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The cover of The Economist’s February issue features a drawing of a raised, clinched fist. Held inside that defiant fist are pictures of protesting Egyptians. The image is matched with two words I hope to see written someday on a cover story about America. “The Awakening.”
The details of Egypt’s rise from a long, tyrannical slumber sounded so familiar that, while reading the article, I began substituting the word “America” whenever the author wrote the words “Egypt” and “Middle East.” My mixing and matching was, sadly, all too fitting.
The Economist article begins: “The people of the Middle East (insert “America”) have long despaired about the possibility of change. They have felt doomed to live under strong-men who have hoarded their wealth and beaten down dissent.”
Here are a couple more of the greatest hits you can lip-sync’d from The Economist:
“Egypt (“America”) is young, angry and poor.”
“Can the Generals (insert “American corporations” and their paid-off politicians) resist the temptation to smash workers striking for pay….”
By the final paragraph, the article had reinforced something I’ve already known from experience, but hated to admit. It’s okay for journalists to speak of dictatorships and the corrupt, maniacal masters of other countries. But not America. For the most part, we Americans prefer to flush facts and uncomfortable history lessons down the media’s memory hole. The media, in turn, builds us a culture of reality show distractions, artless illusions, fake agendas and seamless public relations campaigns that masquerade as news. We readily point out the lies and deceit of countries around the globe and, while sitting in idle judgment, refuse to see the broken glass littering the floor of our run-down house. “We are free, but they are not,” we smugly tell ourselves.
Once again from The Economist: “Even in Iraq (insert “America”), which has a democratic constitution and elections aplenty, the ruling party has fought against relinquishing power.”
Welcome to America Baby.
So, who do we shake our fists at? If America has a “ruling party,” it’s headquartered on Wall Street and speculative bankers who collapsed the economy just for grins and amassed enough wealth to make Mubarak blush. Unlike Egypt, we found out we have a whole bunch of Mubaraks.
Naked short sellers and hedge fund operators continue to scheme, and no one except Ponzi pro Bernie Madoff went to jail. Why did King Ponzi get the paddy wagon? It’s simple. He stole from America’s rich. Don’t mess with them! As F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “They are not like you and me. They have more money” to hire operatives who destroy truth tellers. It’s a tale told in stark detail by prominent reporters in a book edited by Kristina Borjesson called “Into the Buzzsaw.”
Echoing back to The Economist: “Indeed, right now the authoritarians look more likely to strangle Egypt’s (insert“America’s”) economy than the Islamists do. Under six decades of quasi-military rule, its senior officers (insert “politicians) enjoyed perks and wealth that democracy now threatens to withhold.”
Yikes, who are they talking about again? Are they sure they didn’t get Cairo confused with Washington D.C?
We know and believe horrible things happen in those othercountries. Why? Because they don’t have a free press! They don’t have the rule of law. Those countries have dictators like Mubarak and Gaddafi who, quite literally, get away with murder. Yet, we just cannot believe the same could be true in America where, so far, our dollar dictators walk freely on Wall Street while millions of Americans get kicked out of their homes and thrown out onto Main Street.
How did this happen?
How can we change it?
Without independent, experienced journalists in Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Wisconsin or Washington, D.C., we will never understand how or why events occur. Therefore, they will never end. No context, no perspective, no compassion…no compromises.
The life’s blood of any dictatorship is tightly controlled and manipulated information. Once information cannot be controlled, Katy-bar the door.
Time to wash the sleep from our eyes.