Wednesday, June 13, 2012

On How to Square a Circle

Some friends brought my attention to a recent article on al Akhbar English by Saad-Ghorayeb. To say I disagree with this long, jargon-laden article is an understatement. At times I suspect the author does not even believe what she is writing, so convoluted is the reasoning. In short, the premise is that Assad is good because he opposes imperialism, which is bad. If you want to be good and show that you support the Palestinian cause then you must support Assad. Anything else is a betrayal, and those who do so are guilty, at best, of false consciousness.

It's the language that has intrigued me, the subtle brushing under the carpet of what is really quite monstrous. For example in spite of the horrific behaviour of Assad's army, the best that Saad-Ghorayeb can muster is to describe the condemnation of his regime as based on, "unsubstantiated allegations of war crimes". This perspective is not surprising, as I've noticed that the Arab faux anti-imperialists reject the narrative of any news or public statement that does not emanate from totalitarian systems.

Of course in their discourse you can call such systems anything but totalitarian, because if you do then you are still a victim of the oppressor's insidious brainwashing. It is curious the intellectual mind-bending that is emerging from this camp as they justify the brutality and oppression of such systems in the name of resisting hegemony or for the promised land of a liberated Palestine. Deliberate ignorance of all the awful things that are being done in the name of the "cause" is helped by shrill denunciations of the "other" side's torture. So if you mention the torture in Libya, somebody will respond about Guantanamo, if you talk about the killing in Syria, they will bring up Bahrain. It is as if, in their simplistic view of the world there is only black and white, only the West and the East. This is reinforced by Saad-Ghorayeb herself, when she cites Lenin's own "with us or against us" perspective - I wonder where we have heard that before? - and uses that as the justification for condemning anybody who does not support Assad whilst still supporting the Palestinians.

Incredibly, Saad-Ghorayeb blames those who criticise Assad for failing, "to deliver a political solution for a conflict that now belongs entirely to larger geopolitical players". It is beyond me how she expects anybody to deliver a political solution when Assad's tanks have occupied the squares where peaceful protesters once gathered and whilst those who have peacefully called for reform have been beaten and, in most cases, shot at. Of course the circular argument used by Saad-Ghorayeb is that such repression never happened, and where it happened it was a minor mistake, irrelevant if one takes a look at the "big picture", citing the leader of Hezbullah, Hassan Nasrallah.

For those familiar with the sensationalist French lawyer, Verges, Saad-Ghorayeb's premise might start looking very tedious the further they read her justification for supporting Assad. If supporting this dictator appears to be morally outrageous, then it is only because you are assuming the moral rules upon which you operate are legitimate and valid; by "questioning the system" upon which it is based, one can dispense with worrying about torture, murder and ethnic cleansing, at least for the side they support. Of course in doing so you also do away with over two thousand years of philosophy, theology and politics. You are left with the morality of Thrasymachus, that might is right and the only standard for right and wrong is whatever the strong wish it to be at one particular time. This is the world that Assad lives in, and the vision that Saad-Ghorayeb seems committed to support.

One can oppose Assad and still support the Palestinian cause, not because of a contradiction but because the issue is one and the same. It is a sense for justice which makes the death of all innocent people equally outrageous, and whether it is Gaza or Homs that is being bombed, the condemnation of those doing so should not be subject to geopolitical convenience. Some people, sadly, cannot grasp this simple truth, and resort to sophistry and jargon to justify what is simply state-sanctioned murder.


Anonymous said...


Lirun said...

what about the palestinian aggression against israeli towns.. does that outrage you as well? or is that where you draw the line?

harleymc said...

Comrade-leader Saad-Ghorayeb's apologia for the regime infantilized Syrians but also deemed their lives as quite valueless. All that mattered to Saad-Ghorayeb was that their should be sloganeering around 'resistance'.

Keep up the good work on the blog, I know that at times you hate writing it. Your hard efforts are appreciated. Don't forget to allow yourself some beauty and love in your life.