Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's Tuesday Night, What's Going Down?

It’s Tuesday night and my Tuesday night usually consists of me playing ice hockey, getting food from my favorite Lebanese take away place, then either reading, getting on the net, or watching an ice hockey game before dozing off. But tonight, recent world events have compelled me to do something different. I decided to see what was on the over 600+ satellite TV stations for which I am paying; since I have never really explored them. Plus, with the recent unrest in the Middle East, I want to see how the different countries and channels are covering these historic events.  I really just want to see, what’s going down?!

My head is swirling; it’s a whirlwind, a truly dizzying array of images and sound bites as I do a quick cursory scan of the TV directory. I am witnessing history, I am witnessing people power. I am seeing repressive regimes being driven out, forced to leave, but who will replace them? Democratic ones or ones not as repressive as the previous regime? I ponder, does the West truly want new Democratic countries that may not kowtow and curry favor to its demands and interests? Remember 1953 Iran with President-elect Mohammad Mossadegh, 

 remember 1954 Guatemala with President-elect Jacobo Arbenz,

and remember 1973 Chile with President-elect Salvador Allende.

Leaders of countries who were all democratically elected, but who were not ‘in line’ with the interests of certain governments and leaders. And, as a result, CIA coups were orchestrated in those countries and those democratically elected leaders were driven out only to be replaced by mad men like Pinochet. Will the West now respect what the people decide and then operate within their guidelines? Or, will history repeat itself? Only time will tell.

I am grateful to be able to witness history unfold. Protests and  demonstrations have taken place even in countries such as Oman. I’ve been told that the Omani demonstrations have been the first to take place in Oman.  Times of change, curious to see what will happen next?

So, I began checking out what some of the 600+ channels have to offer. I began with the news channel Al Jazeera. I find Al Jazeera coverage of world events to be informative and intelligent (no talking heads on this channel or quoted sources that begin with, “Some people say…”) and their documentaries to be provocative and gripping. Tonight, I am watching a panel discussion with three female scholars regarding the roles of women in the new Middle East and the portrayal of Middle Eastern women by the Western media during the recent political unrest in various countries. The three women were all of Middle Eastern descent, of varying racial hues and tones (which I found interesting) and they were professors at three different universities: Rabab El Hadad, Ph.D- American Univ. of Cairo, Naje Al-Ali, Ph.D School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, and Frances Hossa, Ph.D Duke University (U.S.). Great conversation among the three scholars, I could have listened to them for hours. Some of the issues raised were, will women have more of a role in shaping policy/doctrine in the New Middle East? And, will the new policies/doctrines be representative of all women in all walks of life in the countries that have seen political change?

From Al Jazeera, I just started channel surfing. MTV Arabia. 

I see this channel on at the gym quite a bit. This channel usually plays videos that contain hypnotic Arabic beats and/or  Hip-Hop from the U.S. But, what was interesting about the videos; was that no matter where one is in the world, the videos are still able to convey quite a bit of sexual innuendo and suggestiveness.

Surfing on; came across a Turkish station that was showing the funeral of former Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan. I am always amazed at funeral processions in other parts of the world. It seems like in the West, funerals are usually solemn somber affairs, but in many parts of the world, funerals are lively affairs in which people use to demonstrate. It is eye-opening to observe and witness different cultures and their customs.

After the funeral of the former Turkish Prime Minister, I came across a Tunisian channel and it was announcing the resignation of interim Tunisian President Mohammed Ghannouchi who had been recently appointed to hat position. I was kicking myself as this person was speaking at the press conference because I should have been watching this channel when the revolution in Tunisia initially took place. I missed the boat on this and I was mad at myself as a result. 

After the Tunisian channel, I come across the world’s sport on many different channels football/soccer. When I think of pop culture and this generation’s cultural communication, I always think of rap/hip-hop as the lingua franca. And when it comes to global sports, I think of football/soccer in the same vein. I am amazed at the number of professional football/soccer leagues in the world and just in the Gulf region. I came across an Iraqi TV channel and it was showing a professional football match that looked like it was taking place in someone’s backyard. Then, there was football/soccer on Dubai and Abu Dhabi stations, Saudi Arabian stations, replays of games that were days ago or years ago. My favorite was a rerun of an indoor soccer match on a Libyan TV station. Forget the fact that country had descended into chaos and a potential civil war, one would never know from the indoor soccer match that was being played.

Next channel, BBC World. 

BBC World was focusing on the unrest in Libya. There were images of people celebrating in the port city of Benghazi and other smaller cities at the apparent ouster of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Other people were cautiously celebrating and waiting for the other shoe to drop knowing that Col. Gaddafi would not be going down without a fight. Col. Gaddafi had recently quoted as saying, “I have pledged to fight until the last drop of blood in my body.” Then there were the images of foreign workers trying to get out of Libya: anxious, agitated, exhausted; people who just wanted to get home.

Then onto CNN International, 
where they were reporting from the United Nations (UN) where a vote was about to take place. The  UN was voting whether to suspend Libya from the Human Rights Watch.  The resolution was expected to go through without too much opposition, but some leaders/countries who have been friendly to Libya and Col. Gaddafi were expected to speak and I wanted to see what they had to say.

It was getting late and as Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the UN was about to speak I began to doze off. But, as I was beginning my slumber, I couldn’t help but think of the singer/songwriter/spoken word artist Gil Scott-Heron. Gil Scott Heron famously proclaimed in a 1971 song that, “The Revolution Will Not be Televised.” But, here in my family/TV room 40 years later, the revolution was playing out on various channels, with the exception of Libyan TV for the world to see. All one had to do was be ‘tuned in.’

1 comment:

Joel&Tina said...

Great post Ryan. I completely agree that Al Jazeera is an intelligent source of information in the region. Additionally Arabic MTV is the entire reason I used to run on the treadmill at the gym!
Take care man and hope all is well with you and the family!