Monday, February 28, 2011

How to feel about Egypt

In response to the Ottawa Citizen "Do you really want revolutionary change you can believe in the Middle East, Mr. Obama?"

First, I don't know anything about Egypt, Islam, or war.

Second, I don't consider the Citizen article trustworthy because contemptuous statements like "He's so desperate" and "as their liberal puppet" are designed to make me feel a certain way, without providing reasons. I'd suggest that the wikipedia article on ElBaradei is far more believable.

Third, I don't accept the claim that revolution is bad, even if it involves the death of thousands of innocent people. Consider the Costa Rican Civil War for example. In any case, I haven't seen convincing evidence that current events in Egypt will reduce the joy value of the universe.

Fourth, even if I were convinced that there was a majority chance that events in Egypt would lead to disaster, I wouldn't agree that the U.S. or Canada should have supported Mubarak. That is after all, the only meaningful question for an average North American, since most of us won't participate any further than our next Federal vote.

Perhaps I misunderstand them, but this Citizen article and the many other arguments that are unhappy about events in Egypt all seem to say that things were better off when Mubarak kept his people quiet. While that may be true for me personally when you define "better off" as "the price of a big mac, etc.", I'm not very interested in it and am personally shocked by the implications.

Based solely on the fact that he was in power for 30 years, I assume that Mubarak was corrupt and was unwanted by many reasonable people.

Based on my understanding of Emergency law in Egypt, I assume that average Egyptians are denied rights that I consider basic and treated in ways that I would resist.

Therefore the argument that we were better off with Mubarak is the argument that Alice, Bob and I live in a maze together, and Alice routinely treats Bob in ways I consider reprehensible, but never in my presence, and every so often I'm asked to modify some switches in the maze to prevent Bob from defending himself from Alice based on the argument that I have never seen Bob outside of Alice's presence and if I don't help Alice suppress Bob, he might one day hurt me.

This, I am not willing to do.

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