The Herd Mentality East and West—Opportunists Grabbing for the Wheel
As the world watches the sudden unfolding of events in the Middle East, it is tempting to view the near-simultaneous collapse of corrupt national governments as phenomena of interest without embracing the responsibility we have in our own more-democratic countries to ensure that we are not doused with the same fuel and lit with the same torch. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the legitimate concerns boiling to the surface in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen have forced unexpected changes and will continue to shift the balances of power in ways that will affect generations yet to come. While the original issues sparking the riots were important, the spin-off issues of violent suppression, attempted media blackouts and the suspension of personal freedoms have produced a secondary explosion that cannot be ignored. This genie will not go back into its bottle.
Following a successful pattern already seen in past struggles in Iran, in Lebanon, in Gaza, the jackals that trail the pitiful mobs—now agitating, now disappearing—seem able always to manipulate the news for their own benefit. When there are injuries and fatalities, the cellphone-armed members of Hezbollah, the PLO and the Muslim Brotherhood are there, making sure that the atrocities are recorded and published around the world. As far as journalistic responsibility goes and freedom of the press, I acknowledge the importance of that role. The tragedy is that they have been able to use this information and the passion generated by it to garner unmerited favour and assume an unearned role of leadership for the future. The future of Egypt is not yet clear but a seamless and painless transition to a peaceful and prosperous democracy is anything but likely. Gun-toting, epithet-spouting demagogues are not going to surrender their prize easily to peace-loving civilians who just want freedom and security for their families.
In the West, we have not yet seen violent mobs in the streets of Washington and Ottawa, at least not in the numbers and intensity of those in Cairo. Pray God we never do. However, we have our own movements working through the slower but more acceptable channels of dissent. The "climate change chorus" is one mob, jostling cars and threatening to shut down development and progress or tax it out of existence. The "gay rights" lobby—or should we call it a "mobby"— comes close in some of the cities where it is strongest to the kind of intimidation and threats that mark societal breakdown in the mideast rallies-gone-bad. In recent years, while that movement has become more hostile and less tolerant, they've had precious little to protest, since the courts, the schools and enfeebled politicians have rolled out for them the red carpet, marched in their perverse parades and taken up their hobbyhorse causes of AIDS funding, same-sex marriage and anti-bullying campaigns.
Marching down the street to the latest rally, the movement has picked up students who want the government to pay for radical feminist courses, seasonal derelicts who think universal employment benefits are enshrined in the Charter (without the actual employment), low-level public servants who fear their bureaucratic positions could be threatened by any serious attempt to control the deficit and a myriad of other one-issue whiners who don't mind being herded together in large and controllable groups. All they lack is a leader who can focus their scattered energies to apply pressure to the government.
Never fear; the Muslim Brotherhood is here! While that may be literally true (and we will yet hear from that quarter), I am referring more specifically to the tribal chieftains of the NDP, the Liberals and the Bloc. Always ready to take credit for any positive change in government policy (read "destructive, fiscally irresponsible budget commitments"), ever on the alert with cellphones and media limelight to warn the public about dangerous government trends—some new evidence of old-fashioned family values, a respect for innocent human life or a reluctance to fully finance Al Gore's new world nightmare—these folks egregiously strut at the head of the column and call on all Canadians with an axe to grind to join them in their "moral" crusade.
It's a sad truism that the "information age" is also the "misinformation age". The access to tweets and texts has not rallied the populace to shared and realistic hopes and expectations. The ability to woo hearts and direct thoughts is not the sacred sinecure only of those who love the Truth. Others, whom the apostle Peter called "willfully ignorant", continue to say, "Don't confuse me with the facts". People who have chosen delusion are constantly grasping at speculative theories that back that decision. They are vulnerable to the speeches and predations of mouthy and self-filled politicians who tell them what they want to hear and promise them a godless utopia. Like the frightened and angry masses in Egypt, they will be disappointed when the mirage of the humanitarian oasis vanishes before their eyes and they find themselves in a grey and lifeless society, chained in bondage to false ideals and serving newly chosen dictators.
We who love the Truth have chosen a different course and may find ourselves—like those brave citizens in Egypt, who resisted the looters with their own bodies—standing outside the ruling class and outside the mob, pleading for sanity with chosen words and sacrificial deeds.