Sophistry and Demagogy

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By Ghassan Karam Special to Ya Libnan Sa'ad Hariri, the premier designate, deserves credit for having finally, after 11 weeks, submitted a proposed cabinet along the lines of 15-10-5;


Sa’ad Hariri deserves credit for having finally, after 11 weeks, submitted a proposed Lebanese cabinet along the lines of 15-10-5. Fifteen members from the majority coalition of March14, 10 members from the opposition coalition led by Hezbollah and 5 cabinet portfolios for the president of the republic. The credit is however to be tempered by some criticism for not having taken this decisive step earlier and for encouraging the opposition to proceed in its meaningless and destructive obstructionism. They have allowed and encouraged to make one impossible and illogical demand after the next for years.
There is only one word to explain clearly and objectively the tactics of the opposition, it is simply demagoguery. That is best explained as a political argument that is constructed on half truths, straw men and logical fallacies. Actually H. L. Mencken, the American author might have said it best when he explained that “a demagogue is one who preaches doctrines that he knows to be untrue to (men) he knows to be idiots”. Their whole argument for presenting formidable nonsensical barriers to prevent the formation of a cabinet rests on such flimsy arguments that a government of one colour would be disastrous to the country. What they conveniently neglect to point to is that practically all governments all over the world are cabinets of one colour and furthermore the ruling coalition in many cases does not have much more than a 501% majority. Could it be that in this case Lebanon is different since they are motivated only by a personal power grab? The man who would be king has no clue what democracy is and what is the meaning of checks and balances. Another example of pure demagogy is the claim that if the opposition is not given the right to dictate the terms for their invitation to join the cabinet then the Christians will be misrepresented. Sectarianism is the refuge of scoundrels, to borrow a phrase. It is as if one is arguing that say a British Labour Cabinet is discriminating against the Conservatives and what is even worse it is a hidden argument to perpetuate sectarianism, the bane of all what is wrong in the Lebanese political system. To put the demands of the opposition in a simple straight forward analogy, their insupportable obstacles are not any different than when you invite a person to dinner and give them a say about the menu and the time of service but they tell you in no uncertain terms that you will not be allowed to hold your planned dinner without their attendance and that they will agree to accept the invitation only if you fire your staff and hire theirs. What logic, what chutzpah what demagoguery!!
As this column has argued often, the Lebanese experiment is practically at the point of no return, a point of disintegration. It is the duty and the obligation of all those of good will to attempt to save the Lebanese entity and that starts with good governance that will not seek short term solutions by papering over seminal and major fault lines. Mr. Hariri has taken the first minor step in that direction. He must become more forceful in speaking directly to the Lebanese people and in asking the opposition to live up to their historical responsibility. Mr. Hariri has to take a stand for what is right, a stand for the integrity of the republic. He must form a cabinet that will govern effectively, take decisions that are purely in the Lebanese national interest, eliminate political sectarianism and promote a Lebanese identity that measures the worth of a person not by the method of prayer but by their knowledge of a particular area and the strength of their allegiance to law and order Everything else is demagoguery and will hasten going over the abyss.

A Podcast of the above can be heard at: ramblings11.mypodcast.com

Comments: wp.karam@gmail.com

YaLibnan is dedicated to Lebanese individuals who strongly believe in liberty and in the changes it will bring to a sovereign Lebanon. We sincerely believe that democracy will bring about fundamental changes in the Lebanese constitution that will result in a better Lebanon for all its citizens. For more infomration please visit www.yalibnan.com

This is originally posted at http://yalibnan.com/site/archives/2009/09/sophistry_and_d.php and YaLibnan is responsible for the content.

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