How long must we endure?
It is difficult to take events in Egypt seriously right now. It has become normal to see legal and judicial travesties on a daily basis; a news story about two people being arrested for speaking English while on the subway, another story about a man getting arrested, or brought by a mob to a police station, for writing the frequency of satellite channels on a bathroom wall, as though it were some sort of political pornography. We are almost used to the frequent violations of the basic legal rights of anybody suspected of homosexuality or atheism, as though those were crimes when even Egypt’s mockery of a legal system has not yet found the time to officially criminalize them. The courts, initially resorted to by human rights activists, have about as much blood on their hands now as the police force does. The army has become, first covertly, but now quite overtly, an armed political juggernaut. The notion that might is right has become the only law of the land, and people have, by example, learned no lesson but that. There is a corresponding lack of civility, a corresponding drop in the very expectation of legality or of justice. Anybody in Egypt who wants something now has been made to understand that there are only two paths to follow; you must be powerful, or you must be close to power. All independent voices have been silenced in the media, and barely one or two relatively decent voices have survived so far, but only by leveling their criticism at the system at large, and not directing any of their attacks on the head, as though the regime were a headless chicken whose body is mindlessly causing damage before it is finally spent and reduced to stillness. The revolutionaries, if they can be called that, are the only ones that have, as the phrase goes, and as they called for the military to do; gone back to their barracks, while some of their most iconic figures (whether or not they merit that adjective) have been jailed, with their friends and their families left despondent and angry, and, I suspect, inevitably resentful of the masses that called their loved ones heroic and then promptly forgot about them and went back to watching poorly written, poorly acted, and meaningless soap operas. The people have, in turn, lost faith in the revolution, then distanced themselves from it, referred to the faithful as ‘revolutionaries’ as though they were a cast apart, and then blamed them for the apparent failure of the revolution, then hated them for raising their hopes for a better Egypt, and then blamed them again, in fact – even resented them – for the overwhelming futility that they now feel, for daring to fashion wings, for being foolish enough to bind them with wax, and for flying too high. The people of Egypt, so hopeful, so wonderfully optimistic, so heart-achingly kindred in the days when the revolution flourished, have found their hopes crushed, their optimism assailed on all side, their newly found sense of kinship shattered by betrayals and paranoia, and finally, have turned against their heroes; at best, they ignore them, leave them languishing in the jails of the dictatorship, and at worst, they consider them collaborators in a giant conspiracy which one day, they think, had even them fooled. (more…)