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Kashmeri: Split Image

02/17/11 5:55PM By Sarwar Kashmeri
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(HOST) Commentator Sarwar Kashmeri has been thinking about the split image of America that was on display during the Egyptian revolution.

(KASHMERI) The first Saturday in May is Green-Up day in Vermont. A popular event in which people of all ages and professions, in a sign of solidarity, join in to clean Vermont's roads and byways of a year's accumulation of trash.

So too the protesters in Egypt declared their own clean-up day last week. Young and old, men and women, doctors and engineers joined in to clean up the mess they had generated during their days of largely peaceful rage.  A revolution in which the victors clean up the mess they generate, now there's a revolution for the history books.
 
Of all the many powerful images to come out of Cairo in the last few days, two affected me the most.

One was TV coverage of those revolutionaries cleaning up Tahrir square. With brooms and garbage bags, huge smiles, "V" for victory signs, colorful tattoos on their faces, they cleaned up the debris left by hundreds of thousands of their fellow protesters over 18 days. Debris from a revolution that changed Egypt forever, and has the potential to reshape the Middle-East, and perhaps the world.

The other image that affected me powerfully was actually a split-image. Reflecting two sides of America that competed for attention on Tahrir Square.
 
On one side of the split-screen were Google, Twitter, and Facebook. American inventions all, that jump-started the protests by electronically connecting 80 million Egyptians to each other, and to the world. This was an image of an America that inspires the world with its ingenuity, the shining city on the hill.
 
On the other side of the split-screen, however, one saw a different America. All the weaponry on Tahrir square - the tanks, armored personnel carriers, rifles, tear gas canisters, they too were all made in America. Symbols of a country, that did what it had to do, and supported Mr. Mubarak and his brutal dictatorship for 30 years.
So how does one reconcile those two images.? Thankfully, the Egyptians did it for us, by making sure there were virtually no anti-American signs in this revolution.

By this act, a sophisticated people with a 4000 year history, wanted, I believe, to send a message. They are looking ahead, not backwards. They wish not to dwell on American support for the regime that was, they would much rather look ahead to America's support for what may yet be.

Through skillful diplomacy, America now finds itself on the right side of history in Egypt. This time we need to make sure we stay there.
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