“Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.” – Winston Churchill
The news was grim from Syria this week. Dozens were killed, including two children, during security force clashes with protesters. “We do not want your bread,” the people chanted in their marches. “We want dignity.”
Daily, the news continues from throughout the Middle East. The reports, the photos, and videos are all similar in their horrible splendor.
In Egypt this week, after last month’s topple of 30-year President Mubarik, the police burned the Egyptian Interior Ministry building, a long-hated symbol of repression. In Jordan, hundreds of Jordanians set up protest camps demanding broader freedoms and the ouster of the Prime Minister. In Yemen, white-collar professionals and students alike demanded the ouster of their President. In Libya, multi-national government forces are are stepping in to protect the Libyan rebels from attacks by their own government’s troops.
Throughout the Mideast protests and revolutions continue as more people in more countries step forth. Spurred on by the internet, and by long-lived oppression, everyday folk are raising their fists and voices in defiance. “We want dignity.”
In the mid-20th century, the United States government spoke often of the Domino Theory. This was the era of Communism and the Cold War. On news shows, in books, magazines, and news articles, reporters, writers, and talking heads speculated. If one country fell to Communism, the next country would fall, then the next, and the next. This Domino Theory was used to justify the war in South Vietnam and America’s intervention in other governments. North Vietnam was a Communist country. We could not allow South Vietnam to follow.
This year, the news from the Middle East has been volatile. Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Oman, Morocco, Libya, Kuwait, Syria . . . the dictators, like dominoes, are falling. But they are not falling to Communism. They are falling instead to the innate desire for free speech, and the freedom to live a more meaningful life. It is a reverse sort of Domino Theory.
I write historical romance. I believe in the importance of studying history, and of happily-ever-after endings. May the people who live in the lands surrounding the Mediterranean experience such an ending. By raising their arms in protest they have already found dignity. May they find freedom as well. ∞