Monday, February 14, 2011

Time for Some Idealism

A week ago Sunday, we saw George W. Bush watching the Superbowl ensconced in his hermetically sealed box at the EnormoDome (or whatever it’s called). Good thing the NFL put the game in Texas, since Bush can’t travel much: he scrapped plans to travel to Switzerland because if he shows up there, he’ll likely be charged for his role in the torture of prisoners taken in Afghanistan and Iraq. Same thing if travels to virtually any other country in the civilized world—or at least civilized enough to have both signed on to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and shown a willingness to abide by it (criteria, by the by, that the U.S. currently does not meet).

Later that week, we saw tens of thousands of protestors in Cairo bring down a dictatorship with nothing but a desire for freedom and democracy. In one interview I saw, a young Egyptian quoted Patrick Henry, saying, “Give me liberty or give me death!” Another held up a sign with Cartman from South Park telling Mubarak to leave. From the sublime to the ridiculous, America was in the hearts and minds of those in Tahrir Square, and as an American, I was incredibly proud.

I’ve found myself thinking a lot about that juxtaposition this past week—an ex president who can’t leave his country because of his willingness to wipe his feet on values previously hallowed in American democracy, and a people achieving a dream armed only with a sincere belief in those values.