Why Throwing Tomatoes at Hillary Clinton is Good (not why you think)

TomatoSecretary of State Clinton paid a visit to Egypt the other day and was greeted by protestors some of whom threw tomatoes and shoes at her caravan as she drove past. At issue was the United States supposed support for the Muslim Brotherhood during the recent Egyptian elections.

I’ve noticed that Clinton seems to engender a lot of anger, maybe you’ve noticed the same thing?

The main group protesting Clinton’s visit were minority Egyptians including Christians who make up about 1% of the population. They are justifiably concerned that the Muslim Brotherhood might try to impose religious Sharia Law on them after years of relative secularism under the previous regime.

Hosni Mubarak and his predecessor Anwar Sadat ruled Egypt through the military and brutally suppressing dissidents but largely, after the peace treaty of 1979 ended the Isreal-Egypt war, were allies of the United States and allowed religious freedom although the judicial system includes a number of Sharia elements.

I’m a little divergent from my main topic here but now I’ll get to the point. During previous regimes if a protestor was to throw tomatoes or shoes at one of the dictatorial officials there was every chance they would be arrested, tortured, and even murdered while in prison. That’s what dictators do when they have absolute power.

The fact that dissidents were allowed to protest, not even completely peacefully, without facing arrest and incarceration is a huge step in the right direction. Any freedom loving government not only must tolerate protest and voices against the current regime but they must embrace them! This is the essence of free society and the heart of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

The First Amendment, among other things, guarantees that people can speak out against the government without fear of arrest (Freedom of Speech) and can assemble peacefully to protest said government without fear of prosecution (Right to Peaceably Assemble). That we see these principles in Egypt is a great sign although it certainly doesn’t guarantee anything in the future.

A representative republic is a messy form of government where people are allowed, I would say encouraged, to protest peacefully and speak out against the current government without resorting to violence. This ability means that voices of change are not suppressed, that real ideas enter the mix, and that people are not eventually incited to violent rebellion because they are legally prevented from expressing said ideas.

So, I say to the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsy, well done. Good start. Keep it up! The Arab world is watching and you have the opportunity to lead it away from its current horrific violence and terrorist nature. Don’t be afraid of dissent. Embrace it! You can change the Arab world from one of violence and hate to one where people can go about their business, raise a family, hold a job, go to the beach, and otherwise lead their lives without trying to kill one another and their perceived enemies.

I would say to Americans as well, dissent is good. Disagree with President Obama, fine. Disagree with President Bush during a time of war or any other time, tell us about it. Anyone who says, “America, love it or leave it” doesn’t understand America.

I suggest, don’t throw things, don’t shout down opposition, express your grievances like a civilized adult, show respect for elected officials, but never stop disagreeing.

Tell me what you think in the comments!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
New Release: The Hammer of Fire

Egyptian Elections

Egyptian ElectionThere are some interesting happenings in Egypt with the latest elections and I think it’s critically important to the United States and the world how we interpret and react to events.

I’ll take a quick look historical events so as to provide perspective but it would be a good idea to look at a few wiki articles including Arab Spring, the Shah of Iran, and Muslim Brotherhood.

The incredibly important dividing line is the emergence of Arab nations seeking freedom. Some people think that nations such as Egypt are turning the corner from oppressive, authoritarian rule towards representative republics. Others think they are simply swapping totalitarian regimes for theocracy of an even more oppressive nature and ones more likely to act with terror tactics towards the western world.

I think it’s a vitally important issue because the last time something like this happened the results were catastrophic for the Arab world and unpleasant for the western, democratic world. The last opportunity of this nature came during the Iranian Revolution of 1979. In that uprising students ousted the Shah of Iran and established a theocratic government in its place. They took U.S. citizens at the embassy hostage and an antagonistic relationship between Iran and the United States continues to this day. Much of the ill-will that Arabs feel towards the western world stems from this relationship although unquestionably the Israel-Palestine situation is a major factor as well.

Since then hundreds of thousands of Arabs have died in terrible violence, oppressive regimes have become worse, children have grown up in an environment where terrorizing your foe was the objective, and Americans and westerners have learned to view Muslims as terrorists and with good reason.

This is not a winning environment for anyone.

I think that refusing to recognize the Muslim Brotherhood’s election leads us down the same path we’ve already traveled. I agree that the Muslim Brotherhood holds dangerous religious tenants and that theocracy are a very bad form of government. That being said if we had supported Mubarak until the end, if we refuse to deal with Egypt, if we continue to fight then the situation can only escalate into worse violence. More people will die. Americans will be killed by terrorists, Arabs will be killed by Arabs and Westerners. Children in Arab countries will grow up dreaming not of owning a house but of strapping bombs to themselves so they can kill other people they don’t even know.

We must embrace any popular revolution that overthrows a dictator even if the ensuing government isn’t to our liking. Could it possibly have turned out worse if after the Iranian Revolution President Carter had said, “Well done. You were right. We should never have supported a brutal dictator because he was secular and allowed us access to his oil. We’re sorry. Welcome to the world of nations. We hope you choose freedom, religious freedom, representative government, but it’s your choice. If you need any help just let us know. We’re here.”

I don’t like the Muslim Brotherhood. I’m Jewish by heritage if Atheist by religion. I don’t like Sharia law. I think one of the absolutely most vital things for the world to realize its potential is for women to enjoy all the freedom that men do. I don’t like a lot about the Muslim Brotherhood but I do like that they stood up and threw out a totalitarian regime. Fewer regimes such is this are a good thing.

Let’s not make the same mistake again. Let’s at least make a different one and maybe it will turn out to be not a mistake at all. At least I hope so, for all our sakes.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
New Release: The Hammer of Fire