Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tunisia, Egypt, and Why We Need to Care About More than Religion

For the first time that I can remember in a good long time, freedom seems to be triumphing over tyranny.

Right now, in Tunisia, Egypt, and soon to be Yemen and Jordan, revolutionaries have taken to the streets to overthrow their corrupt, authoritarian governments. And unlike revolutions of the past in the Arab world, these are not Islamic of nature, but liberally based. While their are religious groups involved, these uprisings are being led by labor unions and students, not the elites.

Just watch this video, released today, and try not to feel some kind of emotion:

And all through this, our government, the leaders of what is supposedly the most freedom-loving and tyranny-hating of all, refuses to fully support these people. In his speech on the topic yesterday, President Obama refused to fully codemn Mubarak's regime, pleading rightly for peaceful protests but insisting that the dictator be a part of the peace process. As if 30 years of draconian law and oppression wasn't enough. Though, not exactly surprising given who the Secretary of Defense is.

It's often been said that organizing atheists is like herding cats, and frankly it's true. About the only thing we can ever agree on is the ridiculousness of religion, and even then we don't necessarily see it the same way. It's our ultimate intellectual strength, as we're not mindless zombies, but again, it largely prevents us from presenting a united front. However, on issues like this, we NEED to come together: freedom is, I believe, a basic human right, and as freethinkers, people who seek to free the mind from indoctination, we need to extend that desire to the body as well. Political freedom is just as important as mental freedom.

I would highly urge all of you to keep up to date on the situations in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere. Follow @on Twitter, he's a Democracy Now! reporter who's actually on the ground in Egypt, and is probably the best primary source out there. His story on the situation so far can be found here. Make sure to watch Democracy Now! itself every day, as well as checking out sites like Daily Kos and pretty much all other independent progressive media. I would particularly recommend the podcast Citizen Radio, hosted by the wonderful Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny. If you like what they do, consider becoming a member. They do great work, and could use the dough. They're totally independent, no corporate paychecks or anything of the like, so consider it please.

Til later.


1 comment:

  1. I would like to point out that most of these countries were assets in the Cold War and since it already ended, it is inevitable that these assets will collapse. The uprising reminds me of when the Filipino people overthrew the Marcos regime by the "People Power" movement after 25 years under martial law.