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The Tentacle


February 21, 2011

Madison, Egypt

Steven R. Berryman

Egyptians everywhere were rejoicing in sympathy with America as they watched coverage of the “freedom riots” of Madison, Wisconsin, broadcast by al Jazeera with permission of CNN.

 

I passed a man on the street in Cairo’s Freedom Square who recognized me as a famous journalist. He came up to me to say how proud he was for us in taking our government back: Ahmad said, “Today, we are all Americans!”

 

Of course, I’m being a little facetious above, but a wide television shot of masses with signs, surging back and forth yelling violently can be construed many ways through the prism of language and culture barriers.

 

Is this the “new civility” that our president promised?

 

And even if the Middle-Eastern press catches a good direct translation byte from events in Madison, it may be at an “inopportune time,” such as when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker mentioned that he has dispatched “state police” in search of Democrats.

 

Sounds like all hell’s breaking loose to me, Omar!

 

Now, of course, the uprising in Wisconsin (now spreading to other states) has nothing to do with the uprisings in Egypt (now spreading to Libya, Yemen, etc.)

 

In America, it is primarily Christians rising up against what they view as government sponsored oppression. In Egypt, it is primarily Muslims rising up against what they view as government sponsored oppression. However, in both cases, there are reportedly secular factions mixed in with the masses.

 

The intelligencia and cognoscenti in America – mostly commenting on Facebook – are reportedly concerned that President Barack Obama is somewhat biased in his response to the events in Madison; I am hearing the phrase “culture wars” more than usual in response to his defense of unions.

 

Nice timing for the White House to have a fresh-faced press secretary to translate comments against a sitting governor, elected with a fresh mandate.

 

This, of course has nothing to do with our president’s relationships with teachers unions, ACORN, and supporters of Planned Parenthood. Contributions to his political campaign “war chest” (can I still say that?) can buy a bunch of loyalty. Absent that, a career in “neighborhood organizing” certainly qualifies as a predictor of future behavior!

 

In Egypt, demonstrations originating from economic costs to citizens via a despotic ruler proved to be the major contributor to the unrest; it’s not getting much better either, as another leader in new strong-man Omar Suleiman is considered potentially “same as the old boss.”

 

In Wisconsin, demonstrations originating from economic costs to citizens via a despotic governor – according to MSMBC anyway – proved to be the major contributor to the unrest; it’s not getting much better either, as it is being reported by major media that this “governor,” Scott Walker, really has it in for teachers, and does not understand that the unions are “all about the students.”

 

That’s why the absently AWOL students hitched a ride with teachers in order to be truant, right? Nothing fortunate about having a freebee day off was considered by the students, right?

 

On Saturday, the president of the Frederick County Teachers Association, Gary Brennan, commented on Facebook to a TheTentacle.com writer, Rocky Mackintosh, post:

 

“Governor Walker is a hypocrite. The unions are ready to make concessions on money, which is what he lies and says it is all about. The reality is he wants to crush collective bargaining in his state. He needs to be honest about it. The fact he exempted the two unions that supported him in his election from his anti-collective bargaining provisions is another clear statement that this guy is all about power and his own agenda. Why is he afraid to go to the table – he didn't even give that a chance. I support the people in the streets and the Democratic senators in Illinois. It is sad to see what is happening in this country.”

 

Well, if labor cost is busting the budget, Mr. Brennan, and unions are all about getting money for their paid membership, and loss of bargaining rights would diminish the role of union leaders, I’d be pushing the rioting, too, if I were you!

 

They had all “been at the table” already, Mr. Brennan, and that’s why your people are headed for the hill instead of voting; they had lost their case against fiscal responsibility and remediation of past largess.

 

Do consider the Tea Party counter protests, as it’s time for Americans to “walk like Egyptians” for the right reasons.

 

srbmgr@gmail.com

 



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