So I was having dinner the other night at the home of J, a lovable Beiruti architect whose incredible tabbouleh depends on the secret ingredients of pomegranate molasses and sumac in its dressing.
Oops. Sorry J.
Anyway, the topic of conversation was Beirut’s recent annointment as one of forty-four must-visit destinations for 2009, by The New York Times. And where did Beirut fall on that list of uber-trendy locales? That’s right. Number one, baby. We remain hip, interesting, and newsworthy, may God be praised.
Amidst much self-congratulatory clinking of araq glasses, J sat back and said happily: “Well, I suppose this means that we will get at least one summer of stability.”
“What do you mean, J?”
“I mean, if The New York Times said it’s ok to visit Lebanon, then this means that the U.S. is not planning any more adventures, right?”
J continued, unaware of my befuddlement: “But the thing that bothers me about this is that they are sending mixed messages. I mean, why issue a travel advisory to Lebanon, and then say that you should Lebanon, at the same time?”
“Umm, J? The New York Times did not issue the travel advisory. The U.S. government did.”
“So… one thing is not connected with the other. The U.S. government does not coordinate its policies with the media. They are two separate things altogether.”
J looked at me as if I had suddenly started speaking in Swedish.
“But surely they talk to each other.”
“J, the job of newspapers is to interrogate and investigate the actions of government, not to justify and enable them.”