Sunday, February 13, 2011

Egyptian Revolution Song: "The Sound of Freedom"

I can't adequately describe the elation that this bloodless coup has brought.  This revolution has unwritten, right before our eyes, the old Orientalisms--that Arabs require tyrants to lead them, that violence is their fate, that democratic freedoms are not the province of the East.  Watching this through the lenses of Western media has been more than strange, as the epistemological frames were as shaken as the journalists covering it.  The story was not to be tamed.

To see these faces in the streets, for so long under emergency rules--the hope, the humanity, the brightness in the eyes--is to be on the brink of great joy.  Much work is ahead for Egypt, and there are many possibilities for this revolution to be coopted and hijacked, but this was a moment where the ideology of fear and the history of violence suddenly lifted. 

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and Eastern Europe was freed from Soviet occupation, I felt an odd mixture of relief and sadness; though I was happy for those peoples who finally emerged under the shadow of communism, I was also aware of how the story rapidly became one of American triumphalism, that we had won the Cold War.  And while it's obviously easier to be on the side of victors, and while I'm glad that the oppressions of that nightmarish regime had passed, I wondered how the lack of a competing system of social organization might impact the rest of the world.  I suppose I trust the dynamism of dialectic, of competing views.  And as William Stafford once wrote, who will teach the victors [of the horrors of war]?

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