Monday, February 28, 2011

Power to the People

I grew up in a world full of bogeymen.  When I was little, this involved scaly green guys who lived under my bed, forcing me to run and JUMP for my life when I would turn out the light (we had not yet invented the clapper at this point, nor did my parents seem to believe in such miracles as "night lights").  Occasionally they would take up residence in my closet, but as keeping the closet door shut was a perfect panacea to such issues, this was not as huge a deal as being dragged under my mattress into the dusty, moldy darkness underneath where the scaly green thing could perform all sorts of depravities upon my flesh.  Like forcing me to listen to opera.  Or sit quietly through church.  Shudder....

As I grew older, this fear morphed very naturally into fear of the "SOVIET UNION".  Godless communists roamed our country everywhere, ready to drag us down into a pit of inequity, and only through CONSTANT VIGILENCE and pledging our allegiance to god and country daily could we fight off the wave of socialist agressors who were threatening OUR WAY OF LIFE.  Never mind that on the screen these creatures of Karl Marxian dread were usually pretty bungling and inept (how many times can you miss a secret agent from Britain when you have 30 guys with machine guns shooting at him... for crying out loud... hit the snotty, arrogant bastard!!!).  Ahem... but I digress... 

I was lucky enough to watch the Soviet Union crumble in the late 80's and early 90's.  I watched with joy and pride as the people first trickled, then seeped, then flooded out of the openings nations like Hungary made in the iron curtain that had once surrounded the Soviet Union and its patrons.  And then the Berlin wall fell, one of the most spectacular and joyful moments in history.  An oppressed people celebrating the return of their freedom, the dismantling of the physical representation of several generations of literal and figurative tyranny and personal limitations.

We are seeing this again today.  We have spent most of the last two decades (and to some degree earlier then that) worried about the Middle East, about the new bogeymen that have been created there.  Some of them created themselves and have kept their people under a boot heel (Colonel "Clink" Ghadafi; Saddam "Runs Like Water" Hussein).  Others were created with some help from us, over a long time or a short period (Osama "I Heart Explosives" Bin Laden).

But now here comes the youth of these countries, armed with internet access and cell phones, facebook and twitter accounts.  They've decided... that's enough.  No more.  It's time for change.  Two regimes are already gone, several more are being uprooted, and the fight for the hearts and minds of the middle east - much like eastern Europe - has almost nothing to do with America, and everything to do with the people who live there, whose homes and families and lives are what's at stake now.

It's a crazy cool time to be alive.  Unlike the apologists in our "conservative" party, I'm not freaked out that muslim extremists are taking over the region country by country, a la Iran.  These countries have been run by dictators created on their own, unlike the Shah of Iran who was an American puppet, bought and placed in power after our own agencies assassinated the rightful president of that country in the 1950's.  The protests are mostly peaceful, too, unlike the Iranian revolution, only falling into violence in self defense of their liberties.

It's like the end of the cold war.  Of course, Obama won't take credit for it like everyone gave Reagan credit for that ending (which, other then spending us into oblivion, had very little truth).  But I seem to recall Obama going to Egypt last year and putting forth a subtle speech for revolution that was mocked widely by conservatives here. Maybe we should give him a little more credit for the results.

In any case... it seems like there are fewer and fewer bogeymen to worry about.  Now if I can just get over my fear of James Franco and his horribly stilted Oscar hosting performance.....

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