Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Information is like food

Juan Cole's blog had a link to this video where one of the online activists who helped start the uprising in Egypt spoke from the heart, following 12 days in blindfolded detention, and 48 hours without sleep. Wael Ghonim is a self-proclaimed rich kid, one who lied to his boss at Google in the UAE to get some days off to join the revolutionaries in Cairo. But he got picked up right away and held by Egyptian security forces. They didn't inflict physical harm, but listen to the frantic tone when he reports his panic at being news-less for 12 days.

Information is like food to some people.

Thanks to Egypt’s DreamTV channel for providing fresh information about the intentions of the organizers, and the material and moral support from like-minded young people, in motion, rising across the region.

A fitting counterpoint is this reporting, by Al Jazeera journalist Mya Guarnieri, on the creep of fascism into Israel's hearts, minds and laws. I like how she notes that she may run afoul of Israel's creepy state security as a result of the article, and in the spirit of "might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb" adds:
(And, if I'm already headed for the clinker, I might as well state the obvious: A country that must force people to call it democratic, on pain of imprisonment, is not a democracy).
The quote that struck closest to my U.S.ian heart, however, was from a 29 year old who declined to be identified. How many of your friends and acquaintances does he sound like here? I'm reminded of a 20 year old telling me how he is disgusted by hipsters in the U.S. on the grounds that they have no principles and stand for nothing, but think themselves hip on the grounds of being vaguely artsy.
Oded, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, remarks that this kind of ultra-nationalism is at the root of both racism and fascism.

"Are you going to protest?" I ask.

"No," he says. "Right now, however self-centred it sounds, it doesn't really interest me because I have things in my personal life that are more important. And I'm lazy."
And the next thing he says reminds me of how old I am, unwilling to start over, skeptical that there's any place I'm needed more than here:
When I ask him if he thinks such apathy might allow extremists to take over, he nods. "I think [if we had a fascist government,] I would just leave," he says, voicing something I have heard many Israelis say.
Plus, I think the 20 year old might be wrong about the hipsters. If there's one thing uniting the youth of the planet at this point in history, it's their passion for information to be free. Why do you think cyber terrorists keep trying to crash Codepink's website? For fear it will feed the masses...

Bradley Manning, 258 days in solitary.

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