This morning I was having a little wedge of Vache Qui Rit with my breakfast when I noticed how outrageous that cow is. There’s no such thing as a red cow, is there? So why did they make it that way? Along with those horns, and a
head that is just anthropomorphic enough, it looks pretty diabolical. And the way that it’s laughing but looking askance, it’s as though its evil plans are playing out just as expected. If you could see its hooves, I’m sure they’d be tented. Who thought we should start our days with that?
Then I just learned that “vache qui rit” is a nickname for Hosni Mubarak, and I saw this picture in Jeune Afrique, identifiable by his padlock earrings.
So diabolical pop imagery has its uses. But for breakfast?
I can’t go this far without pivoting a bit to the topic of revolution-mawkishness in general. This whole jasmine revolution, and its echoes, have been so interesting and pretty exciting. You’d have to be a cold soul not to be rooting for the people in this one. But I paused when I came across this on Andrew Sullivan, quoting Huffington Post:
A Small Dose Of Perspective
Robert J. Elisberg tells the Tea Party “this is what an actual revolution looks like… A quarter-million people randomly taking to the streets. No one dressed up in funny costumes and hats.”
First, that’s wrong. The creation of the European Union has been a revolution, and — for better or worse — nobody ever bothered to take to the streets about it.
(And plenty of funny hats have been donned in the process.) Second: fuck man, don’t tempt the devil! I’m fucking relieved that that the Tea Partiers have been content to try and achieve their goals through reform rather than revolution. Where did this “real men take to the streets” mentality come from? Oh, right, from television.
Revolution sucks, man, and don’t let Twitter tell you different. I’ve had my share of weapons pointed at me, but the most frightened I’ve ever been — and I was petrified — was when I stumbled across a mob with political grievances. The volatility was instantly palpable and it was terrifying. The Egyptians gotta do what the Egyptians gotta do, but I don’t wish revolution on anyone.
This sentiment makes me feel very sober and old and lawyerly. (Great quote from Harlan County, USA, a documentary about violent labor struggles in Kentucky in the 1970s, spoken by a miner when someone suggests calling a lawyer for help modifying an injunction: “There’s no way, I mean, that you can win a strike with six pickets. So you gotta violate these injunctions. Lawyers are made to get you out of trouble after you get in, not to get you out of trouble before you get in.”) You can feel the friction that “calmer heads” with similar notions are applying to the process of change in Egypt.
But I’m still wary of cheerleading a very dangerous activity for which I am not accountable. There are no Lincoln Brigades; doing humanitarian field work felt like an approximation of that kind of commitment, but really it isn’t the same thing in any meaningful way. There is a synthesis, I’m sure — a space where it’s possible to support and get inspiration from people ‘doing what they gotta do’, but which doesn’t boil down to the sort of facile armchair solidarity practiced by the Irish diaspora in the 1980s. A way to be William Kunstler without being William Kunstler at Attica.
What, you don’t know about William Kunstler? Get thee to a Netflix!
Previously, on Hard Consonant:
- Just because you're depressed doesn't mean that things aren't depressing
- UTOPIA, one way or another
- The Enlightenment will not be App'd, tho' the revolution might be
- It's all about who you know: lawyering, the dreadful social science
- Mil-to-mil relations and the Age of Aquarius: the Egyptian military and the popular revolution