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An American's Personal View from Cairo, with Allusions to Black Literature

By       Message Daniel Bruno Sanz     Permalink
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opednews.com Headlined to H4 2/9/11

I noticed the small throngs of young people at 6 October bridge at dusk on
December 26, 2010, as I inched across the Nile after my solo jaunt to the
fabled Egyptian museum.   Nobody was paying any attention to them or to Egypt
as the media was fixated on the protests in Tunisia.   The ocean of stalled
traffic and noxious fumes seemed as vast as the Sahara and contrasted sharply
to the dreamy nether world of ancient emperors Akhenaton and Ramses, and the glorious history of Egyptians long past.  "25 million people in Cairo," the
taxi driver
blurted out.  In the coming days I marvelled that motorists
didn't jump out of their cars and shoot each other in road rage.  Cairo is
an utterly unliveable city.  In all my travels I had never seen
such anarchy, congestion, lack of planning and maladroit city
government, and this before the insurrection.

   I felt smothered by
the dust and over the coming weeks the breathless financial asphyxiation of
every Egyptian I encountered
reminded me of a drowning man.  I imbibed the
grandeur of the Pyramids of Giza and visited Memphis before I resolved to
flee the Hades of
Cairo and head to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, before
returning once again to Cairo after a stint in Sharm el-Sheik and my
risible
expulsion back to Egypt after a ludicrous six-hour interrogation
by Israeli border guards filled with astringent paranoia .  Indeed,
all
the Egyptians address me in Arabic as my African-American
heritage spawns illusions that I am their Native Son and likely source
of
sympathy along with badly needed cash.   The dearth of
economic opportunity warps personalities and makes human beings
disingenuous and sleazy.   I remarked, and Egyptians I met concurred, that
the only
thing keeping a lid on the situation in Cairo is Islam, which
is omnipresent and reaches the lower depths of the subconscious
of
everybody here.   It's the anti-freeze that keeps boiling hot
water from boiling. The same can be said of the country as a whole.
Dour
catechism puts a brake on Egyptians' instincts and urges to
lash out...until now.  For all the feckless hand-wringing and
shibboleths
rolling of the tongues of half-bright talkingheads about the
dangers of the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic influence, it is Islam
that
greases the wheels of the untenable status-quo they yearn for.   
I also suspect that Egyptian males feel stifled in this very
conservative
and sexually repressed society.   Women outside of the tourist industry
remain covered in head scarves and dwell in the
shadows.  In Egypt, a man
without a job might as well be a eunuch because he ain't gettin' any.  In the
1930s psychologist Wilhelm Reich
explored the link between sexual denial in
German culture and the rise of Fascism.  Today in Egypt involuntary
asceticism fans the flames of revolution and if the revolution is denied,
Islamic extremism will find fertile ground.


              The Praetorian Guard


   Dapper soon to be ex-president for
life Hosni Mubarak is actually an Air Force general old enough to have gotten
his wings on propeller
aircraft in the wake of World War II, but artful
cosmetic surgery makes him appear to be in his 50s.   He is larger than life
in a dark suite and sunglasses leading troops in to battle on government
murals, MiGs overhead.  To his left are images and reliefs of pharaohs
firing
arrows from bigas.  As a warrior and a survivor he should know
that winners leave the scene on a high note.  Why he wants to hang on
to
power at his age, I don't know, but his intransigence  has given me the
opportunity to watch all kinds of military hardware I haven't seen since I
was a kid at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland.  I feel like bird
watcher: Here comes a column of desert tan M-19 armored personnel carriers
strutting their stuff.  A relic of the Korean War,the M-47 tank , does duty
at the Kasr bridge.    M-48s and a
Soviet T-62 joined the melee yesterday.
 Even a mighty M-1 Abrams, the current main battle tank of the United States
was on hand, and while
at first the mobs were intimidated and ducked for
cover, the soldiers held their fire. Nor did they fire warning shots.  The
NCOs and
enlisted men are ambivalent and the crowds regained their nerve.
The youth beseech the soldiers to join them.  What will pharaoh do now? I
am reminded of the iconic photo of a protestor putting long stemmed
flowers
into the barrels of National Guard rifles at an anti-Vietnam War
demonstration in the 60s.  This afternoon F-16s, gifts from my
country,
screamed at 1000 feet.  What is the point?  Will the Egyptian Air Force drop
bombs on Cairo the way Mayor Goode's police department used helicopters to
bomb and burn s blocks of Philly back in 1985?


                 What is to be Done?

What this revolution needs now is
leadership, personality and a programme beyond ending the reign of Pharaoh
 Mubarak.  Its easy to
unite people around a negative because the myriad
possible outcomes are not in contention now, but will come into relief after
the euphoria of his flight to that toxic waste dump for deposed
despots, Saudi Arabia.  The Egyptian Revolution of 2011 must establish
a democratic,  intellectual and labor leadership and plan for economic
and
political overhaul of the country in consultation with the Egyptian business community.  A new constitution and bill of rights
must be passed and foreign
investment has to increase on a massive scale or unemployment and poverty
will fester under the new democratic
government.  The Egyptian economy has to
produce 600,000 new jobs a year just to keep up with population growth.  No
matter how earnest
the new leadership, eighty million people can not live off
of tourism, carpets and Suez Canal fees.  Egypt is 96% desert; its
competitive
advantage is to be a solar energy superpower that exports
cheap electricity to Europe.  Egyptians learn to speak multiple
foreign
languages with ease and the country has great potential as
a call-centre powerhouse.  This is only the beginning.

      The Revolution Will be Televised


   The Revolution will be
captured on cell phones and uploaded to the BBC.   The Revolution will be on
line, on Youtube and on your mind.
The Revolution will be brought to you in
real time by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez.  The Revolution will not be
parsed by Wolf Blitzer in
the Situation Room or explained by former Secretary
of State Madelyn Halfbright.   The Revolution will be recycled over and over
on the 24 hour news cycle.  The Revolution update you on Twitter and like
you back on Facebook.  The Revolution will be decried by pundits who
are
highly qualified fools.  The Revolution will be misconstrued by
Sunday morning talking-heads and condemned by bombastic demagogues on
Fox News.  The Revolution will speak through Hugo Chavez.  The
Revolution will foil the plans of pathological K Street interest groups that
long
ago hijacked my country's foreign policy.  The Revolution will
lead you to ask why the U.S. government allows a certain client state
to
detain Americans for six months without charge and force them to
sign confessions in a language they don't understand.  The Revolution
will
expose the hypocrisy of power brokers who say violence is not
the answer while escalating violence in Afghanistan.  The Revolution
will
ask why your government spies on you, concocts phony terrorist
plots and touches your junk at the airport. The Revolution will leave
the
Marseille and the 1812 Overture ringing in your ears and Public
Enemy on your iPod.  The Revolution will set you free, brother.  Long
Live
the Revolution in Cairo and beyond!

 

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Daniel Bruno Sanz writes about financial and political affairs. His areas of expertise include currencies, stock markets, Latin America, Japan and Russia. In early 2007, he predicted that Obama would win the Democratic primary when polls showed (more...)
 

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