Wednesday, February 02, 2011


"When a regime withdraws the police entirely from the streets of Cairo, when thugs are part of the secret police, trying to give the impression that without Mubarak the country will go into chaos, this is a criminal act. Somebody has to be accountable. And now, as you can hear in the streets, people are not saying Mubarak should go, they are now saying he should be put on trial. If he wants to save his skin, he better leave." –-Mohamad ElBaradei
Hosni Mubarak's ominous comment "...the Homeland goes on but the people do not...", in the midst of a speech where ordinary Egyptians were expecting (at least hoping) for him to announce his resignation, served as quite an eye-opener. The immense crowd in Cairo, roared back as they listened to him explain why he is still indispensable until September; and while they massed in the early morning darkness, their shout was for him to just "Leave".

Mubarak's hated police and his more hated Ministry of Interior, have made people recoil in fear for a long time; but the people began shouting back in unison that they would no longer be objects of abuse. When it becomes customary for police to beat or torture people taken into custody, when the face of a policeman on the street becomes that of a snarling bully who manhandles citizens at his whim, it means that civil society is broken.

What is terrifying is that a nation of over 80 million was placed for so long at the mercy of 1.2 million goons, their hirelings, and accomplices. Bernhard, who hosts at Moon of Alabama, describes this problem:
What to do about the 1.2 million people who work for the Interior Ministery and suppressed the people and protected the regime? Leaving them without income is dangerous, keeping them impossible. The economy is in bad shape - a social-democratic middle ground needs to be found to heal it while also lifting the poor from their mess. It will take years.
The US administration, as Hosni Mubarak's not-so-secret benefactor, embarrassed and contradicted itself at every turn. Vice-President Biden, like a stooge in an expensive suit, maintained that Mubarak is not a dictator. Old Hosni was a dear and reliable ally, serving at the pleasure of officials in Washington, as reputable as the derelict American press could arrange for him to be, lionizing him as a stabilizing presence in the region. Mubarak's counterfeit democracy and brutal repression were skimmed over in US newsrooms; and with press releases in their sweaty hands, the scribes hunched over the sacred writ from today's White House salespeople, acting submissively, just as they had done during Bush's years.

In the United States and Israel, the usual suspects persist in adding disinformation to the news; accusing protesters, labeling them, pointing at them, as looters and rioters. The protesters have been militant and defended themselves, but their behavior has been remarkably good in their large numbers, in these circumstances. Their anger at the Mubarak regime is justified. The real looters have been professional; sometimes shot by soldiers, and sent to hospitals, where they were found with police identity cards. This is the practice used by corrupt governments; they foment chaos themselves; they order it done to bring discredit to those who are protesting in the streets, and to prey on the fears of society at large, with the idea that the authorities alone can fend off social collapse.

President Obama and Secretary Clinton have been tangled up for days in the hypocrisy of their country's insipid diplomatic language. But the real heroism and social responsibility applies to masses of Egyptian people, who have taken steps to heal an abused nation; it is a profound contrast to the world of make-believe, which our president tried to sell to us, in his latest State of the Union speech. The contrivance and junk rhetoric has just worn out its welcome: the stupid recycling of the "Sputnik moment" from a Cold War mentality, morphing into an economic vision of green energy renewal; but for an empire in decline, which can't manage infrastructure or maintain decent wages at home, the US Empire can still build schools and pulverize villages in Afghanistan. And Obama capped all this off by wearing out the phrase, "winning the future".
Winning the future.
Isn't the cry about winning the future just a handy strategy to keep an old exhausted mule tugging at its harness? Winning the future, as rhetoric, is like the long pole with a carrot at the end of it; just enough incentive for a mule.

While Obama points to a worthy citizen in the gallery, and bathes in that person's reflected glory, while he gesticulates and prattles about winning the future, ordinary Egyptians have done something that should humble him, and all the rest of us. Unlike Americans, Egyptians seem to be mastering their fears; and if they can continue this way they will be thinking more clearly. But there is no going back; and it's best to wish them well. They refuse to be coerced any longer by Mubarak's brutality or ever bow down before his brutality again. Once the people take a step like that, they have proven how great they are.

Image: Cairo's Tahrir Square (via Moon Of Alabama)

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