A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Post in Lieu of the End-of-Year Retrospective I Probably Won't Write

Sorry, I just can't resist printing this picture yet again.
This is the time of year when publications, newspapers, websites, etc, all do their "looking back on 2011" retrospectives. Does anybody actually read those? I don't, though I've written a few in my day. I'm on vacation this week; why should I write something even I don't particularly want to read?

You know what happened. Whether you called it "the Arab Spring," " the Arab Awakening," or "Why are My Loyal Loving Citizens Baying for my Scalp?" (if you were a head of state), it happened, and is mostly still happening. So far only one dead head of state, Qadhafi, but lots of dead revolutionaries, especially in Libya and Syria. It's an unfinished business.  Will Egypt's revolution end in revolutionary progress, Islamist regression, military rule, or not with a bang but a whimper? Damned if I know. Will Bashar al-Asad survive? I wouldn't want to sell him a long term life insurance policy, but who can say for sure? Will Salih ever actually leave Yemen?

Now, I think, while avoiding a "Major Stories of 2011" retrospective you won't read anyway,  I may do a collection of some of the most iconic photos of the year, but as for a retrospective, it's all in the archive. I may even list some of my own favorite posts of the year, which are mostly the historical ones. And after January 1 I may give you a summary of what the most popular posts of the year by number of pageviews were. But I don't think I'll relive the year in detail, since who needs to relive what we're still living?

I do note many changes in theme, by looking at my labels/topics list (officially "Categories" over there on the lower right). Although the sexual harassment and abuse of women is a notorious and longstanding problem in the Middle East, and the label has 12 posts in it, every single one of them is from 2011. That's not because the problem arose in 2011 for the first time, but because the revolutionary fervor and the presence of men and women together in the angry streets drove it into the forefront of our attention. Good. Women need to scream about it and men need to stop their denial and hear what they're saying. The Arab revolutions have brought such issues to the forefront, even as they have empowered the Islamists whose views are at odds with the young revolutionaries but whose presence in the streets helped bring down the old regimes.

This rollercoaster ride has just begun, I suspect. I'll talk more about it in the new year of course. Meanwhile, hang on for the ride.

No comments: