when activism sucks

yesterday i was accused of being racist towards Lebanese because i said that Lebanese don’t pronounce the letter قاف but they say كاف instead. for example,

كومي سوري instead of قومي سوري

i excluded  those who live in jabal (the mountain).

in fact, i said on other occasion that i noticed that anyone who lives in the Lebanese mountain do use the letter قاف , but the Lebanese mostly say that only Druze speak the قاف , that’s not quite true i think.

the mountain is mostly inhabited by both of Christians and Druze, and i think the reason why Christians stopped speaking the قاف in their dialect (not to be understood that i am saying each cult has a dialect of its own, i think there is a dialect for each geographical location instead)  is because they spend most of their time in beirut and only go to the mountain on vacations, contrary to Druze who for many reasons have stronger bonds with their community, villages and land that their language still lives on, even for some who live in beirut.

what really drives my intention to write this post- even though right now i am in an indifferent phase about writing what i think and suspicious about why i should write and be read in the first place- is this lady who accused me (said later on that she was joking) and who’s activist and one of the prominent activists on the Occupied Palestinian cause in lebanon.

what she’s saying basically is that racism is synonym with any criticism (assuming that my note on قاف is criticism in the first place) you make against a group WHEN you’re not part of that group. so if a lebanese made my observation, she/he wouldn’t be racist, but because there is this national divisions among people, because i am from syria and i am talking about lebanese, my observation is basically racist.

which is pretty much parallel to the logic of Zionists who stamp you with “anti-Semitic” when you are non-Jew AND criticize either Zionism or Israel. and if you are a Jew and did criticize Israel or Zionism, you’re a “self-hating Jew”.

how friendly is racism, if it is about labels, not concepts.

seriously, most activists i met, know, or worked with, become movers on the ground, so busy and so devoted on fixing reality, without making an effort to reading this very reality they’re so busy fixing it.

that’s why activists are the worst defenders of the causes they’re advocating for. and that’s why most activism basically sucks.

8 thoughts on “when activism sucks

  1. mo says:

    Well, the whole issue is about accent, and your comment is just a simple observation, this does not make you racist and it’s silly to say so. If an “activist” is real, he/she should encourage you for more deep critique of the society, instead of slapping you with the weapon of racism. As you said, this is the second face of “antisemitism” in North America and Europe.
    I have to add that this unclarity in defining social phenomenas is exactly what is making the left in the Arab region falls deeply.
    […]that’s why activists are the worst defenders of the causes they’re advocating for. and that’s why most activism basically sucks. […] or as Ghassan Kanafani puts it, “If we were failures in defending the cause, we should change the defenders, not the cause”

  2. jon says:

    first just a remark, we Middle Eastern use the term “racist” so loosely, most of the time we mean prejudice. Therefore, Prejudice is start as an act of criticizing an action as a lesser action of the most proper one, and then generalizing based on that observation, Now did you do that? I have no idea, you know yourself. as for activism, Listen to how is activists, the richest people on earth, like Bill Gate, he go to Africa and give some money, he is an “activist.” A bourgeoisie that are opposing a government is an “activist.” A fundamentalist who does not believe in women’s right is an “activist.” I can go on an on, but the most I hate the very superficial “activists” who think it is cute just to be call an activist, who are just a followers of names, without knowing the real ideas of those big names, in other words the people who follow titles only, and they will fail an easy test in history or logic. Lately I am really not happy with the Middle Eastern minds, life style, conversation and course. we become absurd people looking for definitions and labels.

  3. الصقلي says:

    Do they really? Wow, I have to speak to Semi-expert about these issues. I thought the Lebanese change the قاف into همزة or maybe that is the Egyptians. Oh, well. I don’t think that is any type of criticism and just an observation. I do, however, disagree with you on generalizing in activisms. How dare you! (LOL, just kidding with ya, Razan).

    If we take a look at activism, I think there are people who are since المخلصون and those who live off of activism النصّابون . This is typical in certain Islamic movements in Europe. I have met Muslims who are extremely sincere and always give صدقة and they do it secretly – or at least they don’t go down the streets of Damascus or Makkah announcing it. But there are others – and this is something I really must get off my chest – who live off of دعوة and this really pisses me off. They go to Arab countries showing pictures and videos of what they do and telling sad stories and boo, hoo, hoo and the guy they are brainwashing tears start rolling down his eyes and he takes out a check from the bottom of his heart literally and rights a nice 5 or 6 figure amount. Then these lying ba … (Oops, sorry) come back and distribute a certain amount among each other and send the rest to their Sheikh who in reality is a self proclaimed guru in a far away place so he can live in luxury.

    Hence, I believe when analyzing activism we should try to filter out those who are in it to make a quick buck (or dirham or Ryal).

    Hugs 4 all,

    The Sicilian

  4. Bech says:

    yes it is the hamzeh the ‘Lebanese’ use. Mountain or not mountain. and the druze are the exception, but not all druze though, and you may find certain villages were the qaf is pronounced.

    but no one pronounces the قاف as كاف.

    and your coast/mountain explanation is kind of weak.

    Now of course I would not treat you of being a ‘racist’ because of that. But what does activism has to do with it. Explaining reality is something and acting is something different even if one informs the other.

  5. Daniel Demeter says:

    First of all, Syrian and Lebanese aren’t races, they are nationalities. So this woman accusing you of “racism” in this case is idiotic. Perhaps you could be accused of some kind of nationalistic prejudice (I don’t believe so, I’d consider it a sociological observation more than anything else), but definitely not racism.

    Your activist acquaintance, I believe, has a distorted (perhaps extremist) view of what racism and discrimination really is. You aren’t *criticizing* any particular group in this case, nor are you judging them in a positive or negative way. Discrimination is when you place a specific group of people above or below another, or value their humanity more or less than another. Commenting on their general habits in a neutral way is not discriminatory.

    Studies of anthropology and sociology would be inherently “racist” by this woman’s, and divisions on ethnic, religious, and nationalistic lines would become even more distinct. This woman clearly makes no distinction between observing and trying to understand others versus discriminating against them.

    Someone saying you can not comment on religious or national groups you don’t belong to is discriminatory in its own way. Would your activist acquaintance argue that Palestinians shouldn’t comment on habits of Israelis, because they are belonging to separate ethnic/religious/national groups? I highly doubt it.

    BTW, I am traveling to Syria around the 10th of October to meet my fiancée and help arrange her visa to the U.S.. If you have any plans to visit Syria in late October, it’d be great to see you.

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