Beware What You Ask of the Genie
By Burt Prelutsky
As I sit here, Cairo is ablaze with Molotov cocktails, and nobody knows if Hosni Mubarak has booked a flight aboard Deposed Despots Airlines. Come to think of it, perhaps the reason he wants to stay put until September is because he realizes how much cheaper airline tickets are when you can order them six or seven months ahead of time.
A lot of people in America are elated by the sight of mobs gathering in the streets of Egypt. They view it as an oppressed people longing for liberty. They rejoice at the prospect of a dictator being dumped in favor of democracy. That is because a lot of people who are forever quoting Santayana's quip, "Those who can not remember the past are condemned to repeat it," have apparently remembered precious little themselves. It would seem that the extent of their historical knowledge begins and ends with the final score of the recent Super Bowl.
The thing to keep in mind is that Cairo and Alexandria are not to be confused with Concord and Lexington, and nobody in the streets lobbing rocks and burning bottles is named Washington, Adams, Madison or Jefferson.
Then there are those simpletons whose eyes begin to twinkle at the mere mention of the word "revolution." But comparing most revolutions to our own is sheer insanity. The French Revolution led to Robespierre and the Reign of Terror. The Russian Revolution led to Stalin and the gulags. China's Revolution brought us Mao and the slaughter of millions. Cuba's Revolution brought us Castro, and the Iranian Revolution brought forth the Ayatollah Khomeini.
Nobody can argue that each of those uprisings toppled a rotten good-for-nothing, but only a fool or a left-winger (or do I repeat myself?) would suggest that he wasn't replaced by someone far more monstrous.
Those good-hearted chumps who insist that democracy is the end-all and be-all are sadly misguided. Hitler won a popular election, as did Hamas in Gaza, as did Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, in America. Just because folks are allowed to vote is no guarantee that they can always be trusted to do the right thing. In too many cases, it's like handing a loaded revolver to a toddler.
At this point, nobody is certain whom or what would fill the power vacuum once Mubarak is gone. But being the pessimist I am, and the Middle East being the dunghill it is, I'm predicting it will be the Muslim Brotherhood, with Mohamed ElBaradei acting as its front man...