While I do not agree that the name of the employee should have been announced, I obviously fully agree with the steps taken. Not only is firing the female employee and her male accomplice the right thing to do but it’s actually a “pioneering” step in the Lebanese fight against racism.
Never has a racism event gone this public and been met with accountability – and that is the only way we move forward with the issue of racism.
People like to preach about the importance of education in overcoming the issue of racism in Lebanon. I am all for the distinction between a racist country and racist individuals and based on that, I work on never trashing my country when I talk about racism. However, I also believe that education in Lebanon would lead nowhere in the issue of racism.
Education is important, definitely. But the education we get is one that the majority of Lebanese don’t – that’s the majority which lives in the rural regions of the country – the regions we very easily categorize as extremist. Those regions have such high poverty levels and so little educational levels that another solution needs to be devised.
Racism isn’t also a Lebanese problem. It is a worldwide problem that takes many forms. It transcends the hate towards others based on skin color. It is the intolerance towards another’s religion, the intolerance towards another’s nationality. And if a country doesn’t have a predominant problems with someone’s race, then they probably have a problem with differing religions. It is the problem of “difference.”
We dislike those with whom we can’t easily relate.
So what’s different between Lebanon and those supposedly racism-free countries? It’s quite simple: accountability. And that’s what works most with us Lebanese: a slap on the wrist when we do stuff wrong (fines for smoking, for not putting on the seatbelt, for speeding….)
People who get accused of racism in those countries have consequences to deal with. In our country, racism is met with indifference. A prominent TV anchor was blantly saying that an Ethiopian maid who committed suicide a few months ago was deranged (click here)- and he found no trouble at all in passing his ideology to his viewers. I’m sure he got high ratings for that episode as well.
If that anchor had met the same fate as the employee, people would have known that what he said was wrong. They would have known that talking badly against someone else just because you don’t like the skin they were born in is unacceptable. And they would have realized that it is no longer accepted to have it happen.
Their racism would then regress – it would get suppressed. And that is how other countries do it.