National dialogue: a theater of the absurd

Lebanon’s “national” dialogue began today– a meeting of high level leaders, millionaires, billionaires former warlords that used to kill each other– to sort our problems out supposedly. But what are they saying?

We have no idea, the press is shut out as usual, only video is allowed. So all we have is body language, no audio.

They strut in or waddle.

Jumblatt excitedly greets Murr.

Berri is busy trying to explain something to Salam, then Siniora.

Aoun barely acknowledges Salam when he repeatedly tries to engage him, like an unpopular guy at a party.

Mohammed Safadi is there. Why? Last year he could not even control an agency under his ministry as customs guards beat up journalists. “They didn’t listen to me,” he said at the time.

Then there is Mikati, a billionaire–who does he represent? He is no longer prime minister and was never hugely popular in the first place, at least not as popular as the other warlords.

But the important question. Why don’t we know? Why can’t we hear what they are saying? What gives them the privilege and makes us the subjects, to watch in silence?

All we get at the end is a statement–something watered down they have agreed to release–something they want us to hear. But that is not news, that is advertising.

If our news media had any spine, they would print nothing at all. They would boycott the lot of them and focus on the people’s problems and what is causing them, ignoring this theatre of the absurd.

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