Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Archive for May, 2011

How to obscure legitimate criticism by stuffing it with rubbish

Posted by worriedlebanese on 31/05/2011

Retired Brigadier Hoteit

When an argument is blatantly stupid, I tend to ignore it. But Brigadier Amine Hoteit’s take on Harirism is so shockingly bad that I couldn’t simply ignore it. Like most cases of sloppy argumentation, it says more about the author than the subject he is supposed to be tackling.
As I’ve done in numerous times with authors suffering from an extreme case of aounophobia, I’ll look into the argumentation of an author suffering from an extreme case of haririphobia.
It’s actually rather easy to make a strong case against Hariri (Rafik and Saadaddine) and Harirism (the first generation pro-Syrian version and the second generation anti-Syrian version). But Amine Hoteit willfully ignores “facts” (actions, mechanisms, dynamics, policies…) and indulges in slurs. The purpose of the slur is not to demonstrate but to damage or insult by resorting to insinuations and allegations.
Let’s have a quick look at the opinion paper Amin Hoteit published today:
من العنصرية الصهونية…. الى العنصرية الحريرية .. فالتمرد !؟” that can be translated as “From zionist racism to hariri racism… hence rebellion!”
More than a third of the paper is devoted to the effects of Zionism on Palestine. Some of the arguments are valid, but others are quite inaccurate and all of them are actually irrelevant… though crowd pleasing! They fit the official mantra on Palestine and Zionism. The author simply rehashes grudges (with Zionism, Israel, the international community…). And he makes no effort to link them to Hariri and Harirism. His aim is to depict Zionism as the epitome of evil and ugliness, and then transfer this ugliness to Harirism through a simple equation:
Zionism =  ugly + evil = racism
Harirism = racism = ugly + evil
(you’ll find a similar version of this equation in March XIV media when discussing Hezbollah or the CPL and equating either one of them to Fascism).

Then Hoteit sums up the constitutional history of Lebanon in a couple of lines, denouncing confessionalism on his way and rehashing tired (and erroneous) arguments about the system, quite common in the so-called “lebanese-left”. Interestingly enough, he doesn’t go as far as equating confessionalism to zionism, because his aim is not to denounce the system, but to condemn one of its player: Hariri (and/or his followers). On his way, he wastes two lines to bring King Louis XIV into the picture. All that to simply use the expression “l’Etat c’est moi” in order to sum up Hariri’s political style of government. Now this paragraph is particularly interesting because it kind of morphs Hariri-the son and Hariri-the father (their deeds and those of their supporters), and confuses patronage, nepotism, confessionalism & sultanism under one heading: “racism”! Only then we get to the central issue which is never named though it is described as if it were a typical Hariri phenomenon. However, all the elements Hoteit points out are those of the “patronage” system that has grown since the late 1950s and prospered in the 1990s so much so that they have paralyzed state mechanisms and institutions. Nothing of what he says is actually specific to Hariri (father or son) or his patronage network. It is actually now the ONLY way politics are conducted in Lebanon, and its hard to see any exception to this practice because it has become the norm and a characteristic trait of our political culture. So why single out Hariri and his patronage network? and what does this conduct have to do with racism? Sure Hariri’s network is amongst the biggest within the state (a fact that makes his non participation in the country’s governance impossible), and sure there is an important confessional dimension to it (though he has many christian clients and “influences” several christian sub-networks)… but that doesn’t make it racist. The principle of the patronage system is “mouhasasa” (dividing spoils or dividing into shares)… and that is actually quite an inclusive system.

And here’s his final argument:
 هنا نخلص للقول ان  تطهير  الدولة  و المجتمع من عنصرية تهدر الحقوق و الصلاحيات و تهدم دولة المؤسسات لاقامة المشيخة ، امر لا بد منه و في التخلص من هذه العنصرية خطوة على طريق التصدي للعنصرية الصهيونية, which could be translated in the following way: “Hence we come to conclude that cleansing the state and society of racism that wasted rights and powers, and destroys state institutions (the rule of law) for the sake of establishing a sheikhdom, is a must. And getting rid of this racism is a step towards addressing Zionist racism”.

Again, Hoteit never established in what way Harirism is racist, and the conduct (and culture) he refers to, and that he rightly accuses of destroying state institutions, are actually shared by the whole political class.

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