How to get Politicians to fist fight

December 14, 2011

Political Theory


Recently, two Lebanese politicians did a roundtable on MTV Lebanon (not Music Television but a Lebanese news station) and were discussing their stance on Bashar Al-Assad, the Syrian president. Protests in Syria have been persistent since mid-March of 2011. Assad’s brutal crackdown on protesters has raised a lot of questions on the regime’s stance on human rights. Just yesterday, more than 30 people were killed during protest clashes. These 30 casualties can be added to the estimated 5,000 that have occurred since the beginning of the movement.

At this roundtable, Future Movement official and Lebanese parliamentary member Mustapha Allouch and the Socialist Lebanese Ba’ath Party chief Fayez Choker were invited on MTV to DISCUSS their thoughts on the Syrian situation. It is important to note that the Ba’ath party is the party of Bashar Al-Assad. Below is the video of their discussion:

Here is a brief translation for those who don’t understand Arabic:

[Choker- Red Tie, Allouch- Grey and Blue Tie]

Choker (pro-Bashar) starts off with telling Alloush (anti-Bashar) that he should’ve heard what Bashar Al-Assad said in a recent interview.

Allouch replies saying he watched it and doesn’t believe a word that Assad said. 

Choker is appalled and says, “Who are you to not believe Bashar Al-Assad?!” 

Allouch can see Choker getting pissed off, so he tells him to calm down. 

Choker says that he is calm but “it’s shameful to say that you don’t believe THE Bashar Al-Assad.”

Allouch retorts with “it’s shameful for you to say it is shameful.”

Choker keeps repeating how shameful Allouch’s statement is and tries to explain why.

 Allouch comes in and says “I don’t believe him because Al-Assad is a liar.”

 This is where it gets heated and Choker says, “You’re the liar and who ever taught you anything is a liar.”

Allouch says “A member of the Syrian intelligence agency isn’t allowed to tell me this.”

Choker is even more heated now and says “I’m a member of the Syrian intelligence agency? The bottom of my shoe is more classy than you.”

Allouch then replies with “Eat crap, shut up,” but in a more explicit way.

 And that is when Choker loses it and throws the glass of water. Then they begin to exchange comments about each others’ mothers.

And then you see what happens from there.

Aside from being hilarious, this roundtable is symbolic of a traditional vs. modern argument. What I found the most interesting exchange is when Choker says that it is shameful to denounce Bashar Al-Assad. Allouch’s retort was that it is shameful to make such a claim. How is an argument like that acceptable today? Choker is essentially saying that speaking against THE President of Syria is a shameful act. That’s it. End point. The Assad family has been ruling Syria for four decades so any word against their reign is unacceptable. What is this the 18th century? After learning about the  political theorists like Mill and Rousseau who both, in one way or another, denounce obstruction or exploitation by a higher class upon a lower one, listening to Choker speak was in and of itself shameful. It reminded me of an extreme Burke-ian perspective that values tradition over revolution. After realizing this, I began to view Al-Assad regime as a regime that supports Burke’s claims in Reflections on the Revolution in France. Further, while watching Al-Assad’s interview with Barbara Walters a few days ago, and hearing Assad say that his government is pursuing gradual reforms that will satisfy the Syrian people, I was reassured of Assad’s Burkeian perspective.

Further, after taking this course I feel that my argument skills on political issues have improved significantly. The acts of the Assad regime violate the basic rights of Syrian citizens. Denying their right to protest against the President is an act that would be rejected by the claims of Mill in On Liberty. Rousseau’s texts do not align with the Syrian government because the system in place serves to benefit those in power and not the common good. Rawls would not appreciate the condition of the least well-off. Marx would view this as an issue of class struggle and ultimately a reorganization of class anatagonisms.

After finishing POLSCI 101, how would you approach such an argument given what you know collectively from all the theorists we learned about?

Last Edit: 12.15.2011 – Grammatical Edits

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2 Comments on “How to get Politicians to fist fight”

  1. joethahn Says:

    It is very sad that the Syrian government is persecuting those who protest. It makes me feel fortunate to live in a country that admires the freedom of speech and protest. After taking the Polsci101 course I definitely side with Mustapha Allouch. It is sad to see that a person like Fayez Choker in power, who thinks that you should blindly follow everything that Bashar Al-Assad says. When I read this it gave me the impression that Choker believes that protest and not agreeing with the current government is unjust. Although I side with Allouch he is still at fault for the brawl that broke out on national television. Government officials should be professional and calmly lead by example. Chokers view of the government is not one that is there to protect its citizens but one that demand the compliance from citizens. A government should always look into the best interest of the people and it seems as if Syrian leaders have forgotten that.

  2. Steve Dougherty Says:

    I agree with Allouch’s statement that “it’s shameful for you to say it is shameful,” but I’ll add why: to not question authority – or anyone for that matter – is to do a disservice to society. Not questioning authority risks fundamentally feeble ideas rising to the top solely on the basis of who supports them. That grown men would come to blows over the question of whether the words of an authority figure should be accepted without reservation is very concerning to me, and I wonder if this is a freak accident or feelings on the issue are usually this strong. Perhaps the presence of civil unrest is an indicator that such levels of emotion are not uncommon.

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