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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lebanon is like the technology start up, large uniform countries are like the old corporation

Some American experts oversimplify and stereotype the middle east, and skim over how unique Lebanon in the middle east.

Rima Fakih, the Lebanese American Miss USA from Michigan comes from a typically eclectic Lebanese family, which like many others enjoys absorbing many cultures, religions, languages, while feeling uniquely Lebanese.

A mental block in some westerners however prevents them from acknowledging this typically Lebanese kind of diversity. Maybe acknowledging that would negate the stereotype, and prevent some westerners from pigeon-holing the middle east as "conservative". Acknowledging that Lebanon is actually ahead of most of the world when it comes to religions and cultures mingling (not just co-existing) seems to make both some westerners with a colonial perspective, and muslim conservatives uncomfortable.

For that reason perhaps, it seems that a backlash comes in the form of some western experts doubling their effort at pigeon-holing Lebanon. In this CNN video Michael Hudson from Georgetown University speaks of backlash from conservative countries, ignoring how defiant Lebanon is to all conformist countries and how accustomed middle eastern countries are to the fact that Lebanon is more progressive: http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/05/17/miss.usa.lebanese/index.html?hpt=C2 .

Yet, a genuine description of Rima's background shows no effect of any backlash on her cultural circle: http://www.yalibnan.com/2010/05/15/a-lebanese-american-may-become-miss-usa-2010/ .

Misconceptions about Lebanon are expressed both east and west of us: powerful western as well as Arabic countries are too used to uniformity to grasp Lebanon's diversity. Some westerners even express colonial wishful thinking, by depicting Lebanese as weak in the face of larger conservative countries in the middle east. It almost sounds like solidarity between large ex-colonial countries: they help each other pretend that the small countries are nor more agile neither progressive than the larger ones! It makes me think of technology start ups vs large established corporations. Just imagine a corporation CEO saying that the small start ups, famous for breaking into the market with revolutionary products, will not be able to act on their new ideas (and out-compete corporations) because they are overpowered by corporations. This would be denial, since the reason to be for start ups, and the key to their success is that they create a product meant to out-compete that of the larger corporations. Start ups succeed at going against the grain because they are small and more agile in their thinking than established corporations, just like Lebanon is when compared to large uniform countries. Lebanon, as small and more agile country, challenges these countries with a new brand of Lebanese diversity.

3 comments:

  1. Hi its really very nice i enjoyed a lot to visit..Handset prices

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  2. I think it shows the diversity of America. It shows how America is open to everyone. In some Muslim dominated countries, I cannot see this happening because of the narrow view of beauty pageants and because the standard of beauty is bias.

    For instance, I cannot see a darker skin or African Muslim woman winning one of these pageants there. Novices to pageants should be sure to credit Vanessa Williams (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanessa_L._Williams) who was first African-American to win at Miss America pageant. She opened the doors for women of color.

    Also, Miss World pageant has illustrated women of different ethnic backgrounds from monolithic to multi-ethnic cultures can win a beauty pageant.

    My best to her. With the bucolic climate between the Western cultures and Muslim cultures perhaps her win can serve as a bridge to better understanding and acceptance.

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  3. well as Noam Chomsky says, the US has one personality inside the US and another abroad. It's not the first US personality that we have an issue with, in fact the American Martin Luther King is often cited by leaders of the Lebanese civil rights movement, the patriotic party. It's the "let's divide and conquer the natives, all over again" US stance that we have problem with, as the US applies this to its foreign policy.

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