The showdown over the Lebanese history textbook should not go by unnoticed. Indeed, this is not about two ideological points of view, one rightist and another leftist for instance; rather, this is about two sectarian points of view, each of which reflects the sensitivity of a given community and its vision with regard to the surrounding world.
In this sense, the most dangerous implication of this showdown is that the winner wants to write history according to his own will without any regard whatsoever for the points of view of the communities with whom he claims he wants to live.
However, this crude and extremely selfish exploitation of the military balance of power fails to take notice of the fact that history is not decided by the aforementioned balance of power and that ideas and facts do not belong to the same category as power. Numerous parties and states that sought to dissociate culture – in the broader sense of the word – from guns became victims of this same contradiction.
In reality, surrendering in this confrontation or abstaining from delving into it leads to a dangerous result in the future, i.e. allowing the balance of force to use ideas as weapons and justifications for its actions, and subsequently to impose them and generalize them to its victims. If these victims can be expelled from history and ideas after having been expelled from politics, violence becomes the only form of expressing protest against injustice and marginalization. This can only mean the end of what is left of Lebanon in the shape of never-ending civil wars or de facto partition [of the country].
It would be no exaggeration to say that defending Lebanon’s history and pluralism is tantamount to defending Lebanon as such.
The battle of the history textbook expresses totalitarian penchants in a local sauce. In so doing, those writing this “new” history are acting exactly like totalitarians anywhere, as they claim to possess the whole truth and do not acknowledge that anyone can have part of it. Moreover, they are also loyal to our despotic neighbors in Syria and, before that, in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq back when the “cause” was the source of the truth and all knowledge.
One can safely say that the “cause” of preserving Lebanon as a country of pluralism, one that enjoys political life and media freedoms, is undoubtedly more supreme than all these boring “causes”, which merely empower despotism, tyranny and the belittling of public opinion before taking us back for years and years.
The Syrians are fighting their despotic rulers nowadays and dying in this battle against those exploiting the “cause.” In contrast, it will not be too much for the Lebanese to protest against this form of disgusting despotism, which threatens them in the name of the same “cause.”
This article is a translation from the original, which appeared on the NOW Arabic site on Monday March 19, 2012