May 12, 2005

A Beirut Diary

The LA Weekly is still holding onto the story I wrote for them about my trip to Libya a few months ago. They say they will publish it soon. In the meantime, I wrote a piece about Lebanon for them and they rushed it into print. This one, unlike my Libya piece, is timely.

So here it is, my first (published) LA Weekly story. A Beirut Diary: Inside the Forest of the Cedar Revolution.

Here’s a preview.
Beirut, Lebanon — Just as the last Syrian troops were ending their 30-year occupation, I traveled with three young leaders of the Cedar Revolution on their campaign up the coast to the ancient Christian stronghold of Mount Lebanon.

As we got to the gates of the Lebanese American University, in the hills above Byblos, we were met with a scene that suggested democracy was, nevertheless, still not quite at hand.

We came upon not only photo murals and monuments to Christian war criminals Samir Geagea and Bashir Gemayel but a surly mob of students — all of them men — arranged before us in a phalanx. All wore the same brown shirts with a picture of Geagea on the front and a black Christian cross on the back. They loudly chanted Christian war songs, raised their right hands and aped the Nazi salute. Others, behind the phalanx, banged drums. Someone rang the church bells furiously and violently. Far from a celebration in the new Lebanon, it looked more like a political pep rally in General Franco’s Spain.

The three activists from the democracy movement I was traveling with — Ribal, Michel and Alaa — ran up to the mob of radical Christians and hugged them. I felt sick to my stomach. What on earth were so-called democracy activists doing buddying up with sectarian ethnic chauvinists? I snapped some digital pictures because I didn’t know what else to do.

Just then a bald university administrator wearing a suit and a tie got in my face. “Where are you from?” he screamed. It was the first and only time anyone yelled at me in Lebanon. “You erase those pictures,” he said. “And you erase them right now.”
Want to know what happened next? Read the rest.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at May 12, 2005 12:15 AM

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Pajamas Media BlogRoll Member



Testimonials

"I'm flattered such an excellent writer links to my stuff"
Johann Hari
Author of God Save the Queen?

"Terrific"
Andrew Sullivan
Author of Virtually Normal

"Brisk, bracing, sharp and thoughtful"
James Lileks
Author of The Gallery of Regrettable Food

"A hard-headed liberal who thinks and writes superbly"
Roger L. Simon
Author of Director's Cut

"Lively, vivid, and smart"
James Howard Kunstler
Author of The Geography of Nowhere


Contact Me

Send email to michaeltotten001 at gmail dot com


News Feeds




toysforiraq.gif



Link to Michael J. Totten with the logo button

totten_button.jpg


Tip Jar





Essays

Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn