|Lesbian Arab blogger|
They lie to us. Sometimes we find out and, I suspect, most of the time we don’t. The latest example is a young lesbian Arab blogger, who was claimed to have been kidnapped in Syria last week. All sorts of people were outraged at her fate and calls were made for this, that and the other. It now turns out she was a he – a Scottish middle-aged he, apparently, with an interest in Middle East affairs, blogging from Edinburgh.
We should be alert to this kind of stuff by now. As far back as 1972 when the British Army lied through its teeth after Bloody Sunday in Derry (“The IRA fired on us” “They were carrying guns/nail bombs”), through loyalist gangs that were in fact loyalist gangs supported by British Army expertise (Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson), through dozens of other families who lost their loved ones through state collusion, through the needed invasion of Iraq because there were weapons of mass destruction – the list goes on.
So when I hear that popular movements for democracy are sweeping through the Middle East, that people without weapons or training are suddenly finding weapons and taking on and even defeating the forces of the state, when I hear that Colonel Gaddafi has supplied his troops with Viagra so they can rape more effectively (Wasn't Europe made anti-German in 1914 with tales of Belgian nuns being raped on tables?), a very large question mark materialises and hovers over my head. It might all be true. It might also all be a pack of lies.
What's amazing is not that governments and others lie to us. It’s that we’re gullible enough to go on, generation after generation, believing them. What was it Jeremy Paxman used to ask himself when interviewing a politician on BBC's 'Newsnight'? Oh yes: "Why is this lying bastard lying to me?"