Note: I wrote this in Arabic few months ago back then when You Stink was active, but haven’t posted it. Now I decided to post a translation of it so that more readers would understand and relate.
Few weeks ago, I received on Facebook, from one of my classmates in university, an invitation to join a page for students from our university who participate in You Stink protests. I ignored it for two reason. The first is that I previously sent them invitations to a page I admin (which has nothing to do with You Stink or politics) and they didn’t join, so I decided to treat them the same way. The second reason is that I didn’t want to be associated, in any way, with those who claim to be starting a revolution while the truth is that they serve embassies and foreign interests.
Currently, in Lebanon, the loyalty of youth and students switched from allegiance to political parties and sects to those campaigns which suddenly appear out of the blue and organize protests while we know nothing of whoever finances them. Most of the Lebanese youth – if not all, backed those protests as a trend. And whoever does not follow the trend remains an outcast, not in harmony with his or her peers, same as whoever does not join these protests, or at least shows support to them on social media. Those “revolutionaries”, despite their lack of experience, want to run the country in their own way…or to be specific, the way they were instructed from embassies and foreign think tanks and NGOs.
They pretend to support freedom of expression, but if anyone talks to them about anything that doesn’t involve demonizing the whole Lebanese government with all its ministers and Parliament members (the corrupt AND the non-corrupt ones), they show their true colors. They won’t say straight in your face that your opinion is worthless or unacceptable, but if you raise suspicions about whoever supports those campaigns and activists financially, they will answer:”OMG, you are against freedom of expression!”. If you tell them that hastily generalizing ALL politicians who participate in the government to be corrupt is a fallacy, they will answer:”OMG, you’re a sheep obeying the system!”. It is the same as when you say you support Palestinian resistance against israel, they answer:”OMG, you’re pro-violence and against peace!”. In short, critical thinking would lead them to use the means of intimidation as a response.
Talking about the war on Syria or the war on Yemen to them is like talking to a wall. Because they don’t care about those humanitarian causes. They only care about causes which are dictated to them by foreign NGOs, such as the environment, anti-corruption, etc… so they become busy with relatively small problems in comparison to what the whole area is facing. Fighting corruption, abolishing the Lebanese sectarian governmental system and saving the environment are necessary, but they became a trend instead of a cause. A trend leads nowhere, it just disappears soon to be replaced by another, while a cause might lead somewhere by the efforts of those who support it.
“Revolution” became a trend restricted to coffee-shop activists who hang out and sit in front of the laptop and call on social media for getting to the streets. And when it is time to get to the streets, they put on “Anonymous” masks, Batman costumes and artificial colorful hair which clowns wear in circuses, while raising banners with slogans that are sometimes lame, sometimes funny, and other times compare politicians to Game of Thrones characters. Then they upload photos of all that on social media so that the whole world would see the creativity of Lebanese youth in expressing themselves, and unfortunately this creativity is being used for lame slogans instead of something that would really benefit the country. If I campaigned for those protests and spread photos of them on social media, I would write this description:”Remember that this is not a Halloween party, this is a revolution! A genuine revolution of the suffering Lebanese people, even Batman himself joined it!”. Of course this is just sarcasm, because every time the suffering people try to revolt, they get infiltrated by “social media revolutionaries” and this would lead to tragic consequences like those we witnessed in the Arab Spring.
Ignoring the invitation to join the FB page of protesters from university was not enough, I had to avoid all social media because it got filled with such revolutionary idealism propagated by coffee-shop activists. I decided not to go with the trend. And whoever doesn’t go with the trend gets intimidated directly and indirectly. Gone are the days of freedom of expression. Gone are the days when having different views would be considered as enriching for the society. One has to think zillion times today before saying his or her opinion for fear of being called names because freedom of expression is not allowed, unless you express the trendy views. The youth became a mercenary army in defense of this “political correctness” and whoever doesn’t join the mercenary army is deemed “un-progressive”. Supporting the Lebanese armed resistance against terrorism (whether it is the terrorism of groups like ISIS or the terrorism of israel) became “un-progressive”. Being “progressive”, to the followers of the trend or “fashion victims”, means obeying the will of foreign think tanks and NGOs while pretending that it is the will of the people.
Being intimidated is bad, but being a fashion victim is worse. Trying to convince them that what they’re doing is the exact opposite of progressiveness won’t work, because the trend became a core part of their personalities, and depriving them of it is like depriving them of a part of themselves.
Note: If you came across this post and felt offended, remember that dismissing the truth (about You Stink activists receiving professional training in activism in foreign institutions) because it conflicts with your ideology is offensive, not to me, not to any individual, but to the moral principles of truth and transparency. I’ve heard again and again the argument of “we’re just fed up with trash being piled up on the sidewalk and polluting the atmosphere, we’re fed up with corruption, with sectarianism, with not being able to get things done unless we pay a bribe, with not being able to get a job unless we have connections…” trust me, I’m more fed up with those than you, but those who started that movement – as well as other similar movements in the Arab world and everywhere – are NOT normal fed up citizens.
I read once that a man was standing somewhere next to a You Stink protest, just watching, without actually being IN the protest. A journalist asked him “why don’t you join them?” And guess what he answered! He said “I’m not well-dressed for that!”. Not well-dressed…to participate in a protest, that is – supposedly – a revolution of the people.
I’ll leave you with this to think about for yourself. Peace.