Originally published at Rantings of a Sandmonkey at http://www.sandmonkey.org/2011/12/31/the-joker’s-country/
Many people, after my last post, were wondering if I am depressed. I wasn’t. I felt sad & helpless, but the reason behind my feelings of sadness and helplessness was something I could not pinpoint, until I figured it out two nights ago while watching The Batman Begins Sequel “The Dark Knight”. If this sounds strange to you, bear with me, because as always, there is a reason to my madness.
In the Dark Knight, the Joker’s plan was simple: He believed that modern civilized society, with all of its rules & rights, was nothing but a facade to be tossed aside the moment you apply some pressure on it. Do that, and people will give to their fears, completely ignore their morals, and humanity will show its true ugly face. And at first his plan seemed to be working, but it ultimately failed at the two Ferries test, where he controlled two ferries, one carrying regular law abiding citizens, and one carrying criminals, and both were filled with explosives. He then told both of them that they had until midnight, and only one ferry can survive, and that each had the switch to blow the other up. Terrified people on both ferries immediately went for the blow each other up option, but in the end, faced with the horror of their choice, how pushing this one switch would end countless lives to save their own, neither group could really do it. The Humanity in the hearts of people who lived in Gotham won, and the Joker lost his bet on their souls. Y’all saw the movie, so you know this. What does that have to do with anything? Well, the thing that dawned on me was this: The Joker was not wrong in his theory, he just chose the wrong sample group to conduct his experiment. Had he done this experiment in Egypt, he would’ve won his bet fair & square. Let’s look at the evidence, shall we?
Exhibit 1: The minute the police disappeared, and crime started rising, people were so terrified of possibly getting hurt or robbed, they immediately supported the idea of Military trials for civilians suspected of committing crimes, where they can be sentenced from 1 to 7 years without lawyers in 15 minute trials. There are now 16000 such prisoner, and people don’t care because they believe them all to be thugs or criminals. Why? Because the Army said so. Innocent till proven guilty suddenly was no longer a priority, & the fact that we were having military trials for civilians AFTER a revolution that got started because of the lack of justice is in itself a very bad joke.
Exhibit 2: The mostly angry public opinion at the protesters when they clash with the Police in Mohamed Mahmoud or the army at Egypt Cabinet, due to the instability this causes the country. Never mind that both clashes were provoked by the respective security forces, people were more mad at the Protesters being there, then of the fact that they were getting maimed and killed. After all, those clashes affected the economy.
Exhibit 3 : The complete denial that people have regarding how clean this election is, especially in its second phase and to the fact that the SCAF are implementing policies into laws that affects the generations to come, by ensuring that no actual change or improvement will be there for them. The reason behind this? People not wanting trouble, since they are almost over and done with the elections. I always marveled at those who believe that ” This is good enough” and ” it’s a start.” It’s like they are stating their lack of concern for the future being sabotaged, since all they care about is right now. They even stop following the news since it makes them angry and depressed. Yep.
Congratulations, Ladies and Gentlemen of the silent majority, you are the people the Joker was talking about. At the first sign of trouble, you abandon your ethics, your beliefs, all the rules of civilized behavior, and you support whatever solution that you believe will cause your problems to go away, at any price, literally. The freedoms and dignities of other people, their lives, whatever. You just don’t want any headaches or inconveniences to your plans, even if the soul of your country is at stake. And best of all, you will justify your point of view with a litany of reasons that reveal your prejudices, your fears, your lack of a moral compass. What? Too self-righteous? Too Harsh? Really? After all the evidence? Want more? Fine, let’s look at theFree Maikel Nabil campaign for example, shall we?
The people who champion the Free Maikel Nabil cause cry their lungs out at the injustice that this young man faces with his bogus charges, illegal sentencing & inhuman conditions he lives under, and everyone simply ignores them. Why? Well, because they have heard that at some point he supported Israel, so..ehh..fuck him. Well, newsflash assholes, not only was he charged for documenting in an epically long blog post the violations that the army conducted against the revolutionaries starting from the 18 days and not his support for Israel, there is no law that prevents an Egyptian from declaring a favorable opinion of Israel if he wishes to do so. To put it to you more bluntly: It’s within his right to declare his support for Israel if he wishes and to write posts that criticize the army, and your personal opinion of how distasteful that may be or how deserving it is of punishment is completely & utterly irrelevant. This is why it’s called a right: because it’s there protecting you, even when you- according to public opinion- least deserve it. Again for all of you not getting this: A right is a right because even in the worst circumstances, even when you least you deserve it, you are entitled to it. (I am repeating this sentence especially for all of you assholes who claim to be human rights activists and supported the Free Alaa cause and yet refuse to support Maikel Nabil because of the “Israel issue”. What a bunch of hypocrites you are.)
But what’s even more maddening, is that we can’t hate them for any of this, because we know that they simply, for some reason, just don’t get it. And it’s not just that they don’t get it: they simply refuse to see it. Hell, when one female Protesters at the Egyptian Cabinet Clashes was dragged and beaten by army soldiers, her cloths torn off, showing her bra, many of them wondered openly why was she at the Protest to begin with and why was she not wearing layers in this cold, unless it was in order to have the soldier beat her up and tear her cloths so she can cause a scandal for the army. Mind you, they are watching the same video as we are, yet somehow, the issue for them is not her getting beaten up by the same army that’s being paid to protect her, or getting sexually assaulted in broad daylight by them, but rather why was she there and if she had this diabolical plot to get the poor army soldiers to beat her up so she can show her bra to the world. Yes, let’s focus on the blue bra, and ignore the boot of the soldier on the stomach right under it. That’s the real issue here, clearly.
But despite it all, we understand. We get it. We get your fears, your hate, your deeply nurtured prejudices, and we refuse to give up on you. We will continue being there, reminding you of your humanity, because we refuse to believe that you are not good people, and that we live in the Joker’s Country. Maybe we are as delusional as you, but to be honest, we just feel guilty and responsible. We do.
One of the points that always get overlooked in the discourse of the revolution is the feeling of responsibility that has befallen many revolutionaries. At times when none of you are watching, in moments we don’t talk about with others, we face what the revolution has wrought, and we take a long hard look at ourselves and what we’ve done. The worst thing about this exercise is how lousy the story gets the moment the 18 days were over. If we hadn’t made the choice to revolt and then hand over power to the same people who used to give the best military salutes for 30 years to the man we revolted against, then all of the misery that followed from the thousands who were injured and maimed, the hundreds dead that we know about (and those we never even heard of their deaths), the thousands who ended up receiving years long sentences from completely unfair & illegal military trials, to the hundreds of thousands who lost their jobs, to the millions facing hard times economically due to a transitional government that failed to enact a single economical plan or measure to improve the economy in any way, and to the public, which we introduced terms like “forced virginity tests” into their everyday vocabulary, would not have happened. Yes, we definitely share a responsibility for all of this, but it’s not for causing it, because we didn’t cause it, but for being unable to stop it. Any of it.
We couldn’t protect you from those who used your fears to push forward their agenda of oppression and injustice. We couldn’t protect you from those who incited you to attack your brothers and sisters by claiming they are attempting to destroy your lives. We couldn’t protect you from their inaction, their guns, their military courts, their prisons, and their clear as day goal of aborting this revolution & preventing it from enacting any kind of real change or bringing any justice to all those who were maimed, tortured, imprisoned and murdered. We were so tired after those 18 days, that when the SCAF showed up and offered to guide the transitional period, we jubilantly agreed, because we wanted to believe so much that they are with us, and because we truly didn’t want to clash with them as well. Basically, when it truly mattered, we were chicken-shit and lazy. And we have been paying for this in blood ever since.
In my last post I wondered if the lives lost in Mohamed Mahmoud and Egyptian Cabinet were worth fighting for the symbol of Tahrir, but that was the wrong way to look at it. When the military took over, they promised to hand over Power by the end of September 2011 (remember?), and when that date passed and no power was handed over, they decided to extend the transitional period until end of March 2013. Then the Mohamed Mahmoud events happened, and with the mounting casualties the SCAF was pressured to move the date to end of June 2012, and then the Egyptian cabinet events happened, and with the mounting casualties they are now talking about speeding up the process and possibly having the Presidential elections as early as the end of January. And here comes the lesson: With every life lost, we speed up the transition from military rule to civilian rule. This is why we call them our martyrs, because they are literally getting us closer to our freedom with their very lives. I have always heard that Freedom is only won by blood, but I never wanted this to be the case here. Those people’s blood is on all of our hands, not only their killers’, because their sacrifice became necessary due to our complacency. They are winning us our freedom with their blood, and many of us call them thugs. I guess it’s easier than facing the ugly truth about them and us.
And by the way, the pressure that was placed on SCAF to speed up the process was obviously not internal pressure, since so many of our people were very much pro the protesters getting killed, but rather external pressure. Oh yeah. In case you didn’t know, when news of Egypt now comes on international media channels, they showcase a pictures of a protester getting beaten up by a soldier, with the picture of Marshal Tantawi, who with his military garb and Nubian features looks very much like one of those military rulers of Rwanda or Liberia, or one of those African Banana Republics. In contrast, whenever they showcase news from Tunisia, they showcase a Tunisian girl waving her country’s flag. Brilliant, isn’t it? The outside world sees that something is clearly going wrong here, while the locals are still undecided about that, and believe silly conspiracy theories of invisible hands and third parties, just like a good third world country would.
Egypt…..The Banana republic… The Joker’s country…. Over my dead body. People of Egypt, You deserve better. Believe it!