Revolution for the Masses, Leaders for the Media

_51109727_011189195-1New Orleans If the commentary on TV and in print about Egypt were not so ridiculous, pathetic, tragic, and misinformed about such deadly serious business as freedom, revolution, and regime change, it would actually be funny.

I listened to a blip on CNN on the way to the Hornets game last night with my son in which a commentator on the ground in Cairo named Nic, I believe, Robinson, pontificated on how unusual, and essentially frustrating, all of this was because there were no easily identified leaders, and then he proceeded to tell the views in an intimate tone that essential “as we all know” revolutions are ignited by charismatic and easily identified leaders and this is not the case in Egypt.   Earlier in anger I had read the same thing in an AP story trying to argue that Egypt was different and unsettling because a dozen days in they had still not been able to identify a transcendent leader to rally around in the streets.  The Times almost as pathetically wondered today whether the released Google exec might be willing to stand up and be the much needed face and voice of the revolution.

At one level this is ridiculous because it contradicts reports on the ground in Egypt.  The largely young organizers of the demonstrations are known and recognized and were even given seats at table in the early meetings with Mubarak’s vice-president and now chief negotiator of the transition.  Furthermore according to Al Masry Al Youm in the English edition yesterday:

“Five major groups [participating in the demonstrations] have formed a revolutionary committee and chosen ten individuals to represent them,” said activist Ziad al-Alimy on Monday.

Al-Alimy explained that the coalition included the 6 April protest movement, the Muslim Brotherhood’s youth wing, the Mohamed ElBaradei Support Group, the Young Freedom and Justice Movement and the Democratic Front Party’s youth wing.

The development represents the first appearance of a unified leadership among protesters, who insist on maintaining their popular uprising that began on 25 January.

“The coalition will coordinate with other opposition parties and groups to continue demanding the departure of President Hosni Mubarak,” al-Alimy said.

He added that the coalition had not participated in the talks held recently between some opposition parties and newly-appointed Vice-President Omar Suleiman.

So, the bottom line is that the problem is not that there are not leaders.  There are obviously.  The media and the government are troubled by the fact that these leaders understand with all apologies to Nic and others that revolutions are fueled to success from the bottom, not from the top, and they are trying to maintain their aligned to the base to survive long enough to topple the government despite the concerns of the State Department and other countries and the interests of the media in tying this into a neater little package of sound bites with head shots of the coming boss.  In Egypt the real organizers and leaders want the new boss to be different than the old boss, not just the same as the old boss, as The Who sang.

Perhaps it might remind some of a country they are not very familiar with:  The United States of America!

Don’t believe me, read American Insurgents, American Patriots by distinguished Northwestern University Professor T.H. Breen, published last year, which through brilliant research resuscitates the role of common people and their role in making the American revolution work.  Breen once again proved how the mass base in hundreds of communities across largely rural America moved years ahead of the Declaration of Independence and forced the “leaders” to emerge who were willing to follow them.  Just as we are seeing in the Cairo streets, they were insurgents then in English terms and only became patriots later in American terms after we won our independence and freedoms.

Put your pencil and computers down for a second, and read a book, if you are unable to simply listen to what people on the street in Egypt are saying.  This is how revolutions are made from the bottom, and it’s why they are unstoppable, despite the huge forces daily trying to co-opt their energy and power.

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More Wildness: Media Matters and the Daily Show

media-matters_small-logoNew Orleans Being on the road is a little like having a “delay switch” on information and the mess and mayhem of life and business. I used to joke years ago about one way to hide information from me was to send it through an attachment! And, so it is with my buddy, Glenn Beck, and his efforts to organize my fan club.

Thanks to Media Matters, which is really an excellent organization doing the hard and thankless job of trying to dial down some of the wildness out there and throw some facts at the fire, I was able to actually read what Beck was slinging out there. Below I’ll share for your own head nodding and reading pleasure:

Beck Strains To Tie ACORN To Egyptian Unrest. During the February 1 edition of his show, Beck stated:

BECK: It’s interesting to note a few other leftists who seem somewhat involved in what is happening in Egypt. Believe it or not, Wade Rathke – Wade Rathke, the ACORN guy, and Drummond Pike of the Tides Foundation are both on the board of the Organizers Forum.

This is a forum that was planned to host their fall 2011 international dialogue in Egypt, where they will meet with labor and community organizers and other activists in Cairo.

I’m sure that they’re just there for social justice. That’s it. What a coincidence. Wade Rathke even put on his Web site — or this is actually not Wade’s Web site. This is the coalition’s — the forum’s Web site.

It says: “Exciting changes and developments are currently taking place in Egypt with elections coming soon to determine leadership transitions in what has been an autocratic regime now challenged by the Muslim Brotherhood and succession and democracy issues.”

Coincidence just doesn’t seem to stop. Why would Rathke and Pike plan a big get together in Egypt? Maybe the flights to Cairo are cheaper than the flights to Vegas. I don’t know.

Maybe they’ve always wanted to see the pyramids. Or maybe they’re sowing the seeds of unrest, because global revolution is what they’re looking for. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 2/1/11]

What can I say, but wow! And, my heart goes out to the Media Matters staff who actually watch all of this garbage and then mildly comment that it is a “strain.”

Jon Stewart and The Daily Show seem to have been on the job here just like Media Matters. At the end of his show the other day, he seems to have repeated the piece for the obvious humor involved in the “moment of zen” feature, where Wade Rathke , “the ACORN guy” gets to be a revolutionary moving the Islamic beat from the streets and across the globe.

Check this out:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-february-2-2011/moment-of-zen—glenn-beck-warns-of-the-world-imploding

It’s an honor to be mentioned on The Daily Show, but what a way to get a laugh!

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