According to Elizabeth Dickinson over at Foreign Policy and referenced as one of the top stories on the Huffington Post, one Julian Assange practically ousted the President of Tunisia himself. Oh sure, there was that whole self-immolation thing that started it. There are the myriad of fathers, sons, brothers, daughters, husbands and mothers risking, and loosing, their lives for a change in government. But we can’t bask in the revolution of a Muslim Arab nation for too long. No. Better to credit that white guy. Via Huff Po:
A cable released by WikiLeaks called Tunisia a “police state” and criticized Ben Ali for being out of touch with the people. This has fueled references to the current protests as a “WikiLeaks Revolution.”
Right. Because the college graduate forced to sell fruit and vegetables illegally until the government stopped him from even doing that was probably all over those fucking Wikileak cables. Gee, it wasn’t until it was uncovered that Tunisia was a “police state” that any well educated Tunisian lawyers had even fathomed it. Corruption? Here? Surely you jest! Never mind the blocked internet sites. Never mind having the same ‘President’ voted in with 80-99% of the vote every single time. Or the obvious censorship and dissapearing of fellow citizens. Why, until those cables everybody was just going about happily, minding their own business.
Certainly it is not possible that organized Arab activism has been on the rise across the Middle East. That it’s getting harder and harder to quell protests or stop news from invading once impenetrable police states. We cannot accept this possibility because this will cast Arabs, the majority of them being Muslims, in the role that Americans simply cannot abide them in: The Freedom Fighter.
Sure, it was kind of okay with Iran. After all, they’re Persian and they don’t even speak Arabic and we fucking hate Iran’s government here in the US. Because, yeah, the Shah and stuff (I mean Holocaust deniers—what was I thinking?). But can you imagine what could happen in the Arab world if citizenry starts rising up and taking down the bullshit ‘Presidents’ and political leaders? Some of whom are only still in power only because US and European interests in the region keep them firmly rooted? Would Arabs devolve into uncontrolled, seething masses of anarchy?
Or perhaps it is the opposite that truly scares the West? The uncontrolled, powerless Arab is the cornerstone of Hollywood, bigotry, and scapegoaters everywhere. But what if Arabs were able to spark a movement that brought new peace to the region? No doubt growing pains would be dangerous, and tremulous times. But what if Democracy, real Democracy started to flourish within the Middle East. Created by Arab Muslims, Christians and Jews, for Arab Muslim, Christians and Jews. Would the West react well? Or would they spin it into another Brown Folk Gone Wild and demand UN Peace keepers in the region. “Tonight at 10 on ABC: Is the unrest in the Middle East hurting our mission in Afghanistan and Iraq?”
Watch the news very carefully int he coming months regarding Tunisia. Keep a critical eye and make sure you get your news sources from Middle Eastern journalists as well as Western. My guess is that the second Arabs begin to really organize and create, negative or dismissive press will begin. Or should the revolution fail, should the PM simply pull a bait and switch, be very wary about who tells you it is all for the best.
Today it’s Tunisia. But waves are rippling across the Maghreb, Mediterranean and Arab Peninsula. Citizenry is watching with baited breath. They are praying for the safety of their brothers and sisters in Tunisia and whispering quietly, over thick black coffee, “Could this happen here?”
And it may. But it won’t happen because some Australian guy leaked a non-secret in a clandestine cable. Julian Assange may be a lot of things to a lot of people—but Mohammed Bouazizi is the only name you really need to know.