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Cheers - AE

Sunday, 6 February 2011

We didn't know...

... and we're still not being told. Thanks to a link from an anonymous commenter on my brief blog yesterday about the anti-government protests in Egypt and elsewhere I have now seen what we've not been shown (more videos here). I rarely do content warnings - in fact I can only recall doing so once for a clip where a repeatedly tasered aboriginal man spent several minutes screaming - but these certainly warrant it. What they contain is nothing less than attempted, if not outright, murder of protestors, allegedly by government forces.

Watch for the fire engine at about 0:18.

And the green van, possibly a police vehicle, at 0:40

And the long white vehicle at about 0:26

Now I'm sure that if that sort of treatment was meted out to Egyptian people regularly we'd have heard and it probably wouldn't be the kind of place people go on honeymoon, but the fact that it's happening even as an extreme reaction to the pressure on Mubarak's regime is an indication both of the utter contempt that their government has for ordinary Egyptians and the seething anger and unstoppable rage that has long been bottled up among them, and which has now been released. The Egyptians are mad as hell, and I had no idea. We didn't know, we weren't told.

And perhaps this is why we don't see change in the west and why we end up bitching that one party is much like another, and that they're all a bunch of bastards. We libertarian leaning types go further and call them authoritarian and untrustworthy, seeing almost everything they do as a reason for severely limiting the power of government over the law abiding individual. We despair that others can't see or won't look at the various examples of 'mission creep' legislation with laudable aims but the potential to be turned against the citizens its supposed to benefit, or even the cases where governments have in fact done precisely that. We rage that police arrest teenagers for committing photography in a public place despite the fact that the police have been repeatedly warned that this is not an offence. We rage that so many politicians are still wanton with our money except, it appears, when it comes to using it for their personal gain. We rage and rage and nothing changes, and we wonder why. Even when an election consists of an unpopular government meeting an inept opposition, and everybody knows that the government will probably change but in real life it won't feel like it, and we wonder why millions voted for the same cretins, venal nest-featherers, placemen, career politicos, liars, philanderers, cheats and assorted slime in the knowledge that the new lot would be much the same as the old lot (or perhaps the delusion that they wouldn't be). Why, for Christ's sake? WHY?

Perhaps the answer is in Egypt: quite simply, we're not yet being shot at and mercilessly run over when we complain, and until the day comes that we are most of us are happy to settle for more of the low grade contempt and mistreatment that we're used to. The Egyptians themselves tolerated what they had to put up with for longer than I've been alive - it took decades before they finally said 'Enough!'

I'm depressing myself here but I wonder if this inclination to tolerate things, to put up with our lot even when some bastard is deliberately making it worse, is some kind of human condition. We English with our 'Mustn't grumble' culture are our own worst enemies but looking at the news now it seems like we're anything but unique. How long did the Russians put up with the Tsars, and then how long did they put up with Communist rule? How long are the North Koreans going to put up with their Favourable Adjective Leader's misrule? Is it in our nature to leave things so long that they get so bad? Is the only shortcut ruinous war, either victorious as with the American colonists almost 230 years ago or with catastrophic defeat as with the Axis powers in WWII, and in either case with the mistakes of the past eventually repeated anyway? Is it really that or a few generations of things getting worse and worse until finally one or two lucky generations break the pattern for a while before the whole shitty cycle starts all over again?

To be blunt, can we look at Egypt and the other nations where the people have finally had it up to here with the leaders, and can we decide that at the next opportunity we'll reverse our own gradual slide toward the same situation? You know, before it reaches the bloodshed and violence that our media seem less than keen on showing us. Before our great-grandchildren are being rammed off the slidewalks by police hovervans, and while those of us alive today can feel the benefit of it. Because if we can't look and learn from this we really are in trouble. We didn't know and we weren't told, but we bloody well know now and so we're running out of excuses.
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