March 9, 2005

Deciding which demonstration to believe.

Those of us who were heartened by the recent anti-Syria demonstrations in Lebanon have to think of some response to yesterday's huge pro-Syria demonstration. Here's Bill Clinton's attempt:
Mr. Clinton was ... ebullient, noting that the Iraqi elections "went better than anyone could have imagined." In Lebanon, he said, "the Syrians are going to have to get out of there and give the Lebanese their country back, and I think the fact that the Lebanese are in the street demanding it is wonderful."

Asked about huge demonstrations on Tuesday, sponsored by Hezbollah, that demanded just the opposite, Mr. Clinton said: "I find it inconceivable that most Lebanese wouldn't like it if they had their country back. You know, they want their country back and they ought to get it."

So Clinton simply switched to analyzing what people should or probably do tend to want, and the demonstration element fell out of the equation. Some people are observing that the anti-Syria demonstrators are better looking. But isn't the difference in appearance a difference in social class?
While the anti-Syrian opposition movement has been called the Cedar Revolution, a reference to the Lebanese national tree, it has also been called the BMW revolution. The [pro-Syrian] demonstration included far more women with covered heads and many men in traditional dress.

I've also seen the term "Gucci revolution":
Some people here are jokingly calling the phenomenon "the Gucci revolution" - not because they are dismissive of the demonstrations, but because so many of those waving the Lebanese flag on the street are really very unlikely protestors.

There are girls in tight skirts and high heels, carrying expensive leather bags, as well as men in business suits or trendy tennis shoes....

[W]hat has been fascinating to observe is how Lebanon's middle and upper classes have been woken from their usual lethargy by the assassination of Hariri.

I'm sure there are plenty of other ways to marginalize yesterday's big protests, but you can't -- like Clinton -- just ignore them if you want to count the other demonstrations to mean something, and it's not enough to say the people aren't so pretty.

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