Monday, February 14, 2011


The events in Egypt were wonderful and, at the same time, revealed some serious disconnects in our policy, and our beliefs. For decades we have propped up local dictators in order to stop international conspiracies, specifically communism and Islamic fundamentalism. This just doesn’t look so smart anymore and, in fact, the United States, which has in some ways, been the most benign imperial power, comes off looking really bad in the third world. It is looking more and more like the “Do what is right, let the consequence follow” is the way to go. I am reminded of ol’ King Benjamin’s words:

it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.

If W. had anything right, it was that he maintained through much skepticism that people of Arab decent and the Muslim religion are just as capable and deserving of democracy as anyone. His mistake was, of course, trying to weirdly “impose” it on someone. I continue to hear euro-American pundits and smarty-pants people generally assert that “jacksonian democracy” or whatever they like to call it will take a long time to take root among people with “thousands of years”, or “many generations” of supposed “tribal” traditions, etc. that are supposedly against it. These are, however learnedly couched, little more than racial stereotypes.

I believe that all people are endowed by their creator (not by anyone else – they are gifts, birthrights) with certain inalienable rights. And among these(!) are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If anyone does not enjoy these rights on this earth, it is because some other person has stolen them. In the immortal words of reggae master, Carlton (of the Shoes), whom I have quoted elsewhere on this site, “God made man and he gave them all an equal share of blessings. Some men want to take it all and keep the rest of the world in bondage and oppression. But the Father, he’s not sleeping. He’ll set his people free. Better days are coming. Better days for you and for me.”

I am also reminded of Gandhi’s immortal and hopeful words:
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall -- think of it, ALWAYS.”

The Egyptians have proven that it is very difficult to govern the vast majority of a people for very long without their consent. Not only do they have people power behind them, I think they have a little bit of divine power. I have, in my adult life, watched the Berlin Wall and the iron curtain fall, something that very few anticipated. (Think of all the “sovietologists”.) I have also seen almost every Latin American country go from military junta to democracy in a very short period of time. I see no reason to expect repressive regimes that deny civic and religious freedom to continue in the Middle East, all the fossil fuel in the world notwithstanding. Things will change despite our bumbling (at best) efforts, not because of them. The march of freedom will continue until it rings “from every village and hamlet, from every state and city, until all of God's children - black men and white men, Jews, [Muslims) and Gentiles, Catholics, [Hindus, Buddhists, Jainists, Animists, Secularists, Mormons,] and Protestants - will be able to join hands and to sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last, free at last; thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”

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