âÄúThose who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, cannot long retain it,âÄù Abraham Lincoln once wrote. After last weekâÄôs editorial endorsing that the U.S. maintain a âÄúneutral demeanorâÄù in the Egyptian uprising, we should remember the words of the man whose birthday we co-honor this month. Though referencing slaveryâÄôs proponents then, LincolnâÄôs admonition serves today to remind us that we should never waver in fidelity to our highest ideals, lest perhaps we lose those blessings for ourselves.
The uprising in Egypt does require some nuanced understanding of culture and history at the least. But simply put, many of the fears bandied about in some circles are greatly exaggerated. Egypt circa 2011 is not Iran circa 1979. Viewing the demonstratorsâÄô words and actions, and not just through the narrow lenses of certain geopolitical special interests, shows this to be true.
Moreover, it has long been a false bargain: trading Egyptian freedoms for MubarakâÄôs so-called âÄústability.âÄù And lack of full support now for the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people would long be remembered and do more to undermine our interests later.
This month also happens to be the centennial anniversary of another presidentâÄôs birth: Ronald Reagan. Those who lionize him today, and who may also be clamoring for us to be tepid in our support of freedom for others, should remember this: Reagan told the Soviets to tear down their oppressive wall, not put up a screen door. We should be no less clear.
The repression of the military dictatorship that has ruled Egypt for six decades should end, and we should fully support that.