America’s founding fathers stood up for their freedom, winning it from the British (with the help of the French).
The Egyptian people have stood up for their freedom, winning it from the Mubarak dictatorship (with the help of the army, which refused to fire a shot at the people, and may even have helped convince Mubarak to leave. See this and this).
The Egyptian people found their courage even when Mubarak’s thugs flew fighter jets low over their heads, beat and murdered protesters, and otherwise threatened violence.
But obviously, the American government is nothing like the Egyptian dictatorship, right?
- There is a stunning amount of inequality in Egypt. But America is even worse
- Mubarak stole billions from his people, while the American oligarchs may have stolen trillions. See this, this, this and this
- Egypt have been living under a state of emergency for 30 years. But Americans have been living under a continuous state of emergency for 10 years straight
- Mubarak was supported by the military. But the military -industrial complex has taken over America as well (moreover, there is a tradition in countries like Turkey for the military to ensure that religious fanatics do not take over the country)
- Mubarak ignored the wishes of his people. But the American government hasn’t been listening to it’s people either. For example, a 2010 Rasmussen poll found that “just 21% of voters nationwide believe that the federal government enjoys the consent of the governed”. A 2010 Gallup poll determined that nearly half of all Americans believe “the Federal government poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens”. Poll after poll shows that “both national parties are deeply unpopular with an electorate looking for something new and different”. Polls reveal that 82% of all Americans wanted Wall Street to be reined in in a substantial and meaningful manner, and yet nothing has really changed, and the government has let Wall Street have it’s way on all the important issues. Polls find that Americans want the big financial players who acted with fraud to be punished, and yet the government has let all of the big fish off the hook. And the government has ignored many other desires of the American people, including investigations into torture and spying on Americans, impeaching George W. Bush if he lied about Iraqi WMDs (which he did)
- Mubarak repressed his people and stifled dissent. Bush and Obama have haven’t been all that protective of liberty either
- Mubarak murdered and tortured people without following the rule of law. America hasn’t been wholly saintly in this regard over the last 10 years either (and see this)
I’m not saying that America is Egypt. I am saying that America today has a lot of problems also. (And if you think those problems started on 9/11, remember that virtually all of the current domestic and foreign policies were already in place or planned before 9/11.)
But unlike the Egyptian people, Americans have become scared of their own shadow. We have forgotten that courage and hope are choices – which do not have to come from John Wayne levels of testosterone, but can simply arise from loving something enough to want to protect it.
How Did We Turn Into the Oppressor?
How did we get on the wrong side of history?
The Egyptian People Have Changed the World
Minister Jim Wallis writes in an open letter to the Egyptian protesters today entitled “The Egyptian People Have Changed the World — It’s Their Turn to Lead”:
You have changed the world.
Remember, the United States was not talking about democracy in Egypt, not advocating it, not saying a transition is necessary and urgent, UNTIL you risked your security, safety and lives for the sake of democracy. You changed the conversation, and the conversation would be the same as it has been for decades if you hadn’t done what you did. Your generational peers are now watching what you are doing in countries across the Arab world, and beyond. This is the moment for you and for us.
You represent a new generation, a new leadership, and a new hope for the possibility of real democracy. Keep leading. My government, which still calls itself the beacon of freedom, has sacrificed democracy in your region of the world (and many other places) for American “interests.” And our foreign policy around the globe has put our interests before our principles. But they are not really the interests of the American people, but of oil companies, big banks and corporations, and rich and powerful people. Their interest in stability is very different from ours in democracy. So don’t be fooled, don’t listen to the so-called “wise” voices that have been part of the old reality and want to now thank you for your service to democracy, but are offering to take it from here.
Don’t let them. Keep demanding democracy — real democracy. Because, for the rest of us, democracy is the best defense of our “interests,” and the best path to genuine “stability.” And, for our part, we will do our best to stand with you. That will likely take sacrifice from all of us, because real change always does.
The Founding Fathers would be proud of the Egyptian people, just as they supported the French revolution. They would be disgusted at the spineless sheep that the American people have become.
Note: I love America and have lived here all my life. I criticize my country because I want to save her from the self-destructive, anti-American path that Bush and Obama have put us on. Just as the Egyptian people felt a need to speak out, so do I.
“Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”
“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country.”
– Teddy Roosevelt
“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”
– Teddy Roosevelt
“This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.”
– Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural
“These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for.”
– Franklin Roosevelt
“Those who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
– Ben Franklin