Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Arab democracy | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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It really annoys me and in fact almost drives me to a state of madness when people speak on Arab talk shows as if they alone, and nobody else, possess the absolute truth!

As the era of prophets and apostles has passed, no human being can now talk to us, as an official or intellectual or otherwise, from the perspective that everything they say is sacred and that nothing they say is wrong!

No one is absolutely correct; all of us interpret and then respond accordingly. Each of us carries inside our minds a set of interpretations that are both right and wrong. Each of us draws conclusions of thought based on assumptions, information, numbers and statistics, which might all be wrong or correct, or only true in part.

It’s amazing that some politicians or elite figures present their views as if they were facts, and their impressions and convictions as if they were definitive axioms.

The scourge of the Arab mind is this state of “temperamental impressionism”, which controls the minds and tongues of some, in a manner that ultimately dominates them and plunges them into a state of intellectual phobia!

For example, study the face of any panelist on the various “cockfight” discussion programs that appear on some Arab channels, where shouting takes precedent over reason, and you will discover that they do not listen to the words of their opponents, even if they say something in agreement with their opinion. All the time the panelist is thinking with all his might of a counter retort, regardless of what was originally said!

This state of hysteria which controls the Arab mindset, and the mood of the political elite, is based on a desire to assassinate the character of anyone who disagrees with you. It is as if you are saying: I’m not discussing your ideas; I’m trying to destroy your credibility, so I accuse you of employing agents, espionage, corruption or lying!

Perhaps this is why we have seen an increasing tendency for talk show discussions to escalate from verbal quarrels to physical clashes live on air, in front of the eyes and ears of millions.

This worsening situation reflects the crisis endemic in our talk show culture. It is the crisis of a society where everyone has decided to take revenge on each other through defamation and abuse, using heinous words and descriptions.

If this is “Arab democracy”, and this is the price we must pay to emerge from a state of enslavement to a state of freedom, then it is a very high price indeed. I am sure that it will not help us achieve our dream of comprehensive, or even partial, development.