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NPR's coverage of the protests in Egypt. Columnist Gregory Rodriguez argues that Americans like to take credit for all revolutions, and suffer from "revolution envy." (NPR.org)

Are You A 'Revolution Voyeur'?

by Scott Cameron
Feb 7, 2011

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Scott Cameron

After two weeks, the protests in Egypt continue. Many Americans are glued to the news as protesters battle in the streets and President Mubarak promises to hang on to his seat until his term is up in September. L.A. Times columnist Gregory Rodriguez has a theory about why we're so interested in the evolving situation in Egypt — "self-congratulation."

Revolution is our provenance. We tend to view ourselves, with pride, as the founders of the modern democratic rebellion. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in the wake of the stirring (and admittedly problematic) French Revolution: "This ball of liberty ... is now so well in motion that it will roll round the globe, at least the enlightened part of it. For light & liberty go together. It is our glory that we first put it into motion."

In addition to the self-congratulation, one could also sense what might be called revolution envy. President Obama called the Egyptian demonstrators "an inspiration to the people around the world, including here in the United States." With our politics so mired in division and bitterness, I can't help but think Americans watching the roller-coaster events — especially the brave turnout in Tahrir Square — were on some level yearning for something to unify us, something to remind us of the excitement and joys of democracy.

You can read the full column at the Los Angeles Times site.

Are you a "revolution voyeur"? Does Gregory Rodriguez get it right?

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