endless. Now ask yourself how many of these scandals the papers they control have uncovered? Actually, don’t just ask, dig into their archive and find out the ugly truth.

To better understand what a journalist’s job is, you need watch only two movies: "All The President’s Men" and "Spotlight", and one TV series: "The Newsroom". You’ll realize that these socialites posing as journalists have never done their job. They just shared the news after each scandal became public.

Moreover, how many of them actually told the whole truth about the garbage crisis? How many of them have named the politicians and businessmen that caused it and profited from it? Some didn’t even see fit to mention, in their 2015 retrospective, the August 29 "anti-garbage" protest – the biggest multi-sectarian and non-politically affiliated protest in Lebanese history.

Actually, don’t go this far. Listen to politicians accusing each other of corruption, as they did in the past few months. Now try to find one media that decided to follow through the story, to uncover the truth, to publish in details who stole what, who’s truly corrupt and who’s not? If you can’t, ask why? Of course, these so-called journalists write their fake disgust of the political establishment. If they didn’t, they’d lose many readers and viewers. But as soon as a new story takes over, they go back to interviewing these same politicians, giving them every opportunity to keep lying to us.

What about their writers and thinkers friends? Don’t they always pontificate when some topic is trending, using empty populist and pseudo-patriotic poetry to mask the utter void of their thinking? Don’t they always wash their hands from any responsibility in the disastrous shape of the country, as if they had nothing to do with it? Don’t they always shamelessly hold the people responsible – the people they condescendingly call "morons"?

Don’t be fooled, this bunch forms a mafia of sorts. Not so different in fact from all the others mafias sucking Lebanon dry and turning it into a failed State.

There are a lot of excellent journalists, talented writers and brilliant minds in Lebanon. Some have work, some don’t. Those who have work, do an excellent job. But all are dependent on the whim of this exclusive mafia, on the good pleasure of these few mandarins.

If we ever want a viable country, a sovereign nation and a true democracy, this so-called intelligentsia should share the same ship to a galaxy far far away with the rest of Lebanon’s corrupt establishment. Along with social, economical and political change, Lebanon needs a cultural revolution, one that will replace this mediocre and arrogant mafia with actual thinkers, true writers and real journalists.

In other words: Lebanon needs a new brain. Urgently.


© Claude El Khal, 2016

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