war and paranoia in the 22nd century: revolution update

6 March 2011 § Leave a comment

Oh, wait. We’re not there yet, are we? We’ve still got to bucket those misunderstood dictators and their kids – equally well-versed in denial tactics – that drop bombs to merely scare the protesters that might overthrow the same regime they were born under. And nevermind the senior Gaddafi’s spectacles – straight out of the 80’s. (I usually have to update mine, lest they blur my sight. A lesson for the old man?)

But that’s not the only thing happening in the world. Apparently, Chinese facebookers are organizing protest rallies for themselves, to create their Jasmine Revolution from the heart of Hong Kong. They are ten or twelve people strong. Elsewhere, police blanketed entire areas rumored to host protests. Big China is vying mostly for stability, so they say. As their economy grows steadily to the top of the world food chain, that little group of pro-democracy protesters hopes to expand, to grow, to take over.

In light of Shi’a protests in Saudi Arabia claiming discrimination by the Sunni state, King Abdullah banned protest rallies entirely. Having just returned to his country from a three-month absence, the monarch did a few interesting things: as a Sunni monarch without a parliament, he denied any discrimination against the Shi’a people (the lesser numbered sect of Islam. Their differences are rarely peacefully resolved).

He also issued 37 billion dollars in benefits to the Saudi people. Then he sent ten thousand police forces to make sure no protests were going to happen. Coincidence? Bribery?

Libya, meanwhile, has turned into an all-out war. Protesters are arming themselves with Kalishnikovs and anti-tank artillery. Gunshots echo over NPR in the sort of unlooped audio clip you’d hope for in a typical pop song, but never hear.

Bahrain, a nation also with an absolute monarchy, is in its fourth week of open protest. Thousands hold down the prime minister’s Manama palace demanding that he step down and that someone take an industrial-size eraser to Bahrain’s 2002 constitution, which gave the king all the power in the land. Thousands of people demanding change don’t just back off, guys. You should know that by now.

Saleh, the Yemeni president, seems to be doing all he can to quell the protests, amid supposed al-Qaeda attacks against his soldiers. The death toll is at 27, and probably rising. Sana’a is heating up by the day, and Saleh, who rose to power in 1978 (right around the time most of the currently-being-overthrown leaders took over their respective countries) thinks he’s still the guy for the job. Of course. They all do.

Meanwhile, the world up in flames, one might think Americans are sitting on their couches, eating ice cream and watching youtube videos of 16-year-olds making fools of themselves. Well, most of us are.

However, a little group of hackers called Anonymous, some of whose members are busy hacking their way into the websites of multi-national corporations – Visa, Mastercard, and Paypal most notably – to help along the idea of free speech and expression: they brought down those websites when the companies moved to keep donations from getting to WikiLeaks.

Anonymous is also, naturally, helping along the Arab World Revolution – they flooded Tunisia’s and Egypt’s government sites with requests, shorting out the sites. This is the dawn of cyberprotest – of our wired generation taking up digital arms to speak up and out, to create change, to make obsolete the laws that govern stagnant societies into the ground.

Brilliant. Keep it up, guys and girls.


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