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August 19, 2006

Cruising

Cruising-Beirut

What happened to the Cedar Revolution(aries)?

During the “Cedar Revolution” a year-and-a-half ago, the English-speaking press created the illusion of a monolithic, more moderate and pro-Western Lebanon.  With that stereotyping in mind, it seems that the coverage over the past three weeks has elicited the same skew, this time in the “opposite” direction.

Because of the cultural disconnect, this image — which ran on the LAT front page on Wednesday — is particularly fascinating.  Before considering the Middle Eastern aspect, though, the Southern California layering alone is interesting.  I included the headline because “cruising” in car obsessed L.A. has its own connotations.  Noticing only the foreground at first, I thought these were Latina.  But where would they be cruising?  Westwood?  Beverly Hills?  Quickly taking in the full scene and caption, however (“Affluent Lebanese drive through a bombed-out south Beirut neighborhood”), everything was suddenly backward.  Seems it would make more sense if white kids were cruising East L.A., or upscale Hispanic kids were cruising South Central.  Anyway….

Maybe the fact there are “two Beirut’s” is no different than how it is here in America.  If this country is that stratified, however, just how generalized (culturally, ethnically or geographically) is the damage inflicted on greater Lebanon or greater Beirut?  Not to generalize too much, myself, but I am inspired to ask the question by these beautiful people with cell phone cameras at the ready.

(image: Spencer Platt/Getty Images.  August 16, 2006.  Los Angeles Times.  p. A1)

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