- Important: All passwords were reset on 06/15/11. Old passwords will no longer work. Click here to retrieve your password.
- Subscribe to Our Free Dewsletter
We are non-commercial, all volunteer and supported by our readers. Please help sustain the Dew by making a donation.
Egyptian protests echoed MLK strategy
There are not so many obvious connections between Egypt and Atlanta, yet there was one that some people have realized. That same connection may have wider tendrils than we recognize.
Egypt’s ruler fell not because of force of arms, nor even because of terrorism in the streets of Cairo. Instead, the fall came after a remarkable, relatively peaceful demonstration. There were protests in the streets, but largely subdued compared to what has been seen in violent overthrows in other countries.
The connection between Georgia and Egypt is what many throughout the world have learned from Dr. Martin Luther King: the non-violent approach to social — and governmental — change. Such an approach is revolutionary. Dr. King sometimes had virtually to hold back his own soldiers for the cause when they were brutally attacked, such as during the Selma march. Slowly, ever so slowly, Dr. King and his people began to make his non-violent message understood as more people in our country not only adopted his methods, but saw his program spread and thrive.
Now we recognize that Dr. King’s message did not limit itself to the borders of this country. Of course, Dr. King himself got much of his thrust from the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi of India. This approach has an universal appeal to those oppressed, whether of people in the former Soviet block, in dictator-led nations of Africa, or the Arab world, or in any country where people are ruled from on high. Peoples throughout the world began understanding the success of a non-violent approach to change.
So the 18 days of street protests in Egypt won victory through the protesters holding the lid on violence. What they were seeking was not just the overthrow of a governmental leader and his programs … but wanting to see their country move forward in a progressive manner, creating more freedom, and more than anything, more opportunity for the average Egyptian.
Over and over we are told that democracy may have its problems, but that it is a far better form of government than anyone else has devised.
That’s because what anchors democracy is not just picking its leaders through open and fair elections. The linchpin of democracy is far more than that. Democracy gives the individual a coveted position, one that allows the united efforts of individuals to pick their leaders in a free and open manner. Prior to any democratic election, a country must have free and open discussion of the qualities of the candidates before the individual person can intelligently cast his or her vote.
So what gives democracy its power is that the individual must exercise the power of freedom, and have the right to go up any legal path to determine how to cast that vote. Then, once candidates are in office, they must conduct the public’s business in an open and legal manner, or else face the wrath of the voter.
Given all this, we come back to one of our basic rights, as written in the 45 words of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which says:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Essentially, this is what happened in Egypt: a petitioning (through peaceful assembly), to redress grievances. It could not have happened without Egyptians adopting Dr. King’s approach. We applaud their approach and their success.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
Way back in 1988, I sat across from Strom Thurmond in his Capitol Hill office in Washington, D.C., and listened as he explained his opposition to federal anti-lynching laws and any other federal encroachment on states’ rights during his long career. “I felt it was dangerous to shift it all to Washington,” the then-85-year-old U.S. senator and former Dixiecrat presidential candidate from South Carolina told me. “Lynching was nothing but murder. All states had laws against murder. … I’ve never had any feelings against minorities.” Never mind that Thurmond, who died at 101 in 2003, led the Dixiecrat revolt out of the Democratic Par Read on →
Nothing is as it seems in the land of the Cons. We've got to remember that. Sometimes it seems that, regardless of the issue, con men have to deceive, even if it means cutting off their own noses or, if they happen to be politicians, the noses of the constituents they expect to vote for them. If that makes no sense, it is still a fact in the twenty states where Governors, no doubt on the advice of their Representatives in Congress, are rejecting the extra dollars that would extend health care to people not earning enough to afford even subsidized Read on →
Last week Americans saw heavy media coverage of the death 50 years ago of President John F. Kennedy. I couldn't help but compare the aftermath and funeral of JFK with that of Abraham Lincoln, both victims of assassins. One reason this came to mind is because I had just finished a year-long project -- reading Carl Sandburg's six volume biography of Lincoln. (Altogether, it was about 2,400 pages, and that in small type. I gave myself a year to read it, and as a reward, could read a shorter book when I finished each volume.) Sandburg's massive biography is a great read, Read on →
I looked over and the strange fact that Pamela Kheto was driving seemed perfectly normal, even though my sole contact with her in the last ten years was a brief meeting in a parking lot where she tried to recruit me for some kind of power-grab at her church. When I looked to the front I saw we were on rough terrain. I felt the bottom scraping on large boulders, finally hitting something huge that threatened to completely tie us up, the edge of a cliff actually, but our momentum carried us up and over, teetering on the edge a Read on →