Thursday, October 27, 2011

Words To Live And Die By

When I first heard this young woman's video I thought it would be good for everyone to hear what she said. When Democracy Now posted the translation I decided to put what she said on the Report. While the physical realities between Egypt's Mubarak government and police state are not as apparent as the Bush/Obama government and police state in this country, her words, as current events demonstrate certainly apply her and now. So, here is what she said, many thanks to Democracy Now:

ASMAA MAHFOUZ: [translated] Four Egyptians have set themselves on fire to protest humiliation and hunger and poverty and degradation they had to live with for 30 years. Four Egyptians have set themselves on fire thinking maybe we can have a revolution like Tunisia, maybe we can have freedom, justice, honor and human dignity. Today, one of these four has died, and I saw people commenting and saying, "May God forgive him. He committed a sin and killed himself for nothing."
People, have some shame.
I posted that I, a girl, am going down to Tahrir Square, and I will stand alone. And I’ll hold up a banner. Perhaps people will show some honor. I even wrote my number so maybe people will come down with me. No one came except three guys—three guys and three armored cars of riot police. And tens of hired thugs and officers came to terrorize us. They shoved us roughly away from the people. But as soon as we were alone with them, they started to talk to us. They said, "Enough! These guys who burned themselves were psychopaths." Of course, on all national media, whoever dies in protest is a psychopath. If they were psychopaths, why did they burn themselves at the parliament building?
I’m making this video to give you one simple message: we want to go down to Tahrir Square on January 25th. If we still have honor and want to live in dignity on this land, we have to go down on January 25th. We’ll go down and demand our rights, our fundamental human rights.
I won’t even talk about any political rights. We just want our human rights and nothing else. This entire government is corrupt—a corrupt president and a corrupt security force. These self-immolaters were not afraid of death but were afraid of security forces. Can you imagine that? Are you going to kill yourselves, too, or are you completely clueless? I’m going down on January 25th, and from now 'til then I'm going to distribute fliers in the streets. I will not set myself on fire. If the security forces want to set me on fire, let them come and do it.
If you think yourself a man, come with me on January 25th. Whoever says women shouldn’t go to protests because they will get beaten, let him have some honor and manhood and come with me on January 25th. Whoever says it is not worth it because there will only be a handful of people, I want to tell him, "You are the reason behind this, and you are a traitor, just like the president or any security cop who beats us in the streets." Your presence with us will make a difference, a big difference. Talk to your neighbors, your colleagues, friends and family, and tell them to come. They don’t have to come to Tahrir Square. Just go down anywhere and say it, that we are free human beings. Sitting at home and just following us on news or Facebook leads to our humiliation, leads to my own humiliation. If you have honor and dignity as a man, come. Come and protect me and other girls in the protest. If you stay at home, then you deserve all that is being done, and you will be guilty before your nation and your people. And you’ll be responsible for what happens to us on the streets while you sit at home.
Go down to the street. Send SMSes. Post it on the net. Make people aware. You know your own social circle, your building, your family, your friends. Tell them to come with us. Bring five people or 10 people. If each one of us manages to bring five or 10 to Tahrir Square and talk to people and tell them, "This is enough. Instead of setting ourselves on fire, let us do something positive," it will make a difference, a big difference.
Never say there’s no hope. Hope disappears only when you say there’s none. So long as you come down with us, there will be hope. Don’t be afraid of the government. Fear none but God. God says He will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. Don’t think you can be safe anymore. None of us are. Come down with us and demand your rights, my rights, your family’s rights. I am going down on January 25th, and I will say no to corruption, no to this regime. [Source]

I had also planned on running a video by the Young Turks about the Oakland police assault on the Marine veteran when I happened to notice a similar video on the Humboldt Herald and SoHum Parlance II. I would suggest following up with these comment sections, in particular on SoHum Parlance II because there is a good discussion. Here are some of my comments on this subject. What I write here is not based upon some theory, but on actual life's experience living and working in the Pacific Northwest timber industry.

SoHum Parlance II: Last Night in Oakland
As long as the demonstrators give the police permission they will get beaten, gassed and arrested. It’s as simple as that. It’s the little secret government and the police know. 
So, you want to know what I mean by “give permission.” That’s exactly what you do when you play the poor “non-violent” victim while asking the big bully to see you as something more. It’s the difference between being non-violent and non-cooperative. The government authorities are going to use the police to continue to deal with you exactly as Rush Limbaugh puts it: “These protestors, who are actually few in number, have contributed nothing. They’re parasites. They’re pure, genuine parasites. Many of them are bored, trust-fund kinds, obsessed with being something, being somebody. Meaningless lives, they want to matter.” The rallying cry in Egypt was: “I count, too.” If you believe you “count,” expect to be treated with respect, walk with honor and dignity and that NO man or woman has the right to put their hands on you, then that is exactly how you act; that is exactly what you project. When you believe the police have the legal right to beat you when they are clearly criminal in their actions, you give them permission. When a hundred protestors stand around watching three or four police brutally beat a young woman senseless and drag her off to detention and do absolutely nothing to stop it, there is certainly no honor, dignity or manhood. So, why should anyone expect the government, the rich elite that own the government or their police enforcers to treat them as of equal value? They don’t and they won’t. A lesson the Oakland demonstrators learned in the last couple of night. 

This question was asked: I understand your words Joe… but I think that sounds easier than in practice. What exactly would you have done if you were there, to assert your dignity? 

Bolithio, Your darned right it’s hard when you’re staring down a combat-hardened thug twice your size coming at you in a violent rage. What I “would do” is what I’ve always done when confronted with such a situation. I make them understand there are consequences for what they do. That means I would do whatever I had to do to defend myself. I never play their game. The police are violent people, recognize that fact and deal with them accordingly. When it comes to protests and demonstrations, everyone must be equally motivated to stop cooperating with the violence. The Oakland Occupy Movement has decided to step up to the challenge and move to shut down Oakland. That puts everyone in Oakland on notice and record. Who supports the illegitimate criminals and who does not.

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