Nothing but the truth. Even if against me.

Nothing but the truth. Even if against me.



Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Aoun, Bassil and the Expats: Make Lebanon "Normal" First?

More so Aoun than Hariri, but the new Lebanese "administration" has been promising heaven on earth in Lebanon. To his many visitors crawling at his feet in Baabda, the new president - the "father of everyone" as they call him here (although he has been more generous to his own immediate family than to other Lebanese) - is promising pie in the sky. Not unlike Trump with his "make America great again" slogan, Aoun is even promising that Gebran Bassil, his beloved spoiled son-in-law brat, will soon be herding expat Lebanese cats from all over the five continents where millions of emigrant Lebanese have sought refuge over a couple of centuries, disgusted by decade after decade of unrelenting primitive governance and corruption, barbarism and sectarian violence and massacres, racism, tribalism, and ultra-religiosity, and other such hallmarks of backward Middle Eastern societies.

America may have been "great" once, and so Trump's slogan might have some relevance, although he too is promising Americans lots of hot air because "going back" is never a solution to a world moving forward. But Lebanon was never "great" to its people  to begin with. It may have been so to the feudal political bosses living high in their castles, and to the religious neanderthals lording over their herds from their grand monasteries, in collusion together to maintain the ordinary Lebanese sedated in a state of stupefied religious torpor with beliefs that the solution to their miserable lives are with a multitude of "holy men" (saints, hermits, ulemas, sayyids, etc.), and not in seeking better government. In Lebanon, religion is really the hashish of the people, and it makes them unlikely to rise up in revolution against the rotten status quo from which they continue to flee to the far flung corners of the world.

In their brief moments of lucidity, the Lebanese have always fled the country in disgust. It was never "good" to them. They abandoned entire villages and towns and moved en masse to the Americas, Australia, Europe and elsewhere because they were hungry, because there is no electricity, because there is no running water, because you suffer humiliation after humiliation for every piece of garbage official document, because you have to pay exorbitant fees and bribes to assholes and politically-appointed peons who man every public administration. In their new homelands, they discover that ordinary people are respected, that governments function normally, that there is some system in place, in contrast to a Lebanon where nothing works, government has no respect for its people, and where there is no system. I know from my own experience as an emigrant Lebanese that most of my expatriate countrymen curse Lebanon in their private conversations (كس إخت هالبلد وملا شعب، فارط، حاكمينو الزعران، بسوقو متل الحيوانات etc.), all the while professing their adulation for it in public.

And so the emigrant cats that Bassil now wants to herd back to the motherland will never come back for real. They may pay lip service and attend the fancy functions that Bassil throws for them in Brazil, Panama, and New York. They may declare their love for the country of their grandmother in their heavily accented languages, but they know deep down why they will never come back, nor will they acquire the Lebanese citizenship that Bassil is urging to request back. Why? Because they don't want to be taken for a ride; they don't want to be milked of their money for some fake patriotic slogan; they have dealt with Lebanese consulates and embassies and they know how incompetent and insulting their experiences with Lebanese bureaucrats have been to their dignity; they know from their relatives that trash and rubbish litter every street and road in Lebanon; they have seen the millions of plastic bags and bottles that litter the forests and the Mediterranean; they have seen the smog that hovers every morning over the coastline, spewed as thick black smoke from trucks, vans, buses and cars; they know that there are no public beaches in Lebanon because the political Mafia has stolen every meter of public seafront land to build their own resorts and force people into a system of servitude; they know that in Lebanon you can't simply go to a beach, put down a towel and enjoy the ocean; instead you have to deal with money-grabbing urchins with valet parking, exorbitant entry fees, and swim alongside corrupt rich snots who won't let their indentured "brown-colored" maid-slaves take a dip in the pool lest they stain the water! They know that in Lebanon, any man in a long robe, with strange headgear, and a beard is unelected, and immune to criticism and to accountability, because apparently these three signs are the Almighty's hallmarks of wisdom from the Bronze Age.

To the millions of expatriate and emigrant Lebanese: Bassil has two hidden agendas in his beggaring you to help your old homeland: 1- He wants your money to build more buildings and more roads, the only two functioning industries in Lebanon that unfortunately keep destroying Lebanon's nature and environment; he should instead be working for a modern public transportation system that will reduce cars, reduce the need for more roads, clean the air and the water, etc.... 2- He wants you to register for your Lebanese citizenship because you are Christians in your vast majority, and by your registration in the population rosters, you artificially increase the Christian population relative to the Muslims, and Bassil can now say that he must defend Christian rights. In other words, you are like cattle in Bassil's mindset. He just wants more cows in his Christian, but otherwise dirty, barn.

To Aoun and Bassil: Stop begging the expatriates and emigrants to acquire Lebanese citizenship and return to the conditions from which they fled in the first place. Start by fixing what is wrong in the country, and that is unfortunately pretty much everything (electricity, water, Internet, roads, air, incivility, ocean, forests, corruption, dirt and garbage everywhere....), and then the expats and emigrants will come by themselves and will have some dignity in spending money and acquiring the Lebanese citizenship.

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