Exactly 50 years ago last month I was lolling by the pool of the Saint Georges Hotel in Beirut, surrounded by bikini-clad women of uncertain virtue, spooks, pimps, journalists, and rotund Lebanese playboys.
The scene was straight out of the movie Casablanca, except we all wore swimming trunks and there was no Rick to run the show. I was waiting for two journalists from the French news weekly Paris Match, who planned to drive us to Amman, Jordan, where King Hussein was fighting a war of survival against the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
The day before our departure, French journalist Geneviève Chauvel, a blonde beauty known to be the king’s girlfriend, asked me to take a letter to him. I accepted with alacrity, as it meant I could get into the palace and get my story. A few miles north of Irbid we were stopped by a PLO contingent.
While the three of us anxiously waited in an interrogation room, Alain Taieb announced that he was Jewish and a goner. Jean-Pierre Moscardo said, “Not necessarily.” I said that if anyone was a goner it was I, because I had a letter on my person for the king that was making mincemeat of the Palestinians.
In a panic we ripped opened the letter and read one of the most erotic notes ever written. Under the circumstances, sex was the last thing on our minds. As soon as we finished reading we tore it up and ate it together. As I was the carrier, I was asked to eat the envelope. As I took the last unpleasant swallow, a fighter came in, showed us his upturned fist, and said, “Free to go, free to go.”
We never made it to Amman, as patrol after patrol stopped and interrogated us, and I was soon back by the pool at the Saint Georges. That den of iniquity is now in ruins, having been blown up during the civil war. Lebanon has been in the news lately after a horrific explosion in its harbor blew half the city away, bringing down its umpteenth government as a result.
The story comes to mind because of what’s taking place in America as I write. No, the U.S. is not about to turn into Lebanon. However, the campaign of hate and destruction against American institutions reminds me of the atmosphere in Lebanon during my first visit.
Lebanon was founded in 1943, carved out of Syria by Britain and France after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. From the beginning it was always a failed state, unable to protect or feed its people or defend its borders. Corruption by its elite, factionalism, sectarianism, and lack of democratic accountability were its problems. Shiites, Sunnis, Druze, and Maronite Catholics jockeyed for power and influence. Palestinian refugees, Israeli incursions, Iranian backed militias, and various warring tribes further complicated matters. Basically, Lebanon was a place where tribes with different flags competed.
The civil war solved nothing, but produced more poverty and misery in the most volatile part of the world. Even 77 years after its birth, Lebanon still has no formula for governing that satisfies its warring tribes—the state can neither be fixed nor helped. It’s all due to foreign meddling at the start that now has given way to a new generation of oppressors: Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.
Beirut back then had a similar feel to New York City today, with multi-billionaires living in posh and expensive buildings on Fifth Avenue, rubbing shoulders with aggressive panhandlers and out-of-control shooters. The streets of both cities rat-infested and filled with rotting garbage. In large American cities today, public urination, defecation, and drug dealing are the norm, and all civil disobedience is accepted if it occurs under the radical banner of Black Lives Matter, the PLO of the present moment.
Uncontrolled immigration has turned America into a factional Babel, a giant, continent-sized Lebanon with every sect and race pulling for its own. The latest BLM message is to defund police, abolish prisons, and destroy the Western-prescribed nuclear family. America’s tear-it-all-down leftism, with its despotic anti-white racism, its relentless campaign by the media against the Christian, white middle class, and its war against long-established customs and beliefs, cannot have a happy ending.
Beliefs of all sorts are best understood in terms of their consequences. The rioters in America today have no idea what the consequences of their actions will be. A trip to Beirut would set them straight, but perhaps the extent of their geographical knowledge is limited to the campuses they are at present disrupting.
Taki Theodoracopulos is a writer living in New York, London, and Gstaad. In addition to his long-running High Life column in The Spectator, Taki writes Under the Black Flag for each number of Chronicles, and publishes Taki’s Magazine, a webzine.