Egypt is on her way to becoming changed by the will of the people. Such progress has been in spite of the west versus because of our intentions. Democracy is a fantastic thing for us, but when it applies to a society we view as inferior, it is no longer suitable.
For the past week or so I have read numerous op-ed pieces and watched several segments on Fox that promote a culture of fear. You see, a country with scary Muslims in it cannot be trusted to govern itself according to the talking heads. In the mind's eye of these pundits, the very possibility that segments of radical Islam exist force the west to oppose democracy in Arab states due to the outside chance that they may vote in governments that we cannot control. So folks like Glenn Beck hop on their soapboxes and shout that Muslims want to enact Sharia law in America because everyday Egyptians refuse to be ruled by a leader they did not choose.
The fact of the matter is that it has nothing to do with Islam. The west supports Saudi Arabia, a nation which executes gays and Pakistan, whose democratically-elected leader was overthrown in favour of a man who murders Christians and atheists. We support monarchies like Morocco and Brunei and party in the United Arab Emirates. We don't seem to have much of a problem with fundamentalist Islam at all, so long as those who are oppressed don't get too loud. We ignore the pleas of Amnesty International and sell weapons to both parties of wars because if they're killing each other it gives support to our propaganda campaigns.
So when a society's people disobey the west and stand up against our chosen dictators we are put in a very uncomfortable position. For to admit that we do not trust people to choose their leaders is elitist and supporting the people makes us disloyal to a preferred ally. Tunisia was a preferred recipient of aid, weapons were used to control the populace in an aggressive and oppressive police state. Everyday Egyptians are finding themselves on the business end of American-made weaponry in their fight for an ideal that most see as fundamentally American. Now Jordan's regime is shaking in its boots, and should revolution occur, it will be discovered that the people will be attacked by weapons made in North America. With each revolution comes the knowledge that the west has been long supporting despotism in the name of peace.
We preach emancipation whilst doing everything possible to ensure enslavement of those we view as less enlightened than us. But what is coming out of the Arab world protests is the indisputable fact that Tunisians and Egyptians are far more like us than the far right is comfortable admitting. For to acknowledge the humanity of others is to recognize just how arrogant the west has been in dealing with our fellow human beings. However, the fact remains that whether or not we give them permission, everyone wants to be free.
And as more people gain liberty, more will desire it, and we will have to alter the manner in which we view our fellow citizens in an increasingly denser global community. Instead of supporting endless series of atrocities in the name of commerce, we must engage cooperatively. True empathy states that we can no longer enable dominionism and authoritarianism. We must state in no uncertain terms that we have supported radical Islam and apologize for using might to do things that are far from right.
Photo credit: CBC