The past few days I have heard so many stupid things from friends, blogs, pundits, correspondents, politicians, experts, writers that I want to pull my hair. So, I will not beat around the bush, I will be really blunt and give you a handy list to keep you from offending Egyptians, Arabs and the world when you discuss, blog or talk about Egypt. Honestly, I would think most Progressives would know these things, but let’s get to it.
■“I am so impressed at how articulate Egyptians are.” Does this sound familiar? Imagine saying this about a Latino or African American? You don’t say it. So don’t say it about Egyptians. Gee, thank you oh great person who is of limited experience and human contact for recognizing that out of 80 million people some could be articulate, educated and speak many languages. Not cool. Don’t say it. You may think it, but it makes you sound like a dumb ass.
■“This is so sad”: No, sad were the thirty years of oppression, repression and torture.
■” I loved Sadat”: Mubarak was made of the same cloth of Sadat. Same repression, same ill-treatment of their people, yet you were all in love with Sadat. Hmm, where and when do you think the repression started? The State Of Emergency? Sadat was not loved by the Egyptian people. Why do you love Sadat?
■“What they did to the Mummies is horrible”: Yes, but who did it? Think, Mubarak, for years has been playing the “I am the stabilizing force”. The one thing you know about Egypt, the stuff that was underground and from the past, you will be distraught and find the protestors to be disgusting. Yet it was not the protesters who did it. In Alexandria, the young people protected the library. Did anyone carry that story? Statement from the Director of the Alexandria Library:
The library is safe thanks to Egypt’s youth, whether they be the staff of the Library or the representatives of the demonstrators, who are joining us in guarding the building from potential vandals and looters. I am there daily within the bounds of the curfew hours. However, the Library will be closed to the public for the next few days until the curfew is lifted and events unfold towards an end to the lawlessness and a move towards the resolution of the political issues that triggered the demonstrations.
■“The Muslim Brothers are Terrorists” Maybe you should look at their English Website, or try something easy like this link Check this out:
The Muslim Brotherhood is not on the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organizations list. It renounced violence in the 1970s and has no active militia (although a provocative martial arts demonstration in December 2006 raised some alarm that they may be regrouping a militia.)
Nevertheless, the Muslim Brotherhood or Ikhwan Al Muslimun in Arabic, is frequently mentioned in relation to groups such as Hamas and Al Qaeda.
■“The Twitter Revolution”. No, this is the Revolution of the Egyptian people. Egyptians resisted for decades. They were tortured, jailed and repressed by the Mubarak and Sadat regimes. Twitter and Facebook are tools. They did not stand in front of the water canons, or go to jail for all these years to get the credit. There were demonstrations all summer long and for a several years through out Egypt but they are rarely covered, because we are worried about what Sarah Palin said, or some moronic Imam saying something stupid. Does it sound a bit arrogant to take credit for a people’s struggle?
■“The women are so brave”: Egyptian women have always been brave. If you want to know about Sadat’s Egypt, read Nawal El Saadawi’s memoir while in jail. Memoirs from the Women’s Prison
■“Al Jazeera has come to its own”: Al Jazeera has been on it’s own, you just only noticed. . Do you think you believed the Bush administration spin about Al Jazeera? Just maybe you believed the bullshit? They must be doing something right if all the factions on the ground want to shut them down. The tyrants, the US and the Israelis. Hmm, maybe they are speaking truth to power?
■“Mubarak kept the peace treaty”: So, what do you think, if the Egyptian people choose another government, they will go to war with Israel? Maybe they will demand a few more things from Israel in how they negotiate with the Palestinians. Maybe Gazans will get better treatment? Maybe the balance of power will not be tipped over to Israel? Egypt protests: Israel fears unrest may threaten peace treaty. Hmm, so we should support the oppression of 80 million Egyptians for a false stabilization?
■“If they get Democracy they will elect extremists”. Imagine if the world said that about America. The Tea Party threatens world stability, as did the Bush administration. How would you like if others used that as a threat to support an autocrat who made all opposing parties illegal? In truth, US politics threaten world stability more than Egypt does. Second, the implication is that democracy is not to be trusted in the hands of “certain” nations, people and religions is offensive, racist and ignorant. You do not claim to value human rights, democracy and freedom and then you make exclusions based on race, nationality and religion. Don’t say this shit.
■“The people are so nice”: Yes they are, it’s your ignorant self that assumed they are all terrorists and fanatics. What did you think? Glad you went to Egypt and found the Egyptians nice. After all, they do have a cosmopolitan civilization of over 5,000 years, yet you reduced them to “rag heads” , “jihadists”, “ali babas”, “terrorists”, the list is endless. Imagine saying this about African Americans? Asians? Nope. Just don’t fucking say it. It’s patronizing.
It’s time Egyptians were heard. It’s time the pundits and “Egypt hands” (old recycled western diplomats) were retired. These people were as good at predicting the current events as our economists were in predicting the economic calamity. I am glad you all got to see things from Egypt outside your comfort zone. Maybe now, you can give Egyptians and Arabs some respect. The people in Egypt are struggling for human rights, dignity and freedom. Like the rest of us, they want the economic means to care for their families. Break down those closed ideas that dehumanize the Arab and Egyptian people in general. That is all I ask.