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Brooke is studying the French Revolution this month.  I told her that Charlotte Corday and the death of Marat would make a pretty good essay topic.  Then I realized that the guy was essentially a blogger who was murdered in his bathtub.  Ok, he was a nasty blogger who let things get out of control. He was more like Glenn Beck. Then I get all philosophical about the ethics of committing crimes to prevent even bigger ones, like Dietrich Bonhofer did during WWII, and she gets that “Ok, I’m bored now” look on her face.   Uh, nevermind.  Start at the beginning, go all the way to the end and, then, stop.

The French were pissed off over bread.  The Romans at least got that right.  Never keep the rabble hungry for bread.  But I digress.  Anyway, the roots of the French Revolution had something to do with a really bad financial collapse.  The tax system was a mess with the lower classes bearing the burden and the aristocracy getting away with murder.  There were some bad harvests.  The king was inept.  Not necessarily a bad man.  He just felt entitled.  Oh, sure, there had to be reform but it couldn’t go too far.  He was the king after all and he had the last word.

The Bastille fell in July 1789.  There was rioting on and off throughout the summer.  But the rabble definitely wasn’t going away.  It wasn’t until one night in October 1789 that a mob of women got to Versailles and the royals scrambled from bedroom to bedroom in a panic.  The monarchs left the palace and after a couple of years of factional fighting, The Terror began in earnest.

The Terror.  What a waste.  Thousands of lives lost, rivers red with blood.  Fear, chaos, instability.  It makes you wonder why any king would let that kind of pressure build up over 4 months to result in the country essentially eating its own for several years afterwards.

I saw Mubarek’s face on the frontpage of the NYTimes site, a face only a mother could love and a poster child for Grecian Formula and wondered, what the hell is he thinking?  He’s 82 years old for god’s sakes.  As one commenter said, it’s the ego of a man pampered by 30 years of power who thinks that only he can stabilize Egypt and the middle east.  In fact, he’s doing quite the opposite.  The people of Egypt want him gone.  A week ago, Mubarek stepping down might have been enough to turn the boiling pot down to a simmer, buying the region enough time to put together an interim government.  Now, it looks like all Hell is about to break loose.

But Mubarek must have the last word and he’s not going.

I’ve read that the protestors are starting to move on the presidential palace.

Those kinds of things never end well.

23 Responses

  1. Was watching Jim Leher tonight and that toadie Stephen Hadley was on talking about how it would be so bad if elections were to be held in 60 days and let’s give Mubarak until Sept. Mark my words, if elections were to be held there would be no one voice shouting down the others. In fact, no one voice from one political spectrum controls the protestors voices. If, however, the U.S. and others play this milque toast foreign policy dance, thinking that In Sept. Things will be rosier, quite the opposite will be true. You will get the one voice, honed over months of stalemate, who the people will view as a savior to usurp the current despot…

    I personally think that the Egyptian people need to have elections soon, so that religious and secular voices are heard and proportional representation is allowed to take root. They are not children and are more than up to making it happen. The question is what will our own short-sighted petty dictator do going forward?

  2. When the Islamists get control of Egypt then what?

    • All the more reason to get rid of Mubarak now while the various factions are working together. Because if things continue to worsen with Mubarak in place, sooner or later people will turn to *fun-da-ment-al-ism*.
      Please, let’s call it what it is. That way, we can recognize all religious flavors of the phenomenon. Here, they would be Christian fundamentalist, not christianists.
      Call things what they are. Islamists is not a word and has no meaning.

    • What if the batshit crazy, Christian fundamentalist wing of the GOP takes power next election cycle? Should we do away with elections for fear of it?

      All we can do is hope that the current power behind the protests (young, educated people; labor unions; etc.) can manage to turn this into political organization. Of course, the longer the trouble festers the more likely it is go turn violent and that gives the edge to radical groups. And repression is more likely to push people to fundamentalism than self-determination, so sticking with Mubarak as a hedge against Islamic fundamentalism is likely to backfire over the long term anyhow.

      • apples and oranges, no apples and carrots….
        We have a totally different situation here in the US and the Fundamentalists can’t nor have they ever tried, to seize power and become part of/ or control of our government.

  3. There is no good way out for this. Both ways lose.

  4. and your right i dont this will end well either RD
    nope and this time it most likey wont either its only a matter of time before the army steps in

  5. Good article, RD. I also doubt it will end well. We’ve been watching “Fall of Eagles, about the Hohenzollerns, the Hapsburgs, and the Romanovs. It started out with Victoria’s children marrying into these different royal houses and it ended up with forced abdications and either death (Romanovs) or flight (the German and Austrian).

    It’s been a great series as a corollary to what’s happening in the middle east.

  6. I have seen that played with Ceausescu in 1989 last.
    He’ll go for sure now.
    tabloids on that and Bloomberg’s big mouth

    • I remember reading that when Obama went to Cairo for his earth shattering speech no one from the Egyptian government greeted him at the airport .
      Now I read Obama had taken 10 members of the Islamic brotherhood, knowing full well Egypt’s stand on that group, to sit behind him as he spoke.
      Is it possible that he and his people are this cluless and smug?

      • Obama supports the right of Muslim women to wear the Hijab.

        In his speech at Versailles, Sarkozy denounced the burqa, the all-enveloping garment worn by a tiny minority of Muslim women as “not welcome on French territory.” Obama’s speech in Cairo took a different tack. His concern was not the hijab — the Muslim woman’s head covering — so much as a woman’s right to wear it if she so chose. Western countries, Obama said, cannot dictate the dress of Muslim women. “We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.”

        Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1908306,00.html#ixzz1Dfc5EEoa

        Why is it that Obama is so extra supportive of Muslim fundamentalism? Is the right of Muslim women to wear the Hijab really the best he could do?

        I was in a doctors office the other day when a man and woman came in. He was black, I have no idea if she was or not, she was wearing the equivalent of a burqa. Her face was completely covered and she had her glasses on over the covering that was over her face. What is it? Are men so weak that women have to be completely covered so as not to tempt them or to challenge their superiority as human beings?
        Her husband/brother/father or whatever he was to her, spent the next 10 minutes staring at my chest and ignoring her, even refusing to sit by her. It was a bizarre few moments of my life.
        There are many Muslim women in the Wilkes Barre area, I am friends with some of them, but this was the first time I have seen one with her face completely covered. It made it almost impossible to strike up a conversation, which I would have liked to have done to stop her male companion from starting at me like I was some inanimate object or TV screen.

        BTW, Mubarak has stepped down. The military is now in charge. It will be interesting, to say the least, to see what happens now. I hope this means better lives for women, not worse.

        • Obama has been supportive of Christian fundamentalism too.

        • Um, hijab is not fundamentalist. Muslim women who wear hijab are not compelled to wear it and some of them go through phases. there are many different reasons why they wear it. Most of them are none of our business. But it’s certainly no worse than a Jewish woman covering her hair or a Mennonite or even a catholic woman who had to wear a lace doily on their heads when they went to church. (I wore one of those when I was a kid). When I lived in Pittsburgh in the way back, there were a lot of older women of eastern European stock who wore head scarves as part of their “uniform”.
          A burqa or a chador (not the same thing, btw) is quite a different animal. Those things are generally forced on women by the religious nut cases in their countries. They are not a sign of modesty, which the Koran expects from both sexes. No, burqas and the like are definitely a gender related thing. They are to keep women submissive and usually go hand in hand with second class status.
          Actually, I have no problem with the French banning burqas and other body swaddling robes for women. French women are trying to achieve full equality and they don’t need visible throwbacks to a medieval and patriarchal (and this is a rare occasion when I use that word) culture. If Muslim women in France are forced into burqas, that demeans all women in France. It’s sort of like segregation. You can’t have separate and equal. So, the burqa has to go. The country belongs to the French. They can make their own rules. It’s up to the immigrant population to adapt, not adjust the thermostat to suit their unegalitarian mindset. If religious fundamentalists don’t like it and if some women “like” to wear those things and don’t mind being treated like cattle or chattel, they are free to live elsewhere.
          I don’t think I’d have a problem with girls wearing hijab in school. Girls around here do it and no one cares. But this is not France and I don’t make the rules there. They may have a very good reason for prohibiting them.
          One last thing, the Amish dress funny and the Hasidic Jews about an hour north of here definitely make their women stick to a strict dress code, including stupid looking wigs topped by pillbox hats. Christian and Jewish fundamentalist sects have very strong gender related dress codes that are compulsory and define womens’ roles as subordinate to mens’. In fact a lot if Christian fundies

          • (damn iPad makes it tricky to edit a WordPress blog).
            As I was saying, there are a lot of American Christian fundamentalist sects that are as nutty as fruitcakes about making sure that women stay subordinate to men and with a definite second class status. And these sects are pretty aggressive about shoving their attitudes on American women. But they don’t wear Burqas. Yeah verily they walk around completely disguised as perfectly normal looking individuals. You would never even know these neanderthals were planning to drag women back to the 14th century until they get elected.
            So, please, give up on the “Egyptian Muslim women are going to be forced into burqas!” crap. I don’t believe that for one second and I don’t want that shit clogging up my comment threads.
            Turn off the Fox, teresa. You’ve pushed my buttons a lot lately and I am really losing patience with you.

          • Excellent comment RD!

            … there are many different reasons why they wear it. Most of them are none of our business.

            That’s exactly how I see it: it’s none of our business! And while many fret about Muslim women covering their hair, you (I) never hear anyone fret about married Jewish women (having to) do the same. Or nuns for that matter! (Btw, I wonder if Jewish women are allowed to wear wigs made from their own hair?)

            I would much rather that we, before we point at others, took a critical look at our own, western, culture/dress code. Like, why has women in so many instances been reduced to “red carpet moment”s? Reduced to what they wear. And, how did trains, towering high heels, and body clinging dresses – which to me all contribute to reduce women’s freedom of moving – become a requisite when dressing up?

            Talking about fashion, it’s still a mystery to me why Carolyn Bessette’s choice of wedding dress didn’t set a new standard for how women wanted to present themselves on their wedding day: as modern, free, self-relient, self-confident, professionel women. Instead the timid, gift wrapped macaroon look prevailed. Now with bare shoulders as a must, though.

  7. The protesters are now in front of the Presidential Palace in Heliopolis and have surrounded the state TV station. So Communique #2 seems to have had little effect. Live from Cairo #19. And the demonstrations in Tahrir Square are larger than ever.

  8. This is not good. It’s become fairly clear that the military’s not going to intervene on Mubaraks behalf, which is good. Assassination’s not a good outcome, either. It’s time for some senior officers to hustle Mub onto a chopper and out of the country.

  9. Mubarak is gone.

  10. Mubarak has fled. He has ceded all power to the military.


  11. The people win! May it spread around the globe.

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