Thursday, October 24, 2013

Death toll at Rabba ... what would it have been in USA?

Death Toll

Death .. the end of life, the loss of loved ones, the longing, despair and suffering ..a  sense of abandonment, incompleteness in every respect. I don’t belittle death, nor do I take joy in the death of those I differ with, or oppose. The death on the streets of Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt makes me sad, period and full stop, no ands, ifs or buts, enough bloodshed!

This is how I feel about the deaths at Rabba, the horrible loss of life,  I would now like to explore a sensitive topic, from a detached and admittedly non-feeling, non-emotional view point, just a cold factual look at events. And that is: what would the death toll had been, had the Rabba sit-in  taken place in the USA, not in Egypt?

Back in the early 1980’s when I first moved to the US, while driving, I was pulled over for over-speeding by the California Highway Patrol, it was my first ever interaction with US Law Enforcement types. The police car lights appeared in my rear view mirror, followed by the loud police siren, I slowed down, not sure what to do. Then I heard a loud speaker instructing me to pull over and stop, which I did. I then opened the car door, to get out and speak to the cop; I had thought that was the polite thing to do, the policeman shouted a warning “get back in the car or I below your head off” … I got back in the car and the policeman came to my window, he instructed that I must keep my hands on the stirring wheel where he can see them, I complied.

My experience after that was actually a pleasant one, I did not get a ticket, just a warning, the police man explained to me that opening the door was a serious mistake, seen as threatening, either running away or confrontation and that he would have had the right to shoot me. Future episodes of over-speeding never resulted in further death threats but almost always resulted in fines. 

I have been reflecting over the death toll at Rabba, and wondering how events would have unfolded, had the sit-in been in California or Massachusetts and ignoring the reasons behind the actual sit-in and why it occurred in the first place. Had the sit in just happened, what would the authorities, legitimate or not, isn’t important; assume even they were alien occupation authorities, what would have happened?   In the USA, first and foremost, the focus of the police force, coming in to disburse a protest ,would be their own safety, the safety of the policemen themselves. This clearly was not the case in Egypt, where the lives of the conscripts is viewed as cheap. I can never see a scenario where a US police force would have allowed, over 100 of its own, to die ,to end a protest that they were instructed to disburse, never!! Show me something similar in the history of the US!

What that means is that the level of violence used by an American police force would have been much higher. We then move on to the issue of the huge number of innocent peaceful unarmed civilians, who were part of Rabba. Here we come to a number of obvious topics; first the incitement and the language of violence used by the leaders of Rabba; while there was talk of peacefulness, there was talk of blood and fighting. Second we come to the barricades and the massive amounts of stones gathered by some of the protesters to “protect” themselves. These two points alone constitute a violent sit-in, without getting into the debates of did the protesters have Molotov cocktail bottles, machine guns and rifles or not. I have heard, in person as recently as this week, testimonies from residents of Rabba of barrages of shots being fired at the police, but let’s ignore all of this and  just assume it was thevideo by MB own news agency designed to intimidate ordinary people shouting out  “strength, determination, belief” and the barricaded entrances and huge mounts of ammunition of rocks and stones …. what would an American police force have done?

My belief is that an American police force would have given warnings for the protesters to leave, asked the residents to evacuate the area, and then would have moved with a very high level of deadly force that minimizes the risk to their own. I believe the sit in would have probably been wiped out in a relatively short period of time with the death toll being well into the thousands if not the tens of thousands.

I visited the sit-in of Occupy in Washington DC and spent almost an entire evening inside the Occupy Boston protest, I toured the entire Occupy Boston site and talked to many people including some of its leaders. I did not see a single rock, not a single barricade and of course no weapons and we are talking America the land of weapons! Afterwords I chatted with a Boston policewoman who was standing just outside the protest observing it, the police had every right to go in and out of the camp if they needed. Occupy was a peaceful protest in every respect, when it was disbursed, it was peaceful, even the disobedience was peaceful. Rabba was a different deal all together, it never was peaceful, even though many of the people in it, were unarmed and peaceful!

The leaders of Rabba did not care about using the lives of their people to achieve a political goal and in the process hundreds lost their lives; the Egyptian Police, equally did not, sufficiently, care for the lives of their own conscripts, for political purposes and in the process, also over a hundred law enforcement personnel were killed, that should never have been killed, because they had no choice whereas the Rabba protesters, were their under their own will! 
This is a tough topic, because with death, the decent thing to do, is simply blame the authorities and demand justice, but where is the justice for the poor conscripts!!

October 24, 2013

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