The stray winds of the Internet brought to my desk the following piece by Rex Murphy. It doesn’t add much (anything) new to the debate, but it does offer a rather neat digest of a pseudo-liberal argument; the argument used by conservative commentators who enjoy applauding distant Middle Easterners fighting to find a voice, but quickly get cold feet when the same struggle erupts a little closer to home.
Serious protests, involving grave issues, with real risks and real moral purpose, are going on all over the world. They match life-and-death risk with the value of what is at stake: the human rights of citizens suffering under dictatorial governments. We can only hope that the eyes of the demonstrators in Syria don’t get the news of the tantrum going on in democratic Quebec… What’s going on in Quebec is not a protest. It’s a parody of one: the future elite of Quebec having a self-indulgent fit… Let’s just hope that no one in Syria has been paying attention.
Look: It doesn’t matter that in Cairo the original rallying flag was protesting a dictatorship, in Montreal – tuition fees and in Tel Aviv, originally, rent. Quebec, Wall Street, London, Tel Aviv, Madrid, Cairo, Tunisia, Syria, Bahrain are all part of the same Spring, because in all those cases multitudes of people are realising that it’s not that they are apolitical, but that the political system in their countries is inadequate at safeguarding and expressing their interests. That each system is geared primarily to preserve the status quo, and that status quo no longer tolerable, and needs to and can be overthrown. So someone sneeringly comparing “future elites having a self-indulgent fit” to the Brave Egyptians or the Fearless Syrians isn’t supporting the Arab Revolution. He’s merely revealing what side he is really on, and, whatever plaudits he pays revolutions happening at a safe distance, what side he would probably be in any other place the Spring has visited: The side of the status quo.