2-2-11 Egypt concerns
It's always refreshing to get a reminder every now and then of how lucky we are to live in America. Egypt is the most populous country in the middle east, and has had the most stable government, ruled by Hosni Mubarak for the past 30 years. Suddenly, apparently out of nowhere, there's hundreds of people on the streets of Cairo, demanding the immediate resignation of Mubarak and all his ministers. The government shut down the internet and most cell service, but thank goodness has shown restraint and hasn't opened fire and mowed people down like at Tianenmen Square in Bejing two decades ago. Mubarak, 82, promised not to run for reelection this fall but that hasn't been good enough for the throng. Now Mubarak supporters are coming in from the desert and battling anti-government forces.
If this can happen in the most stable middle-east country, imagine how fragile the rest are. Only Saudi Arabia seems immune to this type of turmoil, where the Saud monarchy continues to rule with a fist of gold, not iron. Or maybe I should say, an oily fist. The problem in Egypt seens to be the wide gulf between the rich and poor, and a repressive police force. Now we have to worry about Muslim extremists trying to fill the government vacuum there, and a ripple effect on their neighbors.
My wife graduated from Augustana College in 1987 and followed with interest the plight of the Augustana band, which was enjoying the last leg of it's 3-week tour of Egypt when the anti-government violence began last week. After that it was a somewhat harrowing ordeal for the 75 band members and 25 support crew and chaperones to get out of Cairo. Thank God they all made it back safe, including local students from Benson, Belgrade, Willmar and New London.
Here in the U.S. we like to complain and shake our heads in disgust about our government, and the partisan bickering and either inaction or lack of common sense coming out of Washington. But we let our feelings be known at the ballot box, not by shaking our fists in front of T.V. cameras. But I've always said, as long as even the poorest of the poor have enough food in their (ever expanding) stomachs, there will be a lack of demonstrated outrage about anything in this country.