Another Perspective

Dreambusters: The Fuel That Ignites Riots

On Egypt, Glenn Beck got it all wrong this time.

By 2.10.11

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On Egypt, Glenn Beck, a guy who normally gets it right when it comes to recognizing the anti-business activities of government, got it all wrong this time in connecting the dots.

It was a shish kebab vendor and a fruit huckster who started the dominoes falling all over the Middle East.

Both set themselves ablaze, one igniting a popular uprising in mid-December that overthrew Tunisia's autocratic president, while the other, in an apparent copycat of the suicide of the young Tunisian, set himself on fire outside the parliament building in central Cairo.

Neither man was protesting about Israel or the U.S. role in the Middle East. Both were mom-and-pop vendors driven over the edge by government dreambusters -- by regulatory zealots, heavy-handed tax collectors and bribe solicitors who were out to grab every last bit of money out of the wallets of their nation's small-business owners and struggling entrepreneurs.

Instead, what Glenn Beck saw behind the uprisings were Barack Obama's old friends Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, both former leaders in the Weather Underground.

"Ayers and Dohrn participated in the Weather Underground's 1969 'Days of Rage' in Chicago," said Beck, excitedly, on a recent show. "Last Friday's (Jan. 28) rioting in Egypt was also called 'Days of Rage.' It is telling that the protests Friday in Egypt were dubbed by the Muslim Brotherhood, a 'day of rage.'"

Beck also played a tape revealing that the words "social justice" have popped up in the rhetoric of anti-Mubarak protesters, exactly mirroring the way Weather Undergrounders and pro-totalitarian leftists talk in America.

Anti-Mubarak protesters also carried "Yes We Can, Too" signs, copying Obama's campaign slogan.

Mr. Beck's bottom line? "This is Saul Alinsky. This is STORM (Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement) from Van Jones," both directly linked to President Obama. "This is the story of everyone who has ever plotted to or wanted to fundamentally change or destroy the Western way of life. We've shown you tonight that Hamas, Code Pink -- the feminist anti-war group -- and the Muslim Brotherhood are all linked together."

In fact, the insurrections were sparked by governments crawling with money-grubbing dreambusters.

"Mohamed Bouazizi was a 26-year-old university graduate without a steady job," reported Hadeel Al-Shalchi at the Associated Press. "He struggled to make ends meet for his widowed mother, four brothers and three sisters."

Unable to find work, Bouazizi "would fill up a rickety wooden cart with fruits and vegetables and wheel it into the town market. His relatives said he was harassed by municipal officials for not having a license to sell vegetables. When he didn't pay bribes, town authorities broke up his cart and stopped him from selling his wares."

His family said "a municipal official hit him, spat in his face and called him filthy," explained Al-Shalchi. "In despair, he stood on his vegetable cart, poured a liter and a half of gas on his body and set it on fire."

He died two weeks later. "The insults and humiliation from municipal authorities became too much," said his mother. "How was he supposed to pay bribes and keep his family fed?"

Several days after Bouazizi's death, apparently inspired by events in Tunisia, a 40-year-old restaurant owner set himself on fire in Cairo. He was angry, reported security forces, about government policies that restricted restaurant owners from buying and reselling bread.

A week later, anti-government demonstrations brought several thousand people to the streets of Cairo.

It's what America's Founders declared: There is a "duty" to "throw off" a government that sends "swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance."

 

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About the Author
Ralph R. Reiland is the B. Kenneth Simon professor of free enterprise and an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.