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Monday, February 14, 2011

It's Just Like the American Revolution! Not...

U.S. Declaration of Independence ratified by t...Image via Wikipedia

 Watching the mainstream media over the weekend was like watching a kid open presents on Christmas Day as they reported on events in Egypt. The funny thing is, the results are going to be about the same in a few weeks. The toys will be broken and the kid will be banging around the house looking for the next thing to do.

Media outlets are exclaiming that Egyptians are moving toward democracy just like America and is tantamount to the American Revolution of 1776.

Hardly. In fact, it speaks volumes about American ignorance of our own history and also about what is really going on in Egypt.

In order to make an accurate comparison you have to look at the two situations before their respective revolutions. In America, in 1775, things were actually pretty good, at least from an economic point of view. The average American had a good standard of living (for the period), was generally employed or a landowner and food was plentiful. Egypt,on the other hand, is suffering from massive unemployment, low wages, and expensive and scarce food. Conditions could not be more different. The primary motivating factor for the colonial Americans was onerous and oppressive taxation from King George, as well as a feeling of general misrepresentation of their needs in England.

In this, America and Egypt WERE the same; Egyptians felt disenfranchised from their government, and rightly so. Mubarak controlled the Egyptian Parliament and had added rules to the Constitution on 'emergency powers' that cemented his control over the people. He had acted outside the legitimacy of his own Constitution  which had fundamental protections for the people. But this is the only similarity between the two revolutions.

The Americans and the Egyptians reacted to their predicament in completely different ways as well. Despite what the talking heads in the media exclaim, the American Revolution was not marked by rioting in the streets demanding the destruction of their own government. In fact, just the opposite. The leaders of the American Revolution were made up of various citizen leaders, like Egypt, but they acted in a judicious and measured manner. They first presented their claims to the English government in Parliament in London, long before the true separation again. Furthermore, the Americans met in legal meetings and wrote a seminal document declaring themselves free and separate people; the Declaration of Independence. The critical thing, is that the Americans did not throw out their own state Constitution nor dissolve their crown appointed state Congress', which is what Egypt did. Instead, Tory (pro crown) state legislators stepped down or were forced out and the remaining members met in Philadelphiaand reelected new members.

This is central to why the Egyptian people are in trouble, and do not know it yet. They have no direct protections, and the leaders of the rebellion have not declared their intent in a legal document, nor acted in public manner. There is no authority to which they can make their case known. They are simply an angry mob.

It was upon this Declaration that the English crown declared the American colonies in a state of rebellion and armed troops were sent in to quell it. Troops, acting on orders from the king, turned their guns on the colonists and seized their property. 

This is actually the complete OPPOSITE of what is going on in Egypt. The people have no legitimate leadership at this point, they have destroyed any sort of legal protections they might have had with their own Constitution, tossed out the democratic Parliament, and have left the military in charge to decide things- a military who clearly can be bought, and controlled by a dictator. They are not a citizen's militia, nor defenders of democracy.
Under these conditions, the people of Egypt will have little to no chance of developed a legal government and most likely will simply get another dictator, as the grasp for some sort of interim government. More importantly, it is unlikely any sort of election with any legitimacy will occur. 

The revolution in Egypt was instigated in order to create these very conditions. Where the leaders of the American revolution made every attempt to avoid bloodshed and established democratic conditions long before a shot was fired, Egypt's revolution's catalyst was an Islamic fundamentalist group known as the Muslim Brotherhood. This group has been instrumental in working AGAINST democracy in almost every region it has become involved in (more on the Muslim Brotherhood will be published today in this blog). In fact, in an interview in 2008, President Mubarak was highly concerned about the Brotherhood, and  in an interview with a French foreign policy magazine, Mubarak stated that the MB’s growing influence is a problem that the government is taking very seriously and added, “religion is one of the most important components of our society and culture but there are some groups that employ it as a means to develop their subversive ideas.”  Mubarak went on to accuse the MB of exploiting internal crises, such as poverty and unemployment so as to put pressure on the regime and introduce the group as an alternative to the ruling party. “These groups are attempting to invest in the hardships that are hitting the country to serve their own interest,” he said.

How prophetic. Only 3 years later the Egyptian government is in tatters with the Muslim Brotherhood using the crisis to propel themselves to power.To put this in perspective between the two revolutions, it would the equivalent of the colonial Americans dissolving the Continental Congress, tearing up the individual state Constitutions, and then marching in the street against the king and demanding the Puritans run everything. 

Ridiculous isn't it? 

If you want a more accurate comparison of the event in Egypt to another revolution, all you have to do is look at the Iranian revolution in 1981 to see what is going to happen. I know, though, that the media people don't like to compare the two, saying they are nothing alike.

Ok. I'll play that game. I'll even compare it to another revolution about the time of the American Revolution of 1776. In fact, its very close to that.

The French revolution, where they beheaded a king, stormed the Bastille and let the fanatics run things. The result of that 'democratic' movement?

The continent was plunged into war for 50 years and spawned the bloodiest period of human history up to that point.

Let's hope that doesn't happen again.

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