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The Progressive

Mubarak’s Thuggery Was OK Off Camera

This is the Hosni Mubarak that the United States has been lavishly supporting for 30 years now.

This isn’t new. We in the U.S. are just seeing it for ourselves for the first time.

Mubarak’s thugs riding in on horses and camels, with their whips in hand.

Mubarak’s thugs surrounding journalists and pummeling them.

Mubarak’s thugs kicking punching and kicking pro-democracy forces.

Mubarak’s thugs hurling Molotov cocktails at unarmed pro-democracy forces.

Mubarak’s thugs speeding in a van and clipping down protesters.

Mubarak's thugs rounding up reporters, including from The Washington Post and The New York Times. (For a full list, see http://abcworldnews)

Mubarak’s thugs rounding up human rights workers, including from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

But Egyptians have known all along who the real Mubarak was.

If they dared to dissent, they knew they’d likely be put in prison.

If they dared to protest in the streets before, they knew they’d get rounded up and maybe tortured.

You can turn to any country report from Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International over the last decade or two and find descriptions of the terrible record.

Here’s Amnesty’s: “The most pressing human rights concerns that Amnesty International has documented are the use of emergency legislation to arrest and detain people without charge or trial; the widespread use of torture and other ill-treatment; grossly unfair trials of civilians before military and emergency courts; restrictions on the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly; the rise in death sentences; a lack of legal provisions and other measures to protect women from domestic violence; legal and other discrimination against members of religious and ethnic minorities; arrests and prosecutions of people for their actual or alleged sexual orientation; and the maltreatment of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants, including through the use of excessive, including lethal force.”

This is the dictator the United States has been underwriting to the tune of almost $2 billion a year for the past three decades.

And his dictatorial dealings were essentially OK with Washington so long as they were off camera and so long as they didn’t threaten to discredit the U.S. or render the puppet useless. Now the puppet is off the string and flailing about, more dangerous than ever.

Yet there are too many pro-democracy protesters not just in Tahrir Square but all across Egypt. And they have lost their fear.

Mubarak’s thugs can’t brutalize them all. And so he will lose, and so the people of Egypt will win—by sheer numbers and by sheer courage.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

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Matthew Rothschild

Matthew Rothschild

Matthew Rothschild is senior editor of The Progressive magazine.

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