This past week has been an incredible time to watch the news. To see a wave of revolution begin to sweep across the Middle East is a rare peek into the process of humanity’s yearning for the better things in life, beginning with the very most basic freedoms a culture can ask for.
It has been a pleasure to see the Egyptian people take their lives, their fortunes and their national honor into their hands and demand redress of a repressive government, asking relief from a government that fails to protect its people from economic ruin caused by wealthy corporations, backs the torture of prisoners, jails opponents without trial and protects the wealthy elite from the vagaries of economic cycles, forcing the poor to live without a safety net… wait … hold on, something sounds familiar about that.
No, could it be? Is it possible?
Man, I’ve been wondering why the Republicans have been so silent about this wave of revolutions. Usually they are so quick to note the similarity between popular revolutions and our own, but this time they have been so quiet. Usually, they praise the courage and bravery of the protesters as they bring down an oppressive government, but strangely, this time, they have not.
Could it be they have noted that the characteristics of the Egyptian government are just a little too close to the new Republican values this time? Think about it. Protection of the wealthy, laws that favor the wealthy elite and their businesses, failure to protect the poor, if not outright exploitation of them. A failure of the Republicans to condemn torture and the unending, indefinite nature of the detainment of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay without trial. Sound familiar? It should be, these are the hallmarks of many of the dictatorships in the Middle East, and finally, the Tunisians, the Egyptians, the Sudanese, the Syrians and others are beginning to bestir themselves to bring down these nasty men of little honor.
Please, don’t get me wrong. I am familiar with the requirements of realpolitic and the need of our government to secure our supply of life-giving oil. I know that in the past it has been necessary to be pals with some of the scum of the earth in order to feed our need for energy. Even today, in the midst of this new wave of uprisings, we still need to treat them with kid gloves, lest some of our current crop of scum dictators friends, get the idea that they might be next to get tossed under the bus.
Sometimes, yes, diplomacy means having to hold your nose when shaking hands.
If only politics at home weren’t beginning to have the same scent… er, flavor.
It is interesting that it is the middle east where people have finally woken up to the nasty nature of a political elite that favor the wealthy over everybody else, exploit the poor and deny human rights to opponents before the American people. We are so smug about our superior, modern progressive values that we have been blind to the conversion of an old trusted political party into something that Lincoln would never have recognized, much less accepted.
There was a time when the Republicans honored the values that made this country great. When they did not twist those values into something unrecognizable to the Founders they profess to worship so highly. But now, they not only twist those values, they twist history, intertwining lies with the truth in teaching our youth about the founding of this country, building the basic blocks of theocracy and oligarchic dictatorship while wrapping themselves in a flag that should stand for something else.
We live in dangerous times, when men like Rush Limbaugh can laugh at the attacks of an endangered dictator upon the free press - until reporters of his chosen network of propaganda become targets. When men like Glenn Beck can twist the current events in Egypt into a sinister plot to overthrow western civilization, and his audience not only does not turn him off, but listens, I begin to wonder about the applicability of the old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times”!
The now famous quote from Sinclair Lewis, 'When Fascism Comes to This Country, It Will Be Wrapped in the Flag Carrying a Cross', is as apropos as ever today, and should be taught in every classroom in the country - right after evolutionary biology and modern physics!
Think again about the protesters in Cairo and every other Egyptian city. They have lived with such a regime for the last fifty-eight years, from Nassar to Mubarak. Civilian puppets bobbing on the strings of a military dictatorship with oligarchic characteristics. Today, they have participated in a massive protest, one the military has tried to hide from view by a coordinated attack on the free press.
Is that the future of this country? Is that what you want your children or grandchildren to live under? Is it possible that the freedoms we have taken for granted could be so easily swept away that it could take a second American revolution to correct the situation?
I know, it sounds so alarmist, so… kooky. Kind of like flying saucers, you know?
But it could happen, and it will, unless the American people can begin to see the illogic of backing a party that professes to honor the principles of individual liberty while backing the use of the power of the State to push one specific religious viewpoint. A party that refuses to condemn torture or indefinite detainment and warrantless surveillance of the American public.
All tools of dictators. Totalitarian governments. Theocracies. Oligarchies.
Nasty words, aren’t they? Conjuring pictures of concentration camps, middle of the night arrests and summary executions.
What can we do? Can we do anything?
Of course we can. We can spread the truth.
Fight for science education in the schools. Fight against religious indoctrination in public schools and the diversion of public school funds into religious schools through innocuous sounding voucher programs.
Every time you hear someone say this country was founded as a Christian nation, set them straight. Loudly and vociferously.
Fight the current trend to post the ten commandments or say prayers at city or county council meetings.
Fight for progressive ideals that protect the poor and control and restrain the wealthy elite.
Above all, if you are part of the silently non-religious that keep quiet because of a fear of being exposed to the majority, SPEAK OUT and make yourself known! It is ONLY through banding together to oppose the use of religion to make this country into a religious oligarchy that we can protect our descendants from having to live under a regime that would curb our freedoms and turn this country into the kind of place that millions have come here to avoid!
Two hundred and thirty four years ago, our forefathers did what no people had ever done before - they fought a king for their freedom and won! It took them over eight long years, but finally, they prevailed.
This week, the Egyptians are fighting for their own freedom. I hope I can honor their sacrifices in actually paying attention to their actions.
So let us take their example, take the lessons of history to heart and do what the Republicans have twisted into their own message - let’s take our country back!