Friday, January 13, 2017

The Lebanese people DID NOT have a fistfight on that MEA flight

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There was a fistfight on board of the MEA flight to London and a passenger recorded it on his smartphone. When the video started circulating on social media, some self-righteous people couldn’t but pontificate about the Lebanese people being this and the Lebanese people being that, and how all of us should feel ashamed.

If you think about it, it’s rather strange they saw it this way. There were three people involved in this fight: a bully, a bullied air hostess and the guy that defended her. The story could have been told from three different angles. But these self-righteous people decided that it should only be seen from the bully’s angle and that shame should automatically fall on all of us.

It’s rather strange they didn’t see and tell this story from the obvious positive angle. “A Lebanese stood up and defended an assaulted MEA hostess”. They could have praised his courage, his chivalry, and took pride in our shared nationality. The #proudtobelebanese hashtag would have never been so appropriate.

It’s even stranger they didn’t see and tell the story from the cabin crew’s angle: “An MEA air hostess insulted and assaulted on a flight to London”. They could have expressed their support, their compassion, perhaps even demanded the presence of a policeman, an Air Marshall, on every flight, so aggressions like these would never happen again.

But no, they only saw the violent man, the bully, and decided that he was the living incarnation of every single one of us, the Lebanese people, and that we all need to repent for his sins. Perhaps they fancy themselves as part of some sort of elite, superior in every way, looking down at the talking beasts the rest of us are, violent, primitive and awfully uncivilized.

How arrogant one must be to believe that. How arrogant and how delusional. Because there’s nothing to support it, especially if when to comes to Lebanese violence during flights.

I, for example – or any Lebanese I know (and I know quite a few) – never picked up a fight on board of a plane. I also took countless flights to and out of Lebanon, and never witnessed any fight whatsoever. But I was told airplane incidents like these were very common, on every continent and in every language. So I went on Youtube, I typed: “fight on airplane” and – surprise! – I found plenty of footage from around the world. Here are a couple of samples from China and the US.

Ironically, you never hear these holier-than-thou inquisitors say that the American or the Chinese people should feel ashamed for the action of one or two individuals. They only do it with Lebanese. Go figure why. Perhaps their need to feel superior is too cowardly to express itself too far from home. Or maybe, deep down, they feel so inferior to other nationalities, they always have the urge to trash their own.

But I prefer to be positive – it’s part of my New Year resolutions! – and think it was a passing lapse in judgment. And hope they’ll join me in cheering the man that stood up to the bully and defended the damsel in distress.

We are the way we see the world, someone once said. In this particular case, I choose to see the chivalrous act of one Lebanese rather than the despicable bullying of another. What about you, what kind of Lebanese are you?

© Claude El Khal, 2017