Toward Balance in History

By William Markiewicz

In the last democratic election in Egypt, the majority voted for Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood for President. He promised moderation and the people believed him. In a short space of time, the majority of people who opposed Muslim excesses realised that Morsi had fooled them and he was heading toward a rigid Islamic state. What ‘Islamic state’ means we can see in practice; people condemned to death for changing religion, severely punished for not observing religious rules, women killed or imprisoned for being raped and little girls shot in the head because they wanted a school for girls. If my memory is good, it was the fundamentalist Morsi who started shooting first. When the Military made their coup, the world, which up to then had criticised Egypt’s growing fundamentalism, started to defend the imprisoned Morsi, urging that he be returned to office in the name of legality. Suddenly legality became more important than freedom.

A personal anecdote: years ago when I took the train from Spain to France, I saw piles of garbage stretched out for miles along the barbed wire that separated the train tracks from various localities along the route. I asked the other passengers: “What is this?” they replied that the Gypsies camped there and threw their garbage over the fence onto railroad property. The railroad demanded that the neighbourhood authorities clean the garbage and they replied that since it was on railroad property it wasn’t their responsibility. So nobody cleaned and the stench grew. I said, why not burn it? And everybody, with one voice said, “Burn it – and the gypsies with it.” I was horrified – why not oblige the Gypsies to clean up after themselves? The passengers were vehement: “Nobody interferes with the Gypsies’ freedom!” so the same people who, five minutes before were ready to burn the Gypsies, became ardent defenders of Gypsy freedom. Surely each of us knows how inconsistent to the extreme people can be. Plato – too human to be a snob – wanted people to be focussed on what they are the most qualified to do. Therefore he saw them divided into ‘classes.’ He also wanted the most powerful to be familiar with the most humble crafts. This lesson in modesty deters peoples’ pompous statements on topics they know very little about.

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