Monday, August 29, 2011

Brass Balls

The world sometimes seems like a very tragic place.

The ones that always get to me are displays of crazy levels of bravery in the pursuit of noble, yet ultimately futile, causes. If there is ever a sense of man fighting righteously against an uncaring and hostile universe, this is it.

Khaled al-Johani turned up at the site of a planned protest against the Saudi Arabian government. Authorities had gotten word of it, and the place was crawling with policemen, but nary a protester around.

It goes without saying, dear reader, that the Saudi Arabian government, full of kleptocratic thugs, takes a dim view of protests. Just ask interior ministry spokesman, General Mansour Sultan al-Turki:
"Saudis…do not have anything to demonstrate for. The Grand Mufti has talked about this and [protesting] is un-Islamic behaviour."
Khaled turned up, alone, to speak to the media about the oppression in his country. Watch below to see some huge brass balls in action.

It's clear from his actions that he knew he was going to be arrested and thrown in prison.

He was. All the way back in March. He's still there, and I wouldn't advise you to hold your breath waiting for him to be released.

It's also pretty clear from his actions that he knew that this was not going to actually achieve any difference in how the country is governed. Saudi Arabia will remain a corrupt hellhole, kept afloat by oil money bribery, thuggish secret police, and double-dealing with radical Islam.

And indeed, it looks like it's going to stay that way.

Saudi Arabia is a long way from 17th Century England, but Mr al-Johani would not be an unfamiliar figure to John Milton:
Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.
But this is only half the tragedy.

The other half of the tragedy is that even in the rare cases when tyrants get deposed, it is far from clear that what replaces them will not, in fact, be as bad or worse.

 From the Washington Post:
A few minutes’ drive from the fire station, at least 15 bodies, most of them Gaddafi’s black African supporters, lay rotting in the sun at a traffic junction outside his Bab al-Aziziyah complex. ...
 But not all of them looked like ordinary battlefield deaths. Two dead men lay face down on the grass, their hands bound behind their backs with plastic cuffs....
The worst treatment of Gaddafi loyalists appeared to be reserved for anyone with black skin, whether they hailed from southern Libya or from other African countries. ...
But many of the detainees in Zawiyah told Amnesty International they were merely migrant workers “taken at gunpoint from their homes, workplaces and the street on account of their skin color,” Eltahawy said.
The vast majority of the Khaled al-Johanis of this world will never get to live in a country as free as the one that you and I take daily for granted.

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