As I was just about to leave the house this morning, I heard the breaking news on the AP hourly. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was going to address his people. The army was making statements that the demands of that nation’s pro-democracy movement were going to be met. Excitement was growing in Tahrir Square as the protesters believed the fruition of their movement was at hand. Hosni Mubarak was going to step down.
Well, we all know what happened. Mubarak was transfering power to his trusted Vice President, Omar Suleiman, but he was not leaving office, refusing the demands of the protesters. The AP and other newsmedia getting this story so wrong earlier was stunning, but not nearly as stunning as the news. Shock and anger spread through Tahrir Square, but not violence. Once again, the crowds remained non-violent. Somehow, these thousands of people, more than enough to unite into a fearsome mob kept their cool and stayed focused on taking the high road and maintaining the respect of people around the world.
It is truly inspiring. We don’t know what is going to happen or where the army is going to throw its loyalties. We don’t know if the peaceful protest will be enough, but we do know this.
For years, decades, we’ve feared democracy in the Middle East. We have feared the consequences of letting the “Arab Street” have its say because we Americans have allowed ourselves to be told that it’s a seething mass of Anti-Israel and Anti-American sentiment. But we know better now. We know that the Arab Street is full of people just like us. It’s filled with people who want peace and freedom and prosperity. It’s filled with people who love their spouses, parents and children. It’s filled with people willing to stand for their own right to self-governance.
We’ve feared this enemy for so long, yet here we are, looking into a sea of brown faces, faces we’re supposed to fear for all the ways they differ from us. But we don’t see a fearsome enemy. We look into the eyes of the people in Tahrir Square and we see ourselves.