Saturday, February 26, 2011

Asma al-Assad, or the psycho terror of children

David Kenner's excellent blog highlights the ridiculous puff piece on Syria's ruling family in Vogue: Asma al-Assad, A Rose in the Desert.

"It's hard to imagine that a Vogue editor woke up this morning and decided it wouldn't be hugely embarrassing to publish a puff piece today, at the moment of the greatest upheaval in the Middle East in two generations, about Syria's ruling family. But that appears to be exactly what happened."

The most revealing part of the article, though, is the description of the psychological terror Asma uses on a visit to a school run by her charity, Massar. She tells the children:

"I’ve been advised that we have to close down this center so as to open another one somewhere else,' she says. Kids’ mouths drop open. Some repress tears. Others are furious. One boy chooses altruism: 'That’s OK. We know how to do it now; we’ll help them.'
Then the first lady announces, 'That wasn’t true. I just wanted to see how much you care about Massar."

I suppose this behaviour is rationalised somewhere in Asma's subconscious. She is simply preparing Syria's less fortunate children for the type of tests they will get at the hands of the Syrian state as grown-ups.

Why did Vogue's Joan Juliet Buck write this article? France's satirical Charlie Hebdo has an interesting investigative report  about how Ben Ali bought off the French Press: "La Presse Française achetée par Ben Ali." But I am not suggesting that Ms. Buck is sleazy. I just think that she lacks common sense.

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