A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Year of Democracy Fever!

As I finish my 4th month of premature temporary retirement, it behooves me to welcome those who have just recently joined the ranks of the unemployed. These people, like me, had been in their current positions for a long time; in fact, one of them had the same job for 40 years. Unlike me, these people were not unionized; in fact, they were all in management positions. Of course, I’m talking about the small group of Middle East dictators who, until recently, ruled over their kingdoms with total, ruthless control.

The year 2011 will be most likely remembered as the year of democracy fever. The symptoms first appeared in Tunisia with large crowds forming in public places demanding a regime change. These large gatherings of citizens in small areas are the most dramatic form of civil disobedience known to mankind. True, it is disruptive to day-to-day life, but that’s the whole point. The people may stay in place and chant “Power to the people” but their message could be translated as “Meet our demands, or we’ll stay here until you do!” Dictators may consider this as a form of mass blackmail, but honestly who cares about their feelings, especially when they are outnumbered hundreds of thousands to one.

From Tunisia the epidemic spread to Egypt. The world anxiously followed the events – protests, counter-protests from government supporters, and finally violent clashes - in Tahrir Square for several weeks. Finally, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak thought it prudent to escape Cairo and let his Army take over the country. I reckon that Mubarak is busy updating his resume as this is being written.

These massive demonstrations do not always go smoothly, but then no one ever said that revolution was easy. It’s one thing to just show up somewhere with, say, half a million of your closest buds and decide, “Hey let’s bring the Man down!” There is no guarantee that someone else with an opposing point of view won’t also show up — with coincidentally a million or so of their buds — and make their ideas known to the first group. This resulting meeting of the minds can be called anything from a “rumble” to a “donnybrook” to a “kerfuffle” to a “skirmish” to “all out war”.

The world saw this happen in Egypt, and shortly after that in Iran. Ironically, Iran’s leadership voiced support for the anti-Mubarak forces in Egypt at first. Imagine Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s shock when his own people thought it would be a great idea if they too took to the streets. The Iranian government reacted with extreme force and it appears that the latest Iranian revolution has been put down for now. (The protests may still be happening, but no one knows for sure since Iran has revoked permits enabling the foreign press to cover them.) How unfortunate for the people of Iran that they could not convince Ahmadinejad to step down, but it’s early yet. Ahmadinejad may soon be compelled to negotiate for a nice severance package.

This week the rising temperatures of freedom have been felt by the people of Libya. There the clashes have been marked by more violence than was seen in Egypt with casualties numbering in the hundreds. Sniper forces supporting Libya’s 40 year regime of Moammar Gaddafi have even been picking off mourners attending funerals for those killed in previous demonstrations. Now that’s a new low, even for an iron-fisted dictator like Gaddafi!

As this is being written, the soon-to-be-former despot is rumored to be heading to asylum in Venezuela. In any event, I hope Gaddafi uses his new found free time for something useful like, oh, updating his resume. It’s easy to see that his position has been terminated.

Like most epidemics, it’s hard to predict where democracy fever will strike next. There have been mild outbreaks reported in Madison, Wisconsin — where unionized state workers are protesting pending legislation that will take away their right to collective bargaining — and China. China! Imagine! You have to credit the average Chinese willing to take a chance on publicly demonstrating for change as if the massacre at Tiananmen Square never happened. Good luck to them, and watch out for tanks!

Now that I think about it, China is very close to...North Korea, another dictator nirvana that is ripe for a popular uprising. This could get very interesting if the North Koreans are afflicted with the same human rights bug that has struck the people of Egypt and Libya. Kim Jong Il may want to consider updating his resume...soon.

(Thank you for reading. Yo Hosni, Mahmoud, Muammar, and Kim! Tell me, what color is your parachute?)


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