Jackie Chamoun, one of two alpine skiers representing Lebanon at the Sochi Olympics, has come under fire for exposing herself (or part of herself) in a photo shoot a few years ago. In turn, her critics have come under fire for targeting “boobs instead of bombs.” Meanwhile, the Lebanese Minister of Youth and Sports has called upon Lebanese Olympic officials to investigate matters to uphold Lebanon’s reputation. (Incidentally, as many others have pointed out, that reputation would be a lot nicer without the cartels, bombings, killings, kidnappings, gun running, drug smuggling, corruption, poor roads, lack of power, inconsistent water supply, and declining quality of hummus.)
While it may be true that the Lebanese have, or should have, the mental bandwidth to discuss politics, economics, society, and culture, it’s a bit disconcerting to see how much energy some segments of society have spent attacking a woman instead of celebrating her accomplishments and cheering her on. (By the way, good luck to Alex Mohbat—Lebanon’s “other” Olympian—too. Please, brother, keep your shirt on!) Similarly, it’s odd that so many of us—myself included—are spilling ink and sweat defending a person who hasn’t really done anything wrong. And it’s more than odd—just downright perplexing—that a caretaker minister would call for an investigation into the matter. Underpinning all of this, however, are more disagreements on the sort of Lebanon we’d like to see, the sort of people we’d like to see succeed, and the sort of image we’d like to show the world (and each other).
Take heart Jackie. Yesterday’s gossip is today’s news—and tomorrow’s Twitter-faded memory. Go for Gold.
Anthony Elghossain ain’t gonna lie… Those pictures were nice. Anyway, good luck to Jackie and Alex. He tweets at @aelghossain