I’ve been watching and following the revolution in Egypt with rapt attention for the past couple weeks. I followed the battle of Tahrir Square with dread in my stomach and watched yesterday in awe as the people of Egypt celebrated their overthrow of Mubarak.
It’s been amazing.
Not only was it amazing to see a peaceful pro-democracy revolution in the biggest nation in the Arab world, but it also was amazing to feel so close to it. I felt close to the action by reading Andy Carvin’s curated Twitter feed of the revolution, reading information about the situation on the ground immediately, hours before CNN and the rest caught up. And I was even able to have short twitter conversations with people on the ground during the battle to ask some (probably naive) questions. While some people are giving undue credit to Twitter and Facebook for the success of the revolution (all the credit goes to the people of Egypt), the new tools of social media let the world into what happened.
Now, of course, is the hard part for Egypt. The military has taken over. People on the ground consider this a good thing because they trust the military to heed their words and deeds and guide the nation to prompt, free, and fair elections that will result in a democratic civil society. In contrast, some on the American right fear that what happened yesterday was simply a military coup. For now, I’m throwing my lot and hope in with the Egyptian people, not with the naysayers like Drudge.
Overall, it’s very interesting so see how the American right is reacting to this:
- In 2003, right-wing pundits said that democracy was such a universal good that we shouldn’t consider any risks involved in bringing it to Iraq by force.
- In 2011, right-wing pundits say that an organic movement towards democracy in Egypt should be feared because the risks are the only thing to consider important.
I definitely recognize that there are risks to American interests in what’s happening, that a movement towards freedom and democracy can be subverted and distorted. However, having the people of Egypt on their own express yearning for values that we share is a wonderful thing, and I think it’s worth the risk. And it’s miles better than the bloody and expensive force we used to try to impose those same values.
So, congratulations, Egypt. You followed the wave started in Tunisia, and I’m excited to see what happens next, even though we don’t know what the aftermath will be.
I have hope.