Sunday, January 30, 2011

We Should All Walk Like Egyptians


One of my closest friends produced The Bangles' #1 hit "Walk Like An Egyptian," but I couldn't resist posting the cover version above by actual Egyptians Hakim and Cleopatra. Most Americans didn't know much about Egypt beyond this song and maybe the pyramids and Elizabeth Taylor-- other than stuff-to-do-with-Israel. Even the Suez Canal doesn't seem all that important anymore. And Egyptian cuisine... oh God, the worst. Otherwise I'd go out and have an Egyptian meal tonight to celebrate the heroism of the Egyptian men and women of all ages and ideologies who have taken their lives in hand, and in some cases given up their lives, to stand up to tyranny. It's more than most people anywhere ever do. I could barely take my eyes off the English version of Al Jazeera (TimeWarner banned it from the California airwaves, so online) the last few days. Yes, this week we're all Egyptians, unless we watch Fox, in which case we're stupid shitheads with no brains who see al-Qaeda behind every bush.

Back to stuff-to-do-with-Israel. I listened live when Mohamed ElBaradei did his Al Jazeera interview from Cairo today. Here's a piece from YouTube:

Please listen. I don't want to transcribe it, except I do want to say how embarrassed I was when I felt his indignation-- indignation I shared-- when he was asked about the reaction to the uprising, in the form of statements, by the United States and other Western powers. "I'm not satisfied with these statements, which are preaching democracy and social justice. They have two options: to take the side of the people or the regime. We cannot have a middle ground here. These countries should recalculate their agendas. Change is coming, no doubt, and the Egyptian people will look at those countries from different perspectives according to their stances."

The interviewer then asks ElBaradei about what many in the West care about exclusively in regard to Egypt, not counting oil: Israel. Egypt is an ancient civilization with a population of 80,000,000 and a GDP of about half a trillion dollars; Israel, which was founded in 1948, has a population less than a tenth of that and a GDP of around $200 billion. ElBaradei's blood pressure must have gone into orbit.
This is a humiliation to the Egyptian people. It is the people who will decide their destiny. It is the Egyptian people who will hand down their own policies... The outside forces cannot decide the destiny of the people. It is us who will do so.

I hope the poor man isn't watching Fox-- or, for that matter, any American TV-- since one might get the impression that the rising up of tens of millions of Egyptians against a brutal and oppressive tyranny is somehow about Israel or even America. It's about neither, and if Obama backs torturer-in-chief Omar Suleiman to maintain the status quo by succeeding Mubarak, it will quickly turn into something about America, and in a very bad way.

A clueless and senile John McCain, always ready to make anything and everything about him spoke earlier today on CNN about how the Egyptian peoples' valiant struggle really just comes down to how we cannot afford a Tiananmen Square in Cairo. "It's fraught with danger... The longer this unrest the more likely the radicals see openings to take power. The Lenin scenario," continued the raving idiot who Arizona voters should have had the good sense to retire after he helped steal billions, Mubarak-style, in the Savings and Loan scandal.

You can probably imagine that we here at DWT are very excited for the Egyptians (and the Tunisians) for taking their fates into their own hands and ridding their countries of tyranny. But we aren't deluding ourselves into believing that the future of Egypt is now going to automatically be fabulous. Could it be worse than it is now? It could-- although I don't believe it will be, not for the hard-pressed Egyptian people. Right now they're probably far more democratically oriented than, say, the American teabaggers who overwhelmingly hate democracy. As author and Philadelphia journalist Will Bunch pointed out in his newest book, The Backlash, teabaggers are convinced that "the majority was no longer worthy of power in this great experiment of a democratic republic, since the majority was now 'the handout people' from up near Wilmington." We briefly looked at the context he was talking about last week when we discussed why teabaggers are certain Obama is not a legitimate president:
[The] urban nature of Obama's support was exactly the point that the Garcias and Russ Murphy were awkwardly trying to make. When Alex Garcia has finished his monologue [how McCain won more land] about the big states and the small states, you sheepishly note-- more of a question than a statement, really-- that Obama and his native-son running mate Joe Biden actually carried Delaware, did they not? (By a landslide margin of more than 100,000 votes in fact.)

"What it is," said Alex Garcia, "... is Wilmington."

"Wilmington!" chimes his wife, Theresa.

Wilmington, with 72,826 people, an hour north of your diner booth, is the largest city in Delaware by far-- capital of the American credit-card industry and also plagued by more violent criminal enterprises, a crowded world apart from the marshy spaces of lower Delaware. The city of Wilmington is roughly 10 percent Latino and about 35 percent black; in 2008, Obama carried New Castle County-- Wilmington and the surrounding suburbs-- by a two-to-one margin while McCain narrowly won the rest of the state, including small towns that his running-mate Sarah Palin once called "the pro-America parts of the country."


"They get a lot of influence from New Jersey and New York because a lot of the New York and New Jersey people live in Wilmington, and that's a big influence," Alex is saying, "and they're really into the welfare state-- it's a handout area up there. When you start coming down below the [Delaware] Canal into Kent County and Sussex County, it's a totally different way they voted."

A long silence settles in over the table. Plates clink. Toddlers babble in the background, as soft rock descends from a speaker overhead. The big platters of spaghetti and meatloaf arrive, and the once talkative Murphy is bent over his mound of pasta, handing off to the Garcias the task of further explaining McCain's glorious 2008 victory.

But, you finally stutter, should votes from Wilmington actually count less?

"There's more of them," Theresa says.

"It's population," adds Alex.

"They're in the big cities," says Theresa. "That's what the problem is."

So are you saying that voters from Wilmington aren't the real America?

"They represent the welfare America, the handout America-- what do they call it, the nanny state, everybody is taken care of," explains Alex. "When you get into the big areas like that, everybody is expecting their free handout... You have a lot more of the... how would I put it... a lot more of the welfare recipients, stuff like that."

There is a famous and somewhat apocryphal anecdote about the New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael saying from her liberal bastion in Manhattan that Richard Nixon could not have won the 1972 election because every single person she knew voted for George McGovern. Here is the flip side: that looking out on the "pro-America" horizon from the Kirby & Holloway, it is impossible to imagine that someone like Barack Hussein Obama could have won a presidential election-- or even that he is a United States citizen. These things are the pillars of a shared faith.

...Their uprising was something the likes of which America had never seen before-- whiter, older, and more affluent, yet angrier than anyone could have expected, whipsawed into rebellion not by the hormonally raised expectations of youth but instead by a nonstop sedentary couch-potato bombardment of unfiltered fear.

Egypt's revolution is a real one, and a broader one. All segments of the Egyptian population other than regimistas are part of it, or at least praying for it. Revolutions are dicey things, and often eat their own children but if I had to say who I trust more, the teabaggers or the Egyptian people, it's a no-brainer.

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At 2:39 PM, Blogger Louis V. Galdieri said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good One!

- dredeyedick

At 8:33 PM, Anonymous Tom M said...

Kent and Sussex Counties, the pro slavery parts of Delaware that would have seceded if they had the opportunity. Way things are going, that's probably what they hope for now.
Assess (without the extra "s"/


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