Each day we watch men, women and children out in protests for basic human rights. Things like the right to a fair election, the right to wear whatever they want, to live where they choose and to have the occupation they choose. Nothing fancy, this isn’t about expensive and complex medical care or mind numbing economic strategies. These protests are about the simplest rights that we, as Americans, take completely for granted.
And yet in payment for their troubles they are shot down in the most despicable displays of despotism imaginable. And what do these protesters do? Do they hide in their basements and deny any further involvement? Nope, they are back the next day burying their dead and getting right back to protesting. What kind of courage does that take? How brave are these plain everyday unarmed butchers, bakers and office workers to face down the guns of government day after day. Husbands, wives and children are being killed and still they keep on. How valiant, deserving of freedom could you possibly be?
And yet there are naysayers who would deflect this amazing show of indomitable courage with talk of crazed religious fundamentalists behind the protests. A coming dark movement back to the laws of the 13th century and the widespread adoption by these very same brave souls of an even worse despotic future. What are these naysayer’s smoking?
Do these people look like they want less freedom? What about the revolts in Egypt and Tunisia resemble the formation of Islamic states of all-powerful Mullahs? What do the leaders of the revolution in Libya have to be, besides being tired of being shot and bombed by their own government, to gain our acceptance? Why are children being shot daily in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen so threatening to these “old hands” at foreign policy?
Daily I hear talk of “It’s all about the oil” and “wait till the Jehadists take over…” from these otherwise sane sounding pundits. What?
Our government’s reaction may be about oil, the despot’s in power may be about oil, but I seriously doubt the last thought going through a child’s head, just before the bullet, was anything about oil.
This squeaking punditry is a left-over of 50 years of failed policy. These same voices seem like they will only be happy with a return to a quiet, desperate, despotic and explosive Middle East. The same one that produced religious fanatics in the first place. They threaten us with the dark specter of crazed “fundamentalists” to cow us into thinking these are not just regular men, women and children yearning for freedom. They couldn’t be anything like our founding fathers, could they.
These protestors don’t want “Sharia” law, they want equal rights. Scores of women aren’t marching through the streets of Damascus to insure their continued domination by a male-centered society. Especially when they could be shot or raped at the whim of the local commander of the “police.” Hundreds of people in Syria and thousands upon thousands of others in Libya have not died just to start a religious war with all the western nations.
The “Arab Spring” is the best thing that has happened to our western nations, and possibly the entire world since time immemorial. Isn’t this what we wan’t? Free nations full of free peoples, spreading democracy and equality across the most troublesome area of the planet? Is that just too threatening? I sometimes wonder if the real problem is that we failed to start this with our own power. Are we suspicious because it wasn’t imposed? If there is no victory do we then somehow loose? This is an amazing victory, it’s just that some of us can’t see it.
My heart goes out to these protestors, so brave and so few. Up against guns and tanks with nothing but ideals. But their numbers are growing, and it certainly looks like the spread of these demonstrations is unstoppable. Good for them. I fervently hope they win their own countries and the old US policy goes to hell in a hand basket, finally being forced to change with the times.
I am quite sure these protestors are “on the right side of history” and will celebrate this bloody spring for as long as we celebrate our own revolution. As to which side of history the US ends up on I hope it’s not with the fear mongers and naysayers. The US was not founded on fear and anger it was founded on hope, and if we often stray, may we ever return.
You would think after 5 straight unpopular and questionable wars in a row, some of these pundits would re-think the strategy of US imposed freedom. It hasn’t worked yet, would it ever? That doesn’t mean pretending not to be involved if we aren’t the main attraction, like a spoiled child taking his marbles and going home when no one want’s to play by his rules. If we can’t win the war, does that mean we ignore the slaughter? Maybe we can play second fiddle to the UN and more importantly to the inhabitants of the nations themselves, getting out of our own way long enough to see the light. Maybe just helping people to get their rights is a step on the long road back from being the planetary bully, a step in the direction of the right side of history. Maybe, it’s just a thought.
Copyright Prentiss Gray 2011