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Uploaded:2011-01-31
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In which John discusses the Egyptian protests, which may become a burgeoning revolution in Egypt or may just descend into rioting and looting. Included in the discussion are Egypt's dictator and/or president Hosni Mubarak, the Tunisian protests, the fight for representative democracy, the presence of the Egyptian army, and so on.

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A Bunny
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Nerdfighters in Pittsburgh: GOOD MORNING, HANK. IT'S MONDAY!

So Hank, that's a lot of Nerdfighters, and this is Hosni Mubarak. That's called a transition, Hank. It's a skill of professional writers.

Hank, Mubarak may or may not be a Nerdfighter. Although, I suspect he isn't because he doesn't seem to love the Internet, But he is the 82-year-old dictator of Egypt. And as you may of hear on the news, his 30-year rule is in peril, and lots of Nerdfighters have asked me to make a video of Egypt, so I'm gonna.

Okay, so Egypt is a Northern African nation of 80 million people. Primary language: Arabic. 90% Muslim. 10% Christian. It used to be kind center the of the world, then it was part of a bunch of Empires. Let's just skip ahead to 1979.

Okay, so it's 1979, and the president of Egypt, Anwar al-Sadat, signs a peace treaty with Israel, thereby establishing Egypt, at least in the mind of the west, as a kind of politically and militaristically moderate Arab state.

Two years later, in 1981, Anwar al-Sadat is assassinated by Islamists. His vice president, Hosni Mubarak, gets shot in the hand but survives. So congratulations Hosni, you get to be president of Egypt!

That was the first time he survived an assassination attempt. Mubarak has since survived five more assassination attempts, which is the kind of thing that could make you super super paranoid and, in fact, has made him super super paranoid.

Anyway, despite the considerable dangers of the gig, Hosni Mubarak seems to really like being president of Egypt because his three main political positions are:

Number 1: I, Hosni Mubarak, should be the president of Egypt.

Number 2: There should be no freedom of press and no Islamic political parties, in fact, no political parties at all, really because I, Hosni Mubarak, should remain the president of Egypt.

And number 3: People who disagree with number 1 or number 2 should go to jail.

In fact, Hank, even before all these protests started in the last week, there were more than 10,000 political prisoners in jail in Egypt, which is a lot but like a drop in the bucket compared to China, and we're not exactly fomenting revolution in China right now, unless you define fomenting as purchasing and revolution as iPods.

So everybody's always been kinda friends with him, both in the Arab world and in the West. Everybody's like, "Ah! It's Mubarak. He could be worse."

But then in beginning of 2011, Egypt's neighbor Tunisia suddenly and unexpectedly got rid of their dictator. And after seeing what happened in Tunisia, people in Egypt were like "Hey! I'm pissed off too! I'm pissed off about not having freedom of speech and about the secret police and about rising food prices." Remember the French Revolution, Hank? Rising food prices! I'm telling you Hank, if you ever become a dictator, keep your eye on the price of food.

So on January 25, 2011, people hit the streets. Now initially, the police, which are often seen as a force of terror in Egypt, were attacking protesters and throwing them in jail and torturing them, and then Mubarak resorts to all the typical old-fashioned dictator stuff, like turning off all the phones and turning off the internet, and none of it really worked. So finally, Mubarak played his last card. He sent the army out onto the streets of Cairo, which totally backfired.

It backfired because all male Egyptians have to serve some time in the army, so the army is seen as an extension of the citizenry. And that's why you see all these protesters climbing on top of tanks, and shaking hands with the guys inside the tanks, and, like, scrawling anti-Mubarak graffiti on Mubarak's tanks. And it looks like Mubarak is going to have to make his graceful exit, and that is when the hard work will begin. There's a lot of romance in revolution, Hank. We all know this, right?

I can't help myself. I love a good revolution. I love men and women standing up to authority, risking their lives for their country. But that's exactly what happened in the French Revolution, which ended up being a "massiva disastro". That's not French. In fact Hank, it must be noted that revolution does not have a particularly good track record.

So Hank, right now, the story of Egypt's political situation is really shiny and interesting, that's why we're all paying attention to it. And in a few months it won't be so shiny. There will be something new shinny, hopefully the invention of puppy-sized elephants. And I will name him Louis and teach him to poop outside, and he and Willy will play together in the snow, and it will be so beau... Were we talking about something? Egypt, right.

So hopefully Egypt will make the difficult transition to a real democracy, and the way that we can support that is to continue to pay attention to their story, even when it's not so shiny anymore.

Okay, so thank you for listening to me talk about Egypt. As a reward, I will do a question Tuesday on Friday. Please leave your questions and comments. Baby's crying, so I gotta go. Hank, I'll see you on Wednesday.