Our country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty…
Or so the song goes. But what really is coming to light in the midst of the people’s revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt is that America is not actively promoting liberty if it might interfere with its foreign policy.
The United States provides millions of dollars in military aid to Tunisia. In a WikiLeaks diplomatic cable that was recently released, America’s very own Ambassador called Tunisia,
a police state, with little freedom of expression or association, and serious human rights problems.
In Egypt, the United States provides $1.3 billion annually for mostly military aid to a known pro-torture government. WikiLeaks provided another cable confirming that,
“torture and police brutality in Egypt are endemic and widespread” and “there are literally hundreds of torture incidents every day in Cairo police stations alone.”
Back in 2005, The Times broke a story about how Egypt carries out torture for the United States.
The United States is not the champion of liberty we are told we are. We have been reduced to being a shameful state that supports anti-democratic tyrants because the devil you know…
This in and of itself should not be news if you pay attention at all to any number of news outlets or if you paid any attention in history class. What is interesting, and unfortunately expected, is the lengths to which American news outlets will go to make sure they provoke fear in the people’s revolution taking place in the Middle East.
Resident Washington Post douchebag Richard Cohen said yesterday that,
“My take on all this is relentlessly gloomy. I care about Israel. I care about Egypt, too, but its survival is hardly at stake. I care about democratic values, but they are worse than useless in societies that have no tradition of tolerance or respect for minority rights. What we want for Egypt is what we have ourselves. This, though, is an identity crisis. We are not them.”
Tolerance and respect for minority rights, eh? Not much of that going around right here in the United States (unless that minority is the richest of the rich). It’s about what our foreign policy interests are.
Even the ever entertaining Christian Broadcasting Network broke a story about how Egypt’s minority Copti Christians are bonding with,
“their Muslim neighbors”
while demonstrating a line of an inclusive, nationalist message.
Talking heads are concerned that the Muslim Brotherhood (fear, fear, fear) will take control of Egypt (fear, fear, fear) and then attack Israel (fear, fear, fear). They will go on and on about how they hate our freedoms and never mention that they really just dislike how we propped up their dictator who brutally repressed them.
The always briliant Salon.com published an article yesterday with Nathan Brown, who is a political science professor at George Washington Univeristy and the director of its Institute for Middle East Studies. He gives a brief once-over of the history of the Muslim Brotherhood, where they came from, what role they play, their “radicalism”, their size, how they specifically and repeatedly repudiate political violence, and whether or not we really should be concerned with the people’s revolution in Egypt. That link is here.
Another point that led the BrothersFiasco to internally discuss this situation was the soldiers and police officers discarding their uniforms and state-appointed duties and joining with the protesters. How many times have you just choked down something your boss told you to do that you were opposed to doing? How many times have you said, “oh well, my boss/representative/senator/president will never listen to me. Someone else can take care of it”? The BrothersFiasco, are apparently suckers for the honest conviction and poetic imagery of this scene.
“‘I can’t believe our own police, our own government would keep beating up on us like this,” said Cairo protester Ahmad Salah, 26. ‘I’ve been here for hours and gassed and keep going forward, and they keep gassing us, and I will keep going forward. This is a cowardly government and it has to fall. We’re going to make sure of it.”
Sound familiar? I digress.
On a final note, an interesting situation is happening during the revolution. As the revolution continues, there are municiple duties that have been abandoned and ignored because of the turmoil the Egyptian government is going through. This birthed the PCPPOT, or Popular Committee for the Protection of Properties and Organization of Traffic.
“The organization now counts dozens of members amongst its ranks, everyone from students to 40-year-old dentists. Divided into four branches—traffic, cleanup, protection, and emergency response—the PCPPOT often provides lightly armed guards (think pipes and knives) to walk women and children home at night and protect important utilities like water and power. If they catch a criminal, the team will hold him until the proper authorities can come pick him up.
“We want to show the world that we can take care of our country, and we are doing it without the government or police,” Khalid Toufik, a PCPPOT volunteer told The New York Times. “It doesn’t matter if one is a Muslim or a Christian, we all have the same goal.”
A people taking their own lives, present and future, into their own hands. Leading themselves and helping each other regain control of their fate. This is definitely going in the “things that give us hope” category BennettFiasco talked about recently.
What do you think about what’s happening in Egypt? Let us know in the comments.