Islamic terrorism is dead. Although the body still seemed strong, in its prime really, an insidious cancer set in on June 4th 2009, when the newly elected President, the grandson of a Muslim, went to Cairo and spoke to an enthusiastic, youthful crowd about freedom. About America not as empire — he flat out denied that — but as a youthful nation with something, perhaps only one or two things, to give the world, even an ancient nation like Egypt. Here's that speech.
What we have to give, he said, is freedom and equality. And he said again what the white slave-holding founders said. All men are created equal. A vegetable peddler in Tunisia, a beaten wife in Afghamastan, a black man in Chicago, a modern Pharoah in his coterie of smart billionairres.
Listen to the speech again. Listen to the enthusiasm. And if you think me idolatrous, contemplate this fact. Mubarak did not attend Obama’s speech. He sent his brother. He said he was sick.
Indeed he was. For the organ that the sickness that has killed Islamic terrorism first strikes is the dictators (let’s start calling the VP Retraction Biden). But they are not the terrorists, you may say; they stabalize the region and help us catch terrorists, they help us transport them to locales more conveient to information extraction.
That “help” I would argue has been like the chemotherapy that kills. Mubarek oppressed his people. He impriosned, killed, and tirtured his opposition. This solidifies and motivates the survivors. A dictator also steals from the people or, only slightly less benignly, allows his lackeys to steal – through bribes, privatization, one-bid bidding, and a variety of other creative methods that may look, to those who don’t want to see, like stabalizing forces.
Mohammaed Atta was an unemployed Egyptian engineer. By all accounts, he was highly intelligent. In a free country he might have run for office, run some wacky Mosque, developed apartment complexes, or who knows become an avante guard writer denouncing the west to his heart’s content.
Most of the other 9-11 operatives were from that other dictatorship, Saudi Arabia. Not long ago, the one phone company was about to go under because the plethora of princes weren’t paying their bills and there was nothing that could be done to make them pay their bills.
That organ of oppression will shut down soon. And it may be destabilizing; certainly it will be. The price of oil may even go up, more. But now is the time for our values to stand above our fears and our needs. That’s what the black grandson of a Muslim standing before the gathered youth of Cairo said, by his very existance. And with his words he said we will, we can, act according to our values. Yes.
Did you see the banner in the crowd on Tahirir square? Yes we can, too.
If they can risk their lives for freedom we can do what we can to be free of fear. For in truth, the oppression that breeds terrorism has been on life support for sometime. Oh it can spruce itself up for the cameras. Dump a can of shoe polish on its head and have the blood-stained white robes washed again by a hunded virgins, but it’s been lying in a hospital bed with an IV in its arm, and that IV bottle has held and steadily dripped American dollars.
We should be flooding the capitol crying shame: no money for bridges and school lunches, yet money for despots and their secret police? No money for body armor at the start of the Iraq war, but 1.3 billion a year for Mubarek?
Shame, and a stain on our values. But they survive, and because they do Islamic terrorism is dead. Sure, there will be pockets of psychotics for some time. There will be visionless Muslim leaders who mine the old lode of Anti-American paranoia and hatred. It was such a rich vein once and as long as Israel keeps killing with American helicopters there’s hope. And there will be visionless American leaders desperately digging in dangerous mines of American paranoia and hatred.
But it’s just not going to work anymore. We’ve seen those faces; we’ve cheered for them and them with them. Some of us even prayed with them. Their outrage and joy is a wind that’s blown across the airwaves to fan the flames of our own love of freedom, equality and justice. Those faces, those cries, the jubilation should heal American’s fear.
Islamic terrorism is dead. We were brave to elect a largely untested Senator from Illinois. And the young people who are his strongest supporters should stand with the youth of Egypt and celebrate. The realization of a vision. A hunger for freedom combined with sustained non-violent action must always win out in the end. Putting our values before stability, comfort and profit will always put us on the side of the winners.
A CNN Opinion piece says “The Obama administration's response to the Egypt revolution has been, from beginning to end, indecisive and incoherent, leading one to wonder who really minds the shop at the White House at times of crisis.”
We tend to wonder that about black leaders. Which president said changing america's course is like turning an aircraft carrier? There are no sharp turns. We’re a huge slow-moving giant with clay feet dug deep in imperialistic wars. I think Obama is trying to balance powerful entrenched forces. We may have had more influence on the outcome than we can know. A Bush in the Whitehouse gives the army the red light and Mubarek doesn't leave. Maybe the courage of the masses would have trumped that but I for one am relieved that Obama is there. Like Lincoln, he's a realist and a politician, while at the same time holding to values and ideals. And maybe even some vision.