If I didn’t talk about Egypt this week, then I’d be ignoring the elephant in the middle of the room. I doubt that the families and friends of those few people who lost their lives in Egypt during the past two weeks of protest would call it a peaceful revolution, nonetheless that’s pretty much what just happened. And it was spearheaded by the younger generation, sparked in large part by several years of social networking conversations and then young Google employee Wael Ghonim’s Facebook page entitled “We are all Khaled Said,” named for a political activist who was killed by the police. Could this peaceful revolution have coalesced and been successful before Facebook or Twitter? That question should give us all pause.
I have to wonder what if. What if we had had Facebook and Twitter in 2003 when Bush invaded Iraq? What if all the people who marched in the streets to prevent and protest that War on Iraq had gone to Washington and stood on the mall? Millions of people, like the people in Tahrir Square. What if we had stood outside Bush’s window and refused to go home for days and weeks until he ceased and desisted? What if we had stood until he stepped down? What if the U.S. military had seen the reason in the argument and had kept the peace, refusing to take sides, until the issue was resolved? Until the war was abandoned. Until Bush was sent scurrying back to Daddy in Texas.
Instead we all stayed home in our comfy houses with our big screen TVs, our cars in the garage, our cell phones blinking, our refrigerators full of food going bad because of the over-abundance. We paid our taxes and were complicit, pacified, silent. We did not risk our lives to make history. We failed to change. In 2003, there was no Facebook to spread the word or organize and there was no Twitter to communicate instantly in real time to everywhere. But even if these tools had been at our disposal, we would still have given up and gone home and let Bush annihilate Iraq to protect the oil interests of his family and the corporations that still gouge us at the pump. The young people of Egypt have shown the world what is possible with the courage and righteous rage that Americans lack. We are spineless. Egypt, you put us to shame.