Supporting protestors is supporting democracy

Story by Monica Baltich

Since last Tuesday, the riots in Cairo have been on minds and television sets around the world. The media bombard us with updates on the protests and we hear about the feelings of the mistreated Egyptian people who are sick of their poverty and what they hope to accomplish. All I can say about the overwhelming amount of information is, FINALLY!

Sadly, I often feel that many Americans don’t pay attention to the world, what with our mentality that if it’s not happening to us it’s not important.

OK, so that’s over-generalizing, but in my experience dealing with people and especially in my major, which is journalism, I find people caring less and less, and it seems to take a lot for people to wake up and pay attention.

Now, I am the product of a military family so I’ve had the opportunity to travel to and live in many countries around the world and experience numerous cultures. I was fortunate, this past winter break, to travel to Egypt on a family vacation and my aim was, of course to see the pyramids and ride a camel. Stereotypical, I know.

But what I saw as we drove through Alexandria and into Cairo rattled me.

I’ve seen poor countries before, but it was nothing like this. Garbage in the streets, young children selling scarves and trinkets on the side of highways to tourists, men fishing in polluted and trash-filled canals, dogs and cats running loose in the streets; unemployment, poverty and struggle were palpable. So when I heard about the protests my first thought was, “It’s about time.”

After 30 years of democracy in name alone, the Egyptians were compelled to action. Is there anything more inspiring than a people uniting to stand up for rights well-deserved, and knowing they are right to demand them?

To those who are only concerned with the rise in oil prices due to the conflict, shut up and support the call for democracy. There, I said it. After all, we claim democracy to be the cornerstone for
America’s success, right?

I don’t claim to be knowledgeable in all things political or think that America needs to stick its proverbial nose into every country’s business, but, like it or not, America is being looked at. I swear, every cry for democracy is like the Bat Signal for the U.S., and every time we are compelled to answer.

I understand there  are many factors that play into our allegiance with Egypt and how involved we get. I’m glad Obama has made it known that we support the move for democracy and revolution, without Mubarak in the picture.

I’m sure it is much tougher than we are aware, we only know what’s going on by what they show in the news. But from where I sit in front of my TV, I feel like the answer is simple. Back democracy, and back the people in the streets fighting for it. If we support them now they will remain our allies and we will be upholding what we eat, drink, live and fight for every day as Americans.