The recent protest in Egypt sent shock waves around the world as evidenced by what is happening today in the Middle East and what is happening in Wisconsin. The people protesting in Madison were empowered and emboldened by the courage of those who marched, shed blood, and occasionally died, in Tahrir Square. These young people were all prepared to lay down their lives for freedom and for their rights as humans.
The Tea Party Republican governor of Wisconsin is the local equivalent of Hosni Mubarak in that his radical approach to the common man and his cavalier attitude toward the unions that spoke for them is not dissimilar.
I would hope that there is some mechanism, and there must be, for forcing Walker to step down. This man is dangerous and certainly doesn’t belong in a position of trust and responsibility. Then again, he still has his supporters. Many of them are counter-protesting in Madison, and many of them are just being quiet.
No doubt what is happening in Wisconsin is being carefully watched by the radical governors of other states, such as Rick Scott of Florida who has already threatened to diminish or do away with the state’s very solvent retirement fund. He should be careful however because the cops and the firefighters are part of that group.
Here is the story from The New Republic:
One of the most under reported stories about the pro-democracy movement in Egypt was the role of labor unions in the demonstrations, many of which were protesting against neoliberal right-wing economic policies just as much as they were protesting against the Mubarak dictatorship. During the uprising in that country, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka praised the role of organized labor, saying, “The people’s movement for democracy in Egypt and the role unions are playing for freedom and worker rights inspires us and will not be forgotten.”
Now, as tens of thousands of union members and other Wisconsin residents are taking to the streets to protest against Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) attempt to abolish collective bargaining rights for most public workers, a leader of Egypt’s largest umbrella group of independent labor unions is praising the Wisconsin movement. In a videotaped statement, Kamal Abbas, the General Coordinator of the Centre for Trade Unions and Workers Services, tells the Wisconsin protesters, “We stand with you as you stood with us.” He says “no one believed” that the revolution against the Mubarak regime would succeed, yet they were able to bring the dictator down within 18 days. He encourages demonstrators to stay strong, saying, “Don’t give up on your rights. Victory always belongs to the people who stand firm and demand their just rights”:
I am speaking to you from a place very close to Tahrir Square in Cairo, “Liberation Square”, which was the heart of the Revolution in Egypt. This is the place were many of our youth paid with their lives and blood in the struggle for our just rights. From this place, I want you to know that we stand with you as you stood with us. […]
No one believed that our revolution could succeed against the strongest dictatorship in the region. But in 18 days the revolution achieved the victory of the people. When the working class of Egypt joined the revolution on 9 and 10 February, the dictatorship was doomed and the victory of the people became inevitable. We want you to know that we stand on your side. Stand firm and don’t waiver. Don’t give up on your rights. Victory always belongs to the people who stand firm and demand their just rights.
Last week, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) said there are “similarities” between the movements in Egypt and Wisconsin, in that “that people are wanting to be heard, and they are taking direct action.” Additionally, Ian’s on State Street, a pizza place near the Wisconsin capitol building, has been taking orders from Egypt for Wisconsin activists. While the actions that Walker and Mubarak are taking are far from directly analogous, many demonstrators have taken to drawing satirical comparisons. Following Walker’s threat to call in the National Guard to deal with a labor strike, activists launched the site Mini Mubarak, humorously comparing the governor’s threat to the actions of the now-resigned Egyptian autocrat.
In conclusion heroes of Wisconsin, and all others who wish to protect their freedoms and their civil rights, fight the good fight, but exercise civil disobedience in a “civil” manner. No need to bleed, and falling on one’s sword is not a wise thing to do. Let me know what you think.