Monday, March 30, 2009

Hitchens on his Beirut Ruckus

It happend a month or so ago, and has been commented on already by those who were there with Hitch, but Christopher talks about his fight with fascist thugs in Lebanon and Lebanese politics as a whole in his recent Vanity Fair article. He writes:
Lebanon is the template and the cockpit of the region,” said Saad Hariri, his father’s successor, at a dinner the night before I left. “Anyone who wants to deliver a message in the Middle East sends it first to Beirut.” He was right. The new and dearly bought independence of the country is being ground between the upper and nether millstones of the Iran-Syria-Hamas-Hezbollah axis and the stubborn, intransigent southern frontier of the Israeli-Palestinian quarrel: the stark contours of the next Middle East combat. The whole place has an ominously pre-war feeling to it, as if the dress rehearsals are almost over. But we have a tendency to use the term “Arab street” as if it meant the same as anti-Western religious frenzy. (I think of the brutes who nearly abducted me, but I also remember those passersby who protested at the thuggery.) What I learned from my three street encounters in Beirut was that there is more than one version of that “street,” and that the street itself is not by any means one-way.

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