September 24, 2006

Different Rally, Same Stuff

Friday I did the Hezbollah rally in the south of Beirut, so today I went for some balance, and attended a rally on the other side of town and the other side of the political spectrum as well. I went to a Lebanese Forces gathering North of Beirut, up in Harissa, a cathedral build on a mountain top. No victory rally but a christian martyrs commemoration.

And was I standing out on Friday because I wasn’t wearing a veil, today I stood out because a big fat cross was missing around my neck. And they do not separate their crowd. Other than that, both rallies were identical. You could almost say that in the center of Lebanese society, there is this huge mirror, and one extreme basically reflects the other extreme.

Both rallies consisted of lots of flags, T-shirts with their idol, and people shouting slogans that involve God protecting the particular leader. Both leaders reminded the crowd how they had trashed a rather oppressive neighboring country. One leader told them how they had beaten the Israelis, the other reminded them how they had gotten rid of the Syrians. And that was it. Another non-event, you might say.

The LF crowd-control boys

What I do find significant is the underlying threat of their crowd-control boys. Hezbollah has them, and so does the LF. Young boys, 17, 18 years old, not much to do in life, and loaded with testosterone. These guys feel all-important, strutting around like roosters, chests up, trying to get the Clint Eastwood look right.
Other than the fact the Hezbollah crowd-control guys are wearing beards, and the Lebanese Forces crowd-control guys are sporting Ray bans, they are pretty identical; The black baseball caps, tan Timberland shoes, the kaki or camouflage trousers blousing over the edge of their shoes, military style.

And they love it. These are your future front-line militias. They have no notion of what happened in the past in this country, and they are eager enough to make the same mistake again. Rather unsettling.


Maya@NYC said...

First visit to your blog. from the few posts that I read, i got a refreshing feel. Finally a balanced view on the human and behind-the-scenes of the politics of our Lebanon.
Thank you...keep on writing...will keep on reading.

Lazarus said...

Your last point is perfectly stated.

- l.