The role of stuff in Egypt
There are some fallacious notions about people in the Middle East that we can now dismiss in light of all the hijinks that have taken place recently in Egypt.
The first thing we can toss is this hackneyed idea that “They hate us because we’re free.” It’s now apparent they don’t particularly hate us because of our political freedoms. What they do hate is not being free themselves. And living under the control of jerk dictators. The commoners are a tad fed up with these guys who engineer the coup, install themselves as kingpins for life, perpetrate the most ridiculous elections ever—“The Fearless Leader eked out another win today with 91 percent of the vote”—and walk into the national treasury and steal a few briefcases full of cash whenever they’re feeling a little blue. These young Achmed Q. Sixpacks in Egypt just want to have a real vote for their next Fearless Leader, with no relatives of dictators allowed on the ballot.
Not only do they want legitimate elections, they also want some stuff. Again, in this materialist arena, they don’t hate us. They may envy us, more than anything else. What they hate is being poor. Shocker. We western infidels have some really hot shit smart phones with fliptop keyboards that totally rock, and all these discontented young Arabs know it. And they want some cool gizmos of their own, dammit! This poverty bit and living in squalor and not having an iPod just ain’t makin’ it, Fearless Leader, and we’re tired of waiting for your crumbs. We want some stuff! Now! Stuff! Now! And not lame stuff … cool stuff! Cool Stuff now! Cool Stuff now!
Another lesson Mubarak learned the hard way, and it’s a lesson that’s there to be learned by all current dictators—you do not fuck with Facebook, pal! You got that? You just don’t do it. And you mess with Twitter at your peril.
Historians will undoubtedly look back and see that the key moment in this people’s uprising was when Mubarak hassled the Egyptian head of Google. Bad move. After that, the writing was on the ole Facebook Wall. You can imagine Brian Williams over there in Cairo, asking his translator “What’s the Egyptian word for toast?”
But if Bush was sorta wrong about all that, “They hate us because we’re free, and we’re infidels” jazz, he appears to have been sorta right about the irresistible lure of democracy in that region. A lot of these people now seem attracted to the idea, attracted to the point of hitting the streets to get some. WTF, they say, electing guys to run the country can’t be any worse than living under heavy-handed despots whose main mission appears to be the accumulation of tanks, babes and a 10-digit Swiss bank account.