Twitter, the newfound joy of my life, taught me a lot during Egypt’s second revolution last weekend. There is just something about knowing news before CNN breaks it. About watching a conflict unfold in real time thousands of miles away and in 140-character briefs. What I learned from Twitter is that Egypt had a revolution, not a coup d’etat. So don’t let the American media convince you otherwise.
The mechanisms that pushed Egypt into protest are not a simple as:
1. Mohamed Morsi was elected
2. Egyptians decided they didn’t like him.
3. The Egyptian military deposed Morsi aka Coup D’Etat!! aka WTF where are the elections??!! aka Egyptians hate democracy
That word democracy is what has gotten America’s panties in a bunch. In technical terms democracy is casting a vote. It's Congress. It is equal representation and a rarely-changing constitution. And that's how we like to think about the system.
But let's not sugarcoat the mess we live in. Gridlock is the new legislative process. Big Money buys votes. Twenty school children can be massacred in Connecticut and still Congress will refuse to implement stricter gun laws. Yet Americans won't rebel against a government that refuses to govern because democracy — as we practice it — is not reactive. We grumble about corruption and mismanagement and then cast another vote anyway. Complacency has become our civic responsibility.
But the Egyptians decided to actually engage in their political process. During the protests, I sifted through many Egyptian tweeters searching for their opinion. My favorite tweeter, Shoukry (@Shoukrylive), is a musician who tends to tweet and retweet great quotes nonstop. The last day of the protests, these showed up on his feed:
You see then, coup d'etat is our word, our version of Eygpt's events. I spent hours on Shoukry's feed, sometimes moving on to others, but always coming back. And each tweeter said the same thing: The Egyptian people deserve the credit for forcing Morsi out. The Egyptian military only responded to the people's demand for democracy.
What CNN and its counterparts are not explaining is Mohammed Morsi's short, yet vivid presidency. In June 2012, he won the election by a 3% margin. By November, Morsi decreed that he would assume vast judicial powers above any court. (He rescinded the decision after widespread protest.) Unemployment remained high, electricity and fuel shortages rampant. And meanwhile Morsi drafted a constitution that discriminated against religious minorities. The Muslim Brotherhood took Egypt by the reins, attempting to build the theocracy they have always wanted.
The word coup d'etat menializes a beautiful show of human resistance, by deeming it a barbaric seizure of power. Why must only the ballot box legitimize popular opinion? And why must citizens wait years to un-elect the political filth that festers in our legislature?
Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt http://bit.ly/1a0aTGa
Egyptians did what we don't have the guts to do. So modern America, let's not menialize their revolution just because we'll never have ours. This was not a coup d'etat. The people have spoken.