San Pedro Sula Newspapers, as the saying goes, write the rough drafts of history. In Egypt is is fascinating to watch the 20-day process of rewriting, revising, and re-framing that is already taking place in papers like the New York Times.
The first drafts desperately wanted this to be a Facebook or Twitter revolution…young and hip, and that’s still the hope in the rewriting now, because that supposedly had helped drive the Tunisia overthrow only days before. Then there was the effort to try and find the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Nobel Laureate wherever possible, though it was hard to do, since neither were on the scene in many situations and seemed almost uncomfortable and disconnected from the masses on the streets. Finally, as the plot thickened the real organizers, as we have discussed earlier, grabbed the press by the collar and had to break it down for them.
Now, luckily, every day we get to see behind the screen a little more clearly.
Today’s lead story purported to once again sand the story down. Maybe the story is even accurate but I worry that we are getting spun again by someone somewhere behind the screen.
The line today was back to the Balkans and earlier overthrows from the state, particularly the role played Optor years ago. There the Times had wanted to credit text messages and other communications devices as if all the tools were the same as the carpenters.
It was nice to see that Gene Sharp once again got to make an appearance. He has been a relentless advocate and theorist of non-violence and one of the unparalleled heroes behind many of the most dramatic efforts to win popular voices a place against firmly entrenched dictatorships. His has been thankless work, so when he is anywhere near a success, the world is frankly a better place. When I read the Times piece on Optor, I tracked down Gene at his Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and he not only agreed to speak at one of the first dialogues of the Organizers’ Forum, but sent me a copy of his books developing his theories on non-violent organizing, which I found fascinating. That’s the good news.
The other piece of the news is the way that it is so important for victories to have a thousand fathers is that often Gene’s work and many of these efforts have been funded by various arms of the US government, like National Endowment for Democracy and others. Given that Secretary of State Clinton had been busted for being off message, I wonder if others are lining up to make sure that they get some accolades for the next funding cycle.
So, good work Gene, and all props to the organizers and the Egyptian people, and we’ll have to look for the future reports as we find the real story in future drafts.