What are Conservative Americans to make of the late-breaking Middle Eastern revolutions, particularly in the name of freedom?
Tunisia's government recently collapsed and ousted the long-time dictator, Ben Ali. This week, Egypt experienced massive upheaval, with riots and the unplugging of the Internet. President Mubarak, has flexed his muscles and is painted as a real tyrant. Other Middle East countries are growing increasingly restless, with confrontations between governments and citizens, in Iran, Albania, and Jordan. Sorting out the political landscapes can be exceedingly confusing, as I point out in my Leftist Logic: Overthrow Thyself story.
The news graphically show citizens fed-up with the authoritarian one-party control by current and former rulers. “Freedom for the people” is the reported rallying cry of tens of thousands of protesters. Hmmmm? Really?
As a press guy, I've seen the tech media increasingly critical of the Internet shutdowns in Iran and Egypt. Interestingly, Obama and the Liberals have been pushing implementation of an “Internet kill switch” and “network neutrality”, in the United States, for quite some time. Have you passed through the worm hole yet?
According to Wikipedia, Tunisia is 98% Muslim, while Egypt weighs in between 80% and 90%. That source also notes that fully 98% of Iran is of the Islamic faith.
I have to scratch my head when boiling it all down, considering my American concept of “freedom”.
Clown Proofing Free Speech clearly outlines my thoughts on one aspect of the contrast between Islam and American culture. We've seen time and again, how Muslims expect everyone in the Universe to refrain from criticizing Allah, Muhammad, Islam in general, or the Koran. The penalties are harsh, including death, and are apparently fully justified according to their beliefs. There's no discussion, opposing opinions, or dissent on that and other matters. Muslims in the United States, as expected, have remained almost completely silent on these issues.
Naturally, dictators try to pull the same game. A malevolent ruler has little patience for questions about how he runs the government. He continually seeks to efficiently control information flow, so as to easily convince the masses of his absolute benevolence. He definitely doesn't want the word going to outsiders about his nefarious and corrupt acts on his own people. That's state business, you know. Lastly, it would never do to have all those pesky journalists and rogue bloggers filing their opinions and on-the-ground reports for the rest of the World to see.
It's the same situation with the Internet. Even worse, being connected allows two-way discussions. People can share their current and local experience, while getting feedback and information from outsiders. Seeds of sedition...I say. No, actually, dictators say that.
So, does shutting down Internet access and free speech, benefit dictators, Muslims or both?
You be the judge.
Traditional American freedoms certainly exist in a starkly contrasting, alternative universe.
Rob Reilly is a consultant, writer and commentator. His practice provides writing and coaching services for top professionals who want to shoot their communications up to the next level. He is a strong Conservative and regularly commits those principles to actions and through the written word. His political articles have appeared in All Right Magazine and the Orlando Political Press. His tech stuff can be found all over the Web and in print. Contact Rob at [email protected].