Saturday, 19 February 2011

turning the guns on their own

in Bahrain, after several days of protests, live fire has been used against the people.  In Libya now, over 80 dead as the same thing happens.  In Bahrain the king offers talks with the opposition, the people are not impressed.  In Libya there seems not to be any opposition, such as there was went into exile long ago.  This is, increasingly, 1989 in Europe.  The Arab dictators have had their day.  The people will not stand for it any longer.  In Egypt and in Tunisia this did not happen.  The people were not fired upon, and ultimately the dictators had to go.  Gaddafi (left, much less fanciable than he used to be) has seen this, as have the rulers in Algeria, Yemen and probably elsewhere.  A friend has just come back from holiday in Morocco, and when asked if anything was happening there said "Absolutely not.  The place is a police state." True enough.  And what happens in those countries does not tend to kick off, or be visible, in the resort areas.  I have always rather fancied a holiday in Libya myself, maybe I will go sooner than I expected to.  In the meantime, Muammar, stop killing your people.  There are more of them than there are of  you and your cohorts.

When I was young we used to try and visit the places with leadership we approved of.  We would not have dreamed of going to apartheid South Africa for instance.  Though we would go to the USSR, which was considered cool, but that is another story.  But in those days more than half of Europe was under dictatorship, including Spain, Portugal and Greece.  Most of Latin America too.  The fascists had the best weather, as we used to say.  In those days travel was in real terms much more expensive more difficult and thus less accessible to ordinary people.  I did not leave the UK untilI was 16, and then to Spain, and I spent the summer in Germany when I was 17 - for someone from my background I was considered well travelled.  My own children are 29 and 34 and have travelled much more than that, but it never occurred to me to send them for language summers in their teens, as is very often done now (I know, I have taught them),  We know the world these days, because we have visited it.  Or so we think.  I have had holidays in both Tunisia and Egypt, but the young men I see in the streets here in France, whose parents came from Tunisia but who themselves have never left France, know far more than I do.  Which of us has the clearer perspective?


dreamingspire said...

Your reticence about travel across Europe (30 years ago?) surprises me. OK, my mates and I didn't go to Spain or Portugal or Greece, but carefully planned travel across the rest of nearby Europe and to further away places such as Italy was easy and not that expensive as long as one went prepared - camping was what we did in 63, from north west UK, as far down as Rome, and we did have use of a car - it was easy to get hold of a directory of municipal camp sites, and we didn't have any disasters. Others did it by coach: stopping in the middle of France at a roadside cafe for a cooling drink one afternoon, we were soon joined by a coach load of Brummies who said how nice it was to meet some English people - so, yes, there were not many English about on le continent in September. Languages? We spoke only a modicum of schoolboy French and a little German (and Latin O Level helped with understanding Italian) - no problem.

Jane Griffiths said...

well I only meant that not many went anywhere in those days

Anonymous said...

As long as the oil keeps flowing, most of us (quite rightly) couldn't give a monkey's cuss and have more important things to worry about.

Jane Griffiths said...

Anon 1234 - I wish your attitude surprised me, but sadly it does not, I have encountered it too often before, what are these "more important things, pray tell?"

Anonymous said...

Oh, you know the kind of stuff that occupies the little people who aren't sucking on the Euro-teat : paying taxes ; finding enough money to treat the kids occasionally ; keeping warm ; the price of petrol. That kind of stuff.

Libya, Schmibya.

And by the way you misplaced the quote mark there.