Happy July 4, Egypt!

While the American media slept, the people of Egypt pulled off the Havel maneuver (mass protests bring down a dictator without firing a shot) for the second time in an amazingly short period. I wonder if anyone in the dinosaur media are embarrassed they ignored this story for days – presumably because there was no appealing ideological storyline, and they’re no longer interested in news for any other reason.

When the Mubarak regime fell, the smartest person I know said “it’s hard to see how the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t wind up in charge.” He was proved right, and quicker than usual even for him. But to my knowledge he never predicted they’d also leave power just as quickly! Good riddance.

Naturally, the administration is once again lining up with the dictators against the community he terrorizes, on grounds that the dictator was elected. Because it turns out a naive belief that democracy alone is all-sufficient to ensure freedom and justice was not, after all, merely the idiosyncratic fixation of the previous administration. In fact, we have been making this mistake consistently for almost a quarter century, since the Berlin Wall fell and we prioritized democracy in Russia and Eastern Europe with no attention to other values like the rule of law, freedom of speech/religion, property rights, etc. We made the same mistake in Iraq and who knows how many other places in between. This is a long term, bipartisan problem; it’s discouraging that we haven’t even begun to learn.

What comes next after this revolution may well end up being worse than what came before. But one could have said the same on July 4, 1776, and that revolution would still have been as just and as wise as this one. The early signs are hopeful – the military spokesman announcing the revolution was flanked by the Coptic pope (that is, I gather, the man’s title) and the head of a Muslim university. Am I romantic for seeing resonances here of that unity in diversity achieved among such contrasting figures as Adams, Jefferson and Franklin?

God bless the people of Egypt. Today, Lord, please forget the wicked pharaoh; remember the good pharaoh who listened to Joseph and sheltered your people when they were in need. Send them another like him!

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