literally: a hanger.
used as a metaphor, referring to someone who is blamed for misfortunes, generally as a way of distracting attention from the real causes. false pretext, scapegoat, fall guy.
We in this part of the world face a lot of problems. This is not controversial, but it is extremely worrying. Even more worrying however, is how many refuse to deal with these fundamental problems. Not only that, they in fact refuse to recognize them. Instead, they set up scapegoats that have very little to do with the real issues and decide they are to blame. The deeper causes are ignored; they are barely even mentioned. Meanwhile we are distracted by demonizing, ridiculing and making fun of scapegoats that bare little to the crux of our mess, in the course distracting attention from what we should be focused on. This is an attempt to deconstruct this phenomenon.
For the first post I choose one of the more obvious cases of this scapegoating: MPs in Parliament.
No one needs to be told that parliament MPs have become the new fall guy in Bahrain, particularly in nido circles. They have been demonized and turned into the bogey man. Businessmen, journalists, newspapers and blogs have made a career of criticizing, ridiculing, mocking and blaming all our problems on them.
It is also true that our two most recent parliaments have been pretty much useless. This is an understatement. They have in fact been harmful to society. They have occupied themselves with tangential and ridiculous issues like gender segregation in universities, a witch-hunt of the spring of culture, and securing themselves fat pension plans. They are little more than a burden on the economy, costing millions of dinars. They barely amount to anything more than a vehicle for sectarian and political strife, holding punch-ups and swearing contests over tragic and serious issues like that of the massacre in Falluja.
But are they really one of the fundamental problems facing Bahrain? Are they the root cause of the mess we find ourselves in? Will our problems be that much solved if they are suddenly replaced? If they started behaving themselves and started discussing more important and serious issues?
To answer this question we need to look at the corollary of this viewpoint. This argument is premised on the idea that if somehow the current parliament is replaced by better MPs, then the problem, if not completely erased, will be greatly solved. For if the current MPs are the problem, then replacing them with better MPs will solve the problem! Let’s fill parliament with lawyers, economicsts, accountants and hey presto! Problem solved! Makes sense no? If the problem is current MPs, then simply take out the problem and replace it with something better. That should solve it. This is the logical deduction you reach from this line of argument.
It is also complete rubbish.
Stocking parliament chocful of nice, liberal professionals, economists, accountants and lawyers won’t cause the massive earthquake you are hoping for. Even if, for the sake of the argument, Wa’ad wins every single seat in parliament, not much will change in terms of what it can achieve. I won’t go into the arguments of why this parliament is uselessin detail, you can find a good summary of them here (look at section No. 2). The ridiculous voting constituencies, the shura parliament, the outrageous time-lag rules for passing any sort of laws, the absence of proper financial supervision, and the inability to question or criticize any of the top echelons of government make a mockery of even calling this deformity a parliament. Everyone knows this. Ibrahim Sharif, before he decided to participate in this shenanigan, described it best:
هو شكل فقط من غير مضمون، الإصلاحات التي قدمت يمكن تسميتها «قشرة هوليوود»..كما في أفلام الكاوبوي حينما ترى بيوتا، لكنها فعليا ليست سوى حائط كارتوني من الديكور لا شيء خلفها، والنظام أعطانا الحائط الكارتوني..انتخابات والمرأة تصوت ودوائر انتخابية وحملات وقوانين ودستور، لكن عندما تنظر خلف هذا الحائط تجد خواء وحسب..!
This Hollywood parliament is nothing but that: a big extravagant expensive Hollywood production. So how can you expect anything but Hollywood fireworks? How can you expect anything but posturing on Big Brother and Nancy Arjam, Spring of Sex, and sectarianism? They cannot criticize any influential person in the government, they cannot even have a good look at the government budget let alone set it, and they definitely cannot pass any useful laws. What much extra will we gain if we had “better, more enlightened” people in parliament? Sure, they’ll be able to raise more important issues, but then what? What more than hot air? Can they pass anything? Can they change anything? The only positive thing that can come out of such a utopian parliament is a massive clash with the government, deadlock, and finally being dissolved, a la 1975. The best thing that can come out of this parliament is its death.
This, remember, is IF all of those elected are “qualified” and suitable. This is assuming they can get through the voting irregularities and warped constituency setups. And this is assuming that the people vote them in.
What astonishes me the most is how can so many people vote for this thing. More than 50% in the first spectacle (although that figure is highly dubious), and an excess of 70% in the latest shenanigan. Isn’t it obvious? Isn’t it obvious that this is just one big hullabiloo? Isn’t it obvious that this is a mockery of the concept of democracy? Isn’t it obvious that this parliament is a joke, a prank, and not a funny one at that? Starting from voting-manipulation right down to its actual set up? You get what you vote for: one big over-hyped scam.
It’s high time we recognized what this thing is: a diversion. One big massive diversion. A scam, a scapegoat, a fall guy, a hanger. So much ink, time, money, and energy that could have been implemented in much more useful ventures has been wasted analyzing and sensationalizing this farce. Look how many articles, blog pieces, seminars and talks were wasted on this thing? How many times has parliament and its members’ antics taken up the first pages of newspapers? Compare this with how many times the problems of our health services , water, electricity and education infrastructure has taken centre stage? How about serious criticism of the higher echelons of government?
But MPs are after all an easy scapegoat. They are easy to criticize. They are one of the few things that you can criticize and mock in our country. Many of them even look scary. They are there. They are in the spotlight. Why don’t we just throw our problems and blame on them? Here are people who have actually performed badly, they are always occupying the news, and it is so easy and tempting to just place all our rage on them. Ater all, we often need something clear, someone definite that we can point to as the cause of all our problems. Someone to point to and put all the blame on. Someone that has to be the fall guy for the problems. Someone to demonize. And what easier target than MPs?
We waste our time sensationalizing and analyzing the antics of our esteemed MPs, and in the meantime we ignore more important issues. We get engrossed in squabbling over a red herring, an institution so feeble and so inconsequential that we lose sight of more pressing issues. And guess who’s laughing all the way to the bank? Guess what has escaped from the spotlight of criticism that deservedly should’ve been focused on it? Guess what has in fact been projected as a positive force, some sort of regularing authority that can keep a lid on the antics and extremes of parliament? While in fact it is the architecht and cause of this shenanigan and much more serious problems in the country?
Don’t get me wrong here. I am not defending the actions of the members of parliament. Neither am I saying that they should be immune from criticism. My point is that the members of this ineffectual parliament are the least of our worries. For example, the structure and setup of parliament itself is much more of a problem than the MPs themselves (and even this can pale into comparison with some of the other messes we face). Instead, this fetishization of MPs has been used as a distraction and a diversion from more important and pressing issues, and people have fallen for it. We have become preoccupied with their every single move while the real problems have remained and in fact have become even more entrenched. This energy would’ve been much better used if placed on the more important problems that face us. Water and electricity shortages, unemployment, sectarianism, corruption, lack of democracy and accountability, lack of sustainable industry, mediocre education and research facilities have existed way before this parliament and its MPs came into being. They are not the real cause of these problems and neither are they the solution. They in fact distract us from them.
It is high time we stopped fighting over what M.P. flan ben faltan said in parliament, ate for lunch, or listens to for enjoyment. They are a symptom of the problem, not the major cause.
To be continued……..
Clip choices of the day:
مسلسل درب الزلق – ابيها
مطعم باكه ( باجه