Such long-suffering saints, they’d have you believe.
As protests sweep the Middle East, I, like most people, have experienced a range of emotions. I haven’t followed closely enough to be an authority on political affairs in that part of the world, but I have paid enough attention to be incredulous and completely incensed that so much of what is happening has been allowed to transpire. As a Western society, we often speak of how we never want to see another Holocaust happen – and yet all over the globe, similarly evil acts are performed each day. I won’t get into the myriad reasons to be outraged about this because there are plenty of people more knowledgeable than myself who can comment more eloquently. I’d simply like to share some of the thoughts that have been swimming through my head as these events – at once horrifying and inspiring – unfold.
On Thursday February 10th, right after Hosni Mubarak deigned to deliver his I-ain’t-goin’-nowhere-bitches speech (and not long before he snuck out of Cairo and had his VP deliver a 30-second He’s-outta-here-bitches announcement), I felt let-down and sorry for the tired, distraught protesters in and outside of Tahrir square – and then the absurd hilarity sunk in.
Millions of people had heckled him for over 2 weeks, and this man was so adamantly trying to hold onto the presidency, like a stubborn cat clinging with its claws for dear life to the new plush couch you’re trying to extricate it from. He was repeatedly told by these same people, in no uncertain terms, to get the hell out. He chose instead to patronize the protesters and dig in his heels. It was hard to tell whether he was being obstinate or delusional, but either way, it was starting to seem really, really pathetic.
I had no idea that not two weeks later, Muammar Gaddafi would make Mubarak look downright lucid.
As the revolution in Egypt played out a few weeks ago, leaders in several Arab nations knew full well that what had befallen Ben Ali and Mubarak was coming for them, and they began hastily announcing intentions to implement constitutional reforms and made a big show of house-cleaning with respect to parliamentary groups. Were many of their actions insincere? Sure, but at least they had the good grace to make half-assed gestures to show that they were wetting their pants. Still, regimes in Yemen and Bahrain haven’t learned their lessons, and are apparently using the same type of brute force and making empty promises of concessions. Gaddafi is apparently even more narcissistic and delusional (not breaking news, but it has to be said).
Dear Mr. Gaddafi:
1. Did you not pay attention to the preceding events in Tunisia and Egypt? You still think this can end well for your regime? K – let me know how that works out for you.
2. Do you think that it’s wise to pull the exact same intimidation and scare tactics as your deposed peers and make so many of the same ludicrous statements about how what is happening is pretty much everyone’s doing but your own? I’m waiting for you to announce that your neighbor’s cat, who is the leader of some mystical league of evil, has had it in for you for years, and that Rumpelstiltskin is the one who has provided all of the “drugs” that pro-democracy demonstrators are allegedly on.
3. Not everyone likes or agrees with everything I stand for either. However, I won’t be making any public, shrieky announcements about sending mercenaries to hunt them down and kill them for daring to speak against me. Seriously, how are you not sitting in front of a war crimes tribunal yet?
4. “I have not yet ordered the use of force, not yet ordered one bullet to be fired … when I do, everything will burn.” Wow. That’s some love you have for your country. So your position is pretty much, “If you won’t let me play, I’m breaking all of the toys so that no one can play“? Good plan. I’m stumped as to why these people want you to rot in purgatory.
5. And dude, what was up with that Feb 22nd speech that lasted decades and seemed to take place on the set of an extremely low-budget movie? Or was that supposed to be your audition reel to appear in a Saturday Night Live sketch?
Ah, dictators. As repugnant as they are, their behavior during this wave of revolts will provide comedy gold right through 2011. Lorne Michaels, I would like to get in on writing those sketches, please!
Somewhere in a darkened room, Hosni Mubarak is reclining on a chaise longue, pouting and sipping a stiff drink. He watches the antics of the Libyan leader on television and tells his wife he is grateful, at least, that someone is making more of an ass of himself than Mubarak did while the world was watching him. Meanwhile elsewhere, Muammar Gaddafi is hanging out in the blown-out ruins of some building that may or may not be his former residence which was bombed in the eighties, swatting at imaginary flies around his head, and pasting cut-out images of eyes all over what’s left of the walls, like Drew Barrymore’s character did in Mad Love.
Okay, so that’s all I have so far, but really, it’s just a matter of waiting out the rest of the revolution. Remember how you were able to stage hilarious Sarah Palin skits by just having Tina Fey repeat Palin’s speeches word-for-word? I’m telling you, Lorne, it’s in the bag. Call me.