(PBS Frontline) Her family is part of the Egyptian elite, but 24-year-old Gigi Ibrahim says she's fighting for her country's future. With thousands following her Twitter feed, Gigi has become something of a celebrity in Cairo's Tahrir Square. In this video, we see her attempts to convince her family of the righteousness of her cause. But will they come around?
When asked by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! noted linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky brings up the current meme of comparing the uprising in Egypt with what is happening in Wisconsin. Since I'm a fan of this idea it's particularly sweet that a giant of the American Left is using it as well. The political right are at turns, either openly dismissive or virulently hostile to such comparisons. And they absolutely hate Noam Chomsky.
AMY GOODMAN: The New York Times coverage of Madison?
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, that was very interesting. In fact, I urge people to take a look at the February 12th issue of the New York Times, the big front-page headline, you know, banner headline, "Mubarak Leaves," its kind of subheadings say, "Army Takes Over." They’re about 60 years late on that; it took over in 1952, but—and it has held power ever since.
But then if you go to an inside page—I don’t know what page it is—there’s an article on the Governor of Wisconsin. And he’s pretty clear about what he wants to do. I mean, certainly he is aware of and senses this attack on public workers, on unions and so on, and he wants to be upfront, so he announced a sharp attack on public service workers and unions, as the questioner said, to ban collective bargaining, take away their pensions. And he also said that he’d call out the National Guard if there was any disruption about this. Now, that’s happening now to Wisconsin. In Egypt, public protests have driven out the president. There’s a lot of problems about what will happen next, but an overwhelming reaction there.
And I was—it was heartening to see that there are tens of thousands of people protesting in Madison day after day, in fact. I mean, that’s the beginning, maybe, of what we really need here: a democracy uprising. Democracy has almost been eviscerated.
The title on the video is from the famous Leonard Cohen song.
The video is actually a compilation of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) making the analogy of the recent unrest in Egypt with what is going on in Wisconsin. The links and quotes are from Heather's earlier post on Ryan.
Speaking on Morning Joe Thursday morning, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) compared the current situation in Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker (R) has inspired days of protests by proposing a budget that would remove key bargaining powers for public employee unions, to the recent unrest in Egypt that toppled the 30-year authoritarian rule of Hosni Mubarak, saying it's "like Cairo has moved to Madison these days."
..and another from NBC evening news where a protester in Madison makes the same comparison, albeit from the protesters point of view. Ryan seems to be equating Republicans austerity measures with the oppression of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. And pointed out by many, including Andrew Leonard at Salon.com:
On Thursday morning Ryan topped that headscratcher with a real doozy: He compared the protests currently raging in Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker's plans to crush public sector unions to the upheaval that brought down President Mubarak in Egypt. [...]
But when a Republican legislator voluntarily places his own party in the position of Mubarak, you have to wonder what's in the tea these people are drinking. Yes, yes, I know conservatives are worried that democracy in Egypt could lead to the Muslim Brotherhood taking power. But to the vast majority of people on this planet who paid attention to what happened in Egypt, the protesters were the good guys and Mubarak was the bad guy. The sight of people gathering peacefully in Tahrir Square was incredibly inspiring.
Ryan sees riots and Cairo-style destabilization in the masses who have risen up in Wisconsin. But that's not what Democrats and union members and Americans who don't share the Tea Party ethos are seeing. They're seeing the dramatic, exciting beginning of a pushback against Republican over-reach. If Paul Ryan thinks it looks like Cairo, well then, maybe he's right.
Mona Eltahawy comments on how Egypt's peaceful 18-day revolution didn't just bring down a dictator, it also toppled stereotypes about Arabs, who are often seen as violent and as a people who crave an iron-fisted strongman.
"Hello, I'm an Arab and I toppled two dictators in one month!"
Those were the words of a young Arab celebrating on Friday the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for 30 years. Mubarak stepped down just weeks after an uprising in Tunisia toppled Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali's dictatorship.
But Egypt's peaceful 18-day revolution didn't just bring down a dictator.
It toppled stereotypes about Arabs, who are often seen as violent and as a people who crave an iron-fisted strongman.
And it's helping to topple media portrayals that perpetuate those stereotypes. Those very same strongmen - such as Mubarak - often use those stereotypes to ensure the silence of western allies. They would argue only they could control their violent population.
In Tahrir Square was Alaa, a blogger friend who took me to my first protests in Cairo in 2005. He returned to Egypt from South Africa for the revolution. Also marching were Egyptian-American friends. They all did me proud!
From tech savvy young people, to businessmen, to scientists and farmers - thousands upon thousands joined pro-democracy demonstrations that told Mubarak and the entire world something Americans will still remember from Election 2008: Yes we can, too!
Mubarak tried everything to push them back home but they served him notice - we're not scared of you anymore.
He sent thugs, water cannons, tear gas, and still they came out. More than 300 died and hundreds more were injured, and still they came. And just as importantly their demonstrations were filled with "Selmeyya, Selmeyya" - that's the Arabic word for "peaceful."
By toppling Mubarak they have shown fellow Arabs that it's possible to bring about change through non-violence.
Now it's sexy and cool to be an Arab revolutionary! What an intoxicating message for a part of the world where the majority is younger than 30.
And now the entire region is captivated by our freedom rally. The baton started in Tunisia, which handed it to Egypt, which is now ready to hand it to the next candidate.
During a special Brian Lehrer Show in WNYC's Greene Space, journalist and activist Mona Eltahawy reacts to the breaking news that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned. This video is from minutes after the announcement.
Ed Schultz talked to The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel last night about the uprisings in Egypt and across the Middle East and the need for the United States to redefine our national security policies in the region. When Ed asked her about the many on the right who have been supportive of Mubarak and whether their labor's role in the movement might have had anything to do with it. Vanden Heuvel reminded him that neocons have never had much use for real democracy, whether it be at home or abroad.
SCHULTZ: How is in your opinion the president and his advisers and the State Department handling all of this now that we go to day number 18 and mixed signals from the president and really demeaning talk coming from the vice president telling these protesters to go home but—oh, by the way don‘t watch television. What do you make of all of this?
VANDEN HEUVEL: You know, I think we all need to step back a little and speak with some humility.
Egyptians are putting their lives on the line. Hundreds of thousands came out yesterday as you reported, Ed, across the country—labor, doctors, lawyers, across class, gender, religious lines. I think it is the Egyptians to sort out, and they will. They have shown the world, they have shown us what a democracy movement looks like.
I believe that behind the scenes, because this country has over invested in, quote, “stability,” propping up dictators, intelligence, security, military apparatuses that we have to be using our leverage, that $1.5 billion a year we give the Egyptian military, to make sure that there is some process, some outcome that will resolve in a more democratic country.
But as you pointed out, Ed, earlier, you know, the labor movement, others in Egypt, have been working toward this moment for years. And it is those people who in this country, human rights organizers and independent trade union organizers, were the ones who put a check on the repression, not our government.
So, I hope that this is a moment to redefine U.S. national security thinking in this region. It is a beginning. It is a process just as democracy is a process.
But we must begin to disinvest from security intelligence apparatuses which don‘t make us secure and reinvest in civic governance, and in economic development which Egypt as it emerges from this extraordinary moment will need desperately.
Lawrence O'Donnell talked to our only Muslim member of the House of Representatives, Keith Ellision about the way the right has used the crisis in Egypt to push conspiracy theories about the Muslim Brotherhood and President Obama.
O'Donnell asked Rep. Ellison about his interview with Rep. Steve King the previous night if there was anything he could say to his colleagues to get them to quit fearmongering by saying President Obams is a Muslim. Rep. Ellison said he'd be "more than happy to help enlighten my colleagues about issues about Islam, about the world in general." I applaud Keith Ellison for his willingness to do so, but sadly I have a feeling that any "enlightenment" would likely to fall on deaf ears that prefer the fearmongering for political gain.
After praising McCain for doing the right thing during the primary race with President Obama and telling the woman who told him that then candidate Obama was a Muslim, Rep. Ellision expressed to O'Donnell why he feels we need to be on the right side of history with the protesters in Egypt. Rep. Ellison feels the same way I'm sure a lot of us do including myself, which is that those protesters out there just want many of the same rights that we in the United States take for granted; the right to vote and have your vote mean something, the right to free speech and the right to have some sort or representative democracy that reflects the needs and wants of the voters.
What's really pitiful is -- compare and contrast if you've got the stomach for it this conversation about Egypt by O'Donnell and Ellison and their response to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's statements on the Muslim Brotherhood during a House committee meeting and Beck's hysteria from the same day.
While anyone may rightfully say that Ellison is painting as rosy a scenario as is possible on what type of government we may end up seeing in Egypt and how much influence there might be from religious groups once all of this plays itself out, Beck's almost 19 minute long rant is completely over the top. I think Beck has finally proved that there's absolutely nothing he can do on the air that will cause Murdoch to fire him.
Wael Ghonim gives his take to CNN on what's been going down in Egypt and where's it going.
I said also before: if you want to free a society, just give them Internet access, because people are going to, the young crowds are going to all go out and see and hear the unbiased media, see the truth about you know other nations and their own nation and they’re going to be able to communicate and collaborate together…. Definitely this is the Internet Revolution. I’ll call it Revolution 2.0.
And he's using more than just a trite, catchy slogan to get his point across. The time for negotiation was over as soon as the bullets began to fly.
This is no longer the time to negotiate, unfortunately. We went on the street on the 25th, and we wanted to negotiate, we wanted to talk to our government. We were, you know knocking the door. They decided to negotiate with us at night, with rubber bullets, with police sticks, with water hoses, with teargas, tanks and with arresting about 500 people…. Thanks, you know, we got the message.
Deadly seriousness combined with a wicked sense of black humor is a distinguishing characteristic of this revolution.