Shallow and misleading opinion pieces such as Waleed Aly's on Lebanon in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald, which merely skate around issues and tell us more about the ignorance of the writer and the red lines he's afraid to cross, do nothing to enlighten readers on the issue at hand.
How do I know? Well, just take a look at the following selection of the 9 comments (now closed) in the thread which follow his piece online:
"'Only recently has this sectarianism become so radioactive.' Sorry, Waleed, this is pure wishful thinking! Look at the power that religious leaders have in places like Iran, and it is obvious that 'political' has religious fanaticism at its core: there are no deeper reasons for intolerance and for more than half the Middle East's problems."
For Rex, the Middle East is just one big blur - Lebanon=Iran; the overriding problem is political Islam; and USrael is nowhere in view.
"This is what the money for nothing that is crude oil will buy you. A pity it poured into arming militias and stirring up trouble but there you are."
For Don, the problem is that your Ayrabs won the oil lotto, and Ayrabs being Ayrabs, they just can't handle their winnings, know what I mean? Nothing to do with things like imperialism or colonialism or that spoilt Israeli brat and his permissive US dad.
"It reminds me of the thirty years war in Europe in the 1600s. Protestants v Catholics. Sunnis v Shiites. History repeats itself with bigger guns. Now we have a milder form of Christianity. Hopefully something similar will happen [to] Islam."
For Andy, religion's the root of all evil. And the beast can rear its ugly head anywhere, anytime, though thanks to Western Genius it's under control here. (Although, after listening to Christopher Pyne recently, I'm wondering what rough Judeo-Christian beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born.) Don't, whatever you do, confuse Andy by mentioning those besties, the US-backed, sectarian, Jews-only state of Israel and the US-backed, sectarian, Sunni Muslim-only state of Saudi Arabia.
"Yes Andy we got it out of our system a few hundred years ago. Hopefully the Muslim world will get their act together one day."
Yeah, like we've really got our act together, right Marky?
Here's Lazy Jesus:
"'The National Museum of Beirut houses one of the greatest prehistoric collections in the world.' Presumably this is where the Muslim guidelines for the treatment of women are kept."
But wait, what's this?
"If you go a bit deeper you'll find Israel's involvement in this mess."
Right on, Julian, at last the elephant-who-occupies-the-room! Bet he's going to list Israel's serial aggressions against Lebanon, something like this, to name but a few:
1968: 13 passenger planes destroyed at Beirut airport;
1973: raid on Beirut, killing 3 PLO officials;
1978, Operation Litani River, installing Lebanese puppet force (South Lebanon Army) before withdrawing;
1979 car bomb attack on PLO official;
1982 Operation Peace for Galilee > occupation of West Beirut > Sabra & Shatila massacre > Israeli/SLA occupation of South Lebanon until 2000;
1992 assassinates Hezbollah leader Sheikh Abbas Musawi;
1993 Operation Accountability launched against Lebanon;
1996 Operation Grapes of Wrath launched against Lebanon;
2006 Operation Just Reward launched against Lebanon.
"Lebanon should already be a serious cultural, economic and financial (albeit peaceful) competitor to Israel with a geographic advantage. While the world's best and brightest Jews moved into Israel, the best and brightest Lebanese went into exile."
Finally, there's Thepres:
"Julian, If a country like Lebanon thinks nothing of killing it's [sic] own people with car bombs, it cannot be taken seriously by the rest of the world. Perhaps if the best and brightest Lebanese would return from exile they could change things. The answer of course is that they will not be returning to be killed by their own people urged on by the clergy."
Fair dinkum... where do you even begin? Certainly not with Waleed Aly's rubbish that's for sure.