America, Syria And All Those Arab Hypocrites

It’s funny how many people are suddenly against foreign interference in Syria. I’ve been wondering for the past week, as news of a possible American strike against Damascus surfaced, where all those people who cared about the sovereignty of Syria were for the past two years?

Arabs are interesting people. You only need to say America once in order to get them rallying behind their one common secondary enemy. The United States is the world’s biggest terrorist organization, some of them would say. You can sit back and laugh. The problem is that they firmly believe that the problem is actually the United States.

Media and people have rallied against any possible American strike, against the “imperialistic” regime that has targeted the countries of the Middle East for a long, long time. They started recalling Afghanistan and Iraq. They reminded people of the thousands who are dead because of this American greed for oil and power, although they failed to mention that Syria isn’t on the oil map. How dare they think they can use our airspace to fight our neighbors? How dare they think they can do whatever they please and not find repercussions? What right does the United States have to attack Syria?

Or so say the people whose brand of interference is not satisfied by America. Say no to foreign interference in Syria. Except foreign is only that when it’s non-Arab, no? Because somehow Arabs get to interfere in each other’s business as much as they want but it’s more than acceptable because they’re all one big happy family, raised on accepting each other’s boundaries and liberties.

For the past two years, every single Middle Eastern country has made it its bread and butter to interfere in Syrian affairs daily. But no one had a problem with that, right? Everyone is against foreign interference in Syria – except when said interference is at the hands of Hezbollah and Iran? Why? Because they’re helping the region keep one of the last remaining regimes against Israel’s zionist plans?

How exactly is the Assad regime resisting Israel? When was the last time that regime attempted to liberate the Golan Heights? How many bullets has Assad fired at the Israeli army in the past twenty years? What did Assad do when his country was bombed by Israel a few months ago?

How does anything that Assad did regarding Israel actually qualify as being a “resistance” regime? Does threatening Israel through Hezbollah in case the United States does anything to his country actually count?

The way I see it, the only country getting screwed in that non-sensical logic is Lebanon, as always. How long are we supposed to be the playground for that Syrian regime whenever it feels like it? How long are we supposed to be an extension of the war in Syria just because some parties in our country can’t mind their own business? How many more explosions that are caused, whether directly or indirectly by said parties, are we supposed to withstand just because they decided to go rescue their best friend next door? How many more independent war and peace decisions are we supposed to swallow just because they can do whatever they please? How is anything those parties are doing remotely acceptable to the entire well-being of this supposed nation that we want to call home?

Or is it because the Syrian regime is in bed with Iran and is therefore, by association, fighting Israel? And is “Israel” the only factor that is relevant enough to help us shape whatever policy or opinion we want to have? Is this “resistance” axis, whose only activity is that restricted to empty words, enough reason for us as Lebanese to let our country be screwed every single day?

Or are Arabs really afraid that those Western countries they despise actually have a form of accountability to their politicians that might see them removed from office that their countries would never, ever have? Because they’ll never see their parliaments vote against strikes? Because they’ll never see their presidents defer such decisions to legislative bodies? Because they’ll never see their leaders lose elections due to their political choices such as the ones that come to matters of war?

I also keep wondering how many people have actually forgotten what the Syrian regime is actually capable of when it comes to atrocities. Somehow, the discussion has become to let the regime stay because those rebels are worse. We’re fighting with the regime because we don’t want those “takfir” people to reach power. How abused has that word become lately? And how scared have people become of it without knowing that those who are supposedly fighting those “takfiryyin” are no different? This isn’t a matter of choosing the lesser evil. This isn’t a matter of bad versus worse. This is a matter of worst versus worst.

Do you not remember the years of human rights abuse that the Syrian regime has committed against Lebanese? Are you not familiar with the different types of experimentations that the regime has done on Lebanese people just because they defied it somehow? Do you not remember the children in Houla who were murdered ruthlessly last year by regime forces? How is this better than those “animals” who eat hearts and behead Christians? Are Christian lives more valuable just because they’re minorities? Can we stop using such useless arguments just because they allow you to have some form of cover for you coming out in support of a regime that is as horrible as the rebels you despise just because they don’t fit in your political mold of choice?

And then there are those who suddenly woke up from their two year coma and noticed there are human rights violation in Syria. Chemical weapons are a no-no – that is the red line that must not be crossed. Never mind the countless red lines that have already been crossed in Syria over the past two years as the entire world stood by watching. Human lives are not really worthy when their nationality is not of the decent kind. Those people have, therefore, decided that it makes sense for the United States to finally interfere in a “limited” strike whose effects might be anything but “limited.” Because human rights are somehow best perserved by increasing violence in a country that is already torn apart by violence? Because there’s no other solution to Syria except the easiest solution that involves sending missiles gifted from Washington, London and Paris to Damascus with love?

I don’t know who used sarin gas in Syria. Arguments can go both ways. Proof, be it fabricated or not, can also go both ways. Rebels or regime. Terrorists or the terrorist fighting those terrorists. But does it even matter who used sarin? The ship of common sense questions regarding Syria has sailed a long, long time ago. And by the looks of it, that ship won’t be coming back anytime soon because if there’s anything that life in the Middle East has taught us, it’s that the people of the region tend to think with their emotions when it comes to the matters of the head. But when it comes to politics, emotions have no role.

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Lebanese Observations of the 2012 United States Presidential Election

 

Many may find this hard to believe but I was much more enthusiastic about the US presidential elections in 2008 than I was about the same event in 2012. It was to the extent that an American friend of mine from Kansas sent me McCain bumper stickers which I still have on the car until today. I saw nothing but McCain/Palin back then. It was the only thing that made sense and certainly not Obama. And I lost.

In 2012, I decided to be more cautious. I didn’t like Romney and I didn’t like Obama either. The former had moments of sheer stupidity (“it’s their culture”) while the latter didn’t make sense to me at all. But I decided to back a candidate based on my convictions and I went reluctantly with Romney, fully knowing that any of the candidates winning won’t have a major effect on our situation as Lebanese and of the Middle East as a whole. Both of them will adopt the same color by number American foreign policy: If you’re not Israeli, you don’t matter.

So as I stayed up all night to follow the results of what had promised to be a close election, I had more than a few observations to make.

Who’s running again?

The amount of Americans that panicked when state results started rolling is too high. It seems few understand the electoral college board system and few had actually looked at the polls in different states to know that the early lead Romney got was absolutely meaningless. This conforms with a report that many Americans had absolutely no idea who was running for elections with google searches peaking a few days prior to election day with queries of “who’s running for US president elections?” and “am I registered to vote.” I wonder how they were able to escape the deafening ad campaigns. Personally, I think it’s sad that I understand the American electoral system better than a lot of Americans. How could you expect people who are that disassociated from their country to know how to choose?

All those Godless places! 

Once the results started forming a concrete picture of an Obama advantage, the polarization started. Half of my American Twitter followers and Facebook friends were in absolute outrage whilst the other half was in orgasmic bliss. Some were in hell, others were on cloud nine. And it is then that the level of the discussion started sinking so low it reminded me of our elections of which we’re sure to get a taste in a few months. Many Americans believe Obama is the second coming of Christ, a savior who will ride in to change everything. Others literally think he’s Muslim who was sworn in back in 2008 over the Qoran, not the bible – and they don’t want that to govern them. But be careful, they’re “not being disrespectful to Muslims.” It’s just how can “a Muslim govern God’s country”? When a discussion ensued because of those tweets, those Americans made it known that they believe the US is the only “country of God” in the world. Every other country is a Godless place. Good to know.

Your opinion is invalid

Some of the issues that were voted upon in some states were assisted suicide, such as in the state of Massachusetts. One of the people whose vote had been against such a legislation (it ended up passing) was busy throwing a fit about how “selfish” it was for patients to ask for it. So I personally replied that “it’s not that simple.” The answer I got, which was one of many that night, is: you’re not a US citizen so your opinion is invalid. It seems that assisted suicide and abortion and other humanitarian debates are US-only issues. Because physicians abroad do not face these decisions. Not one bit. My medical education also makes my opinion even more invalid.

Let’s get high! 

Let’s talk about legalizing marijuana. Honestly, I have no idea why this is even an issue. Marijuana should not be legalized. Whether hippie liberals believe it’s of benefit or not is out of the question. Marijuana is a known hallucinogen and it has been associated with other medical conditions as well (check this). The fact that it’s even a question on the ballot is, in my opinion, absolutely silly. And many Americans seem to agree with me on this. Conversely, many seem to disagree. Nothing should come between them and their pot – not even common sense. So now when marijuana-caused adverse incidents increase, who’s to blame?

Hope or lack thereof 

Once the results of the elections were almost certainly pointing to an Obama victory, the rhetoric changed into people who decided that their country is now a hub of communism with Obama being the world’s new version of Hitler. They were no longer proud to be Americans. Their country is such a disgrace. On the other side of the spectrum, you have those whose pride and hope in the US has just been re-established. And I sat wondering: if these citizens of the world’s biggest economy, toughest superpower and leading nation are this weak-minded, what does this say about all of us living in absolute hell-holes? I then realized that Americans need to toughen up. Their convictions regarding their country should not be this weak. They should not waver because of an election, regardless of results – especially not when their country has so much to offer to them. When your country is envied by many, you are not allowed to be this weak towards it and this goes to those who gained back hope and those who lost it.

Hollywood

The absolute majority of Hollywood actors and actresses, even some who hadn’t made their opinion known before, came out in support for Obama as the results were unveiled, which was very much expected. Some, such as Whoopi Goldberg, subtly accused all those who were dissatisfied with Obama’s victory with racism and invited them to get the “crap outta here.” Very smooth.

Trump’s Wig

Donald Trump was absolutely freaking out. He even called for a revolution and was immediately turned into an immediate mashable article. I guess he doesn’t know that revolutions never work for men with wigs. Never, ever.

Canada

The Americans that were dissatisfied with the Obama victory suddenly wanted to move to Canada. I found it odd that they wanted to move to a country which employs many of the policy’s they’re hating on: welfare, same gender marriage, etc… regardless of what I personally think of these policies. Canadians commented that this reflects the lack of knowledge they have of their neighbor to the north.  A level-headed discussion with these Canadians, who preferred Obama, showcased the absolute necessity for Americans to learn more about the world in their education system. After all, for many Lebanon is but a city in Ohio and Canada is that very cold place no one wants to visit. Of course, this does not apply to all Americans because many know more about Lebanon and Canada than many of us but, again, these are just observations.

The Lebanese

The Lebanese people who were observing the elections were many. Once an Obama victory became certain, those with Romney immediately disappeared in typical Lebanese fashion. Those with Obama, however, made it known that they were happy. Some were even more enthusiastic about it than the most enthusiastic of Americans with rhetoric that slipped down, again in typical Lebanese fashion, to lower than the lowest tone employed by pissed off Republicans. It seems that the GOP is a bunch of anti-gay, anti-women, pro-rape, anti-science, anti-environment, anti-common sense, anti-all that is good, pro-religion, pro-everything that is bad. Delusional much? You betcha, à la Palin. But you can’t discuss that with them because they’re Lebanese and one does not have a decent discussion with a Lebanese. I bet they’d be interested to know that the pro-rape senate candidates lost their seats with a lot of Republicans not voting for them.

The Bottom Line

For the rest of the world, nothing will change upon Obama getting re-elected, especially not for us with both of them having similar effective foreign policies. Even when it comes to the internal workings of the United States, very few things will change between now and 2014 with the country being as divided as it is today: the House controlled by the Republicans and the Senate controlled by the Democrats. Obama will have to use his executive function, more than his legislative branch, in order to be able to do anything. And what he’ll be able to do is very limited. Which means that those whose candidate lost have no reason to fear their country would turn into Cuba. And those who won shouldn’t be this comfortable regarding the future because it may not be this bright. A few questions though: Obama’s failure, as perceived by his drastically declining numbers compared to 2008, was attributed to Bush. If nothing changes by 2016, will his failure be attributed to Bush as well?

Will the Republicans see the need for a restructuring of their party away from the radicalization of the Tea Party, one which doesn’t represent the core values of the Republican party, and move towards moderates in order to be able to contain the growing disparity between their views and those of mainstream Americans especially with changes in American demographics which may turn them, if not tackled, into a party that isn’t able to win nationally?

Good luck to president Obama and congrats to those who voted for him. Hard luck to Mitt Romney who gave a phenomenal underdog race to give one of the tightest popular vote results in recent history and hard luck to those who voted for him. However, the winner after the American elections was the whole world for being able to observe democracy being applied at its finest and that is something that all Americans should be proud of.

In other news, I really need a crystal ball to choose winners to back next time. This losing streak of mine has been going on for far too long.

The White Guilt of American Elections

Subtle racism has found its way to the American political scene in the final days before Americans head to the ballots to vote on who should run their country for the next four years. The issues both candidates stand for are known. Conservative versus liberal, right wing vs left wing, grosso modo. However, with elections being less than 48 hours away, the talk isn’t centered around the core issues anymore.

The American elections are now all about demographics: who’s voting for who. Because demographic talk is important to see how the country might vote on November 6th.

Pro-Obama analysts underplay the shift in numbers from 2008 to 2012 as something that can be compensated for on election day. Pro-Romney analysts extrapolate the shift in numbers to claim a premature victory they desperately seek. But what is the demographic talk they speak of?

It is that of Catholic and Protestant voters. It is that of independent voters. It is that of women. And do you know what’s the common thing among all those demographics that are up for grabs still?

They’re all white. Or caucasian, whichever term is more politically correct.

In the dying minutes before Americans choose, the tactic is to bring out the colonial white guilt that hasn’t died down since America’s old days. Bringing out the guilt happens even in subtle comedy that, when not read into, is another funny gimmick to make people laugh. However, after a careful minute of reflection, a seemingly harmless skit holds a deeper meaning than it presumably intends to.

For struggling campaigns, the play on the emotional cords of voters is essential to rally them up come election time. The emotional cord for white American voters is the issue of racism. If you don’t vote for this candidate, then you are subtly racist. The fear from the label pushes some people to vote against their convictions in order not to fall into the stereotype.

And this is the inherent hypocrisy of the American system.

More than 90% of African American voters are voting for Obama come election day. Are they accused of racism? No. How many of those voters are more inclined to vote for Obama because of the color of his skin? How many are voting for him based on their convictions and political stance? Both questions are quite irrelevant because they don’t apply here. They apply to “others.”

On the other hand, caucasian Americans do not have the prerogative to vote for their convictions guilt-free. It’s because they weren’t the segment of American society that was marginalized for years and years. But does the fact that African Americans had a very tough phase in their history warrant the rhetoric that has sunk to the level it’s at today?

And we’re not even going into the baggage that voting for one candidate over the other carries: xenophobe, homophobe, female-phobe, anything-phobe.

The bottom line is: it’s not racism and you’re not a racist when you’re voting for someone not because of the color of his skin but because of what he stands for. It’s not racism and you’re not  a racist if you haven’t really thought about a candidate’s skin color until now. Come election day, everyone – regardless of their skin color – should vote to who they believe can get their country in the right direction. The “white result” of 2008 has shown that the majority of Americans don’t care about a candidate’s skin color. So for those who voted to one candidate in order to prove they weren’t racist in 2008, mission accomplished, no need to feel guilty if you cast an opposite ballot this time around. One thing to be said though is shame on media that would revert to such cheap tactics in order to get their preferred candidate a boost.

 

Benetton’s New Ad Campaign “Unhate” – Ridiculous or Ingenious?

Upon checking my Facebook home feed yesterday, I was struck by pictures of men kissing. No, I’m not homophobic but yes, I was taken aback by them.

Upon closer inspection, I saw that those pictures are of world leaders kissing. The caption on the bottom right was Benetton’s logo. And then I understood: this is a marketing ploy aimed at something. But what is that “something”?

It seems Benetton is supporting the “Unhate” foundation, which according to their page, “seeks to contribute to the creation of a new culture of tolerance.”

While I am fully supportive of the cause, our world definitely needs more tolerance, is it really Benetton’s place to put up these ads, start the foundation and work for it?

First, I find the ads borderline offensive and somewhat ridiculous. First, the concept of “unhate” does not involve world leaders kissing each other on the lips. I see the controversy in the idea but an ad campaign revolving around activism should at least have a firm ground from which those exposed can start from. I cannot even imagine Obama hugging Chavez. Then how about them kissing?

Second, Benetton is a clothing company that does fashion. The days when my parents used to drag me there to get clothes are long over but I still remember their clothes having good quality. I mean, the raincoat my parents got me when I was five got passed down to my brothers and still exists somewhere as a memorabilia. But no matter. When a company does “fashion,” is it also in its spectrum of business to go the activism route? I hardly think so. I am not the most knowing when it comes to fashion (nor advertising) but, in my head, it makes more sense for an ad by a fashion company to make a fashion statement than for it to call for activism. The ads Benetton unleashed do not serve the former but serve the latter. However, do they even serve the latter properly?

This leads us to:

Third, no they do not because the ads are borderline irrelevant. The only traction these ads will get is via the condemning of the Vatican and the people who are shocked by these ads. Will the message be assimilated by those expose? Will they start “unhating” and “kiss” their enemies? I hardly think so. At most, those who love the ads will rave about how ingenious they are for a few days. Those offended will throw a fit and then forget about it sooner or later, simply because our attention span is really shorter than that of a fish. For a marketing campaign to remain relevant, it needs to have continuity and longevity. I do not see the Benetton campaign having either of those.

Maybe a kiss on the cheek would have been, ironically, less traitorous than a kiss on the mouth. I don’t understand how the concept of “unhate” can happen when you’re ridiculing the beliefs of two of the world’s biggest belief systems by having the Pope kiss the Sheikh of Al-Azhar. Or it could possibly be old-fashioned yours truly who believes that tolerance starts with respecting the different other. I don’t see much respect into getting a photoshopped Obama french-kissing a photoshopped Hu Jintao. But what’s worse is that many people won’t know these pictures are indeed photoshopped and will assume that the Pope in fact kissed Sheikh Al Azhar or that Angela Merkel is now having an affair with Nicolas Sarkozi. People will assume the pictures are “real” and once the ball gets rolling with “reality” there’s no stopping it.

These are the controversial ad pictures:

North Korean and South Korean presidents

Obama and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao

Obama and Chavez

Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu

Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy

The Pope and Sheikh Al Azhar

 

And to make things even more absurd, the ads are not even original:

Birthers Don’t Make Sense

I have not been following U.S. Politics closely lately, but I will become up to date with everything going on there as election time draws nearer.

I am also not a supporter of Mr. Obama. Those who know me should know that I would be considered a Republican in the U.S. Political spectrum.

However, the current wave of “criticism” against Barack Obama simply doesn’t make sense. Birthers, as they are called, are questioning the legitimacy of Obama’s birth on U.S. Soil, to the extent that he actually came forth with his birth certificate.

Not only is this a non-issue, with much more severe topics with which Obama can be confronted due to his less than stellar performance as president, but it’s also nonsensical.

A person cannot run for president of the United States unless he/she was born on U.S. soil – i.e: acquiring the U.S. citizenship later on in life does not entitle you to run. In other terms, I can never become president of the United States, but my cousins can. So do “birthers” really think that Obama wouldn’t have checked out as a legitimate candidate when he first ran that they’re questioning it now? You’d think the C.I.A or whichever front responsible for vetting candidates would make sure they are constitutional before letting them be elected.

U.S. Politics, with Obama being forced to show his birth certificate and his birth location becoming the issue of the moment, has sunk to a new low. And it doesn’t end here… Obama’s university grades are being questioned now as not as “high” as originally thought to be. When the world is busy trying to contain oil prices, handle revolutions and find peace solutions, Americans are being forced to deal with yet another issue that is far, far away from the issues that really count.