This is not a linguistics post

Whilst I am sat here at the computer, I cannot resist but to comment upon the recent events in Tunisia and Egypt. It is a great shame of hyperbolistic and hysterical modern journalism that, when we are truly confronted with events that merit concepts such as momentous and world-changing, we find that these words have been bleached of all strength by their constant and repeated application to trivia and gossip.

That Tunisians and Egyptians have, in an assured and largely peaceable manner, risen up against two of the many dictators that have been imposed or are supported by the hypocritical West throughout the Islamic world rather magnificently puts the lie to the unspoken agenda that the Arabs and their co-religionists deserve not democracy, or cannot be trusted with with it due to the supposed inherent violence of their religion. Even purported humanists reinforce this racism, such as Richard Dawkins’s repeated talk of an “evil religion” — a phrase no doubt deliberately intended to rile the religious by using their own concept against them, but which also carries the implication that individual adherents are responsible for the norms of their culture.

As the moral cesspit that is Tony Blair took a break from his multi-million dollar sycophancy-and-tea tours to remember his sinecure as a “peace envoy” and lecture us on how Mubarak was immensely courageous and a force for good — Tony Blair! he who so despises dictators that he breaks international law to usurp one! — and watching Robert Gibbs and his masters squirm their way through press conferences, unable to overtly deny the obvious will of Egypt, but unwilling to withdraw support from this corrupt but convenient autocrat, one could not help but confirm that hypocrisy and “our son-of-a-bitch” still form central tenets of the foreign policy of much of the Western world.

All this, I cannot deny, has rather moved me, and though this is just one voice of many I feel impelled to extend my support and gratitude to the people of Egypt and Tunisia, for showing that dignified, peaceful and principled political mass action is not only possible, but that it can change the world.

I could try to justify this post with the thin language comments on journalism and Dawkins above but really, as the title says, this is not a linguistics post. It’s a “Humanity! Fuck yeah!” post, and proud of it.

Bless this:

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  • Graham Brown says:

    A good post. The sad thing is that Huntington-Dawkins syndrome has largely won the day in the interpretation of these events through the constant comparisons to the Iranian revolution – whether CNN and Fox, unsurprisingly, but also BBC – and the speculation about when and how the Islamists will take over this revolution. In fact, in terms of process, there is little comparison to be made here. The Iranian revolution started out as a secular affair, true enough, and was ‘hijacked’ by Khomeini and his cronies, but they were able to do so largely because the Shah hung on for so long and the movement fractured. In contrast, Mubarak went in a matter of days. If we want a comparison, we might look rather closer historically to Indonesia – Western-backed dictator of 30 years felled in a week of mass protests driven by the combination of economic downturn and frustration with corrupt governance. (Also, of course, the US and the West all gave strong plaudits to the brave people of Indonesia as soon as it was clear that the die was cast.) Indonesia; 86% Muslim, yet no doom-laden comparisons were made in those pre-9/11 days.
    In Malaysia, Islamophobic Christian idiots are claiming that this is the start of the re-founding of the caliphate and that an Islamic empire will emerge spanning the Middle East. I’m sure Huntington would have approved.

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