Category: October 4

Change at the Palm of our Hands

What’s more fearful than a man with no political allegiances and access to millions of your citizens? To corrupt governments other than nuclear arms, nothing. Khalid Albaih encapsulates the way of the future for many activist around the world. Where once newspapers and television were the mediums to sensor and control through money, social media is a platform that is difficult to manage without overt censorship and as such is the meeting place for views that governments constantly try to stifle. Particularly in the Arab Spring, platforms like Facebook and Twitter were firestorms for the likes of the Egyptian government because events and posts would pop up without warning and be views by millions before the government could have it removed. Unlike a piece of paper of television broadcasting, the power of the internet is that without a direct blocking of global signals or global websites it’s almost next to impossible to stop people from posting what they like. Khalid knew this and other activist knew this and they all used their knowledge to their advantage.

In Khalid’s experiences he understood that the success of using social media derived from the fact that this platform was the only true and honest source of information left in the public sphere. There was a sense of immediacy and pressure that arose with this use as if it was the only way. In that he articulated the difference in the United States is that we still have faith in other platforms. That is half of us wants to believe in the information we receive from the government, cnn, the new york times, and our representatives. Khalid asserted that this is a privilege, and for him, everyone, and their mother knew that no public source of information was credible in Sudan or in North Africa because they were all controlled by the government and money. However, in this problem of legitimacy also was this problem of saturation and quality. With the use of social media in places where their is no legitimacy elsewhere, places like Facebook have become awash with tid bits of information that are supposed to educate, excite, and produce action, but how are revolutionaries supposed to acquire and hold that attention. While social media is the last free outlet to produce information, how do you assert yourself in a sea of frankly bullshit. With over 500 million people joining Facebook in the last four years, Khalid and other activist of the Arab Spring are trying to continue their fire but amidst a large and less active crowd.

Overall, Khalid conveyed how the difference in social justice movements here versus movements back in the Sudan, North African, and the Middle East is that theirs are done in a last ditch effort. That is they are done as if there is nothing left because doing that action can be life or death. For Khalid, social media wasn’t just an evolution in spreading news to inform people, but it was a revolution in enacting change.


The Internet- Should we be worried?

Sometimes I get worried when I think about the internet and everything that I post on it. Everything that I put out there is truly a permanent record that I hardly realize the extent of. Every post, every picture, every comment is forever out there on the internet. A simple delete does not suffice to erase the record of it. You have to be conscious and careful about what you put out there. Even simple blog post like these are permanent record of our opinions and feelings at the time. If someone was to search my name, these posts could potentially be pulled up and be used to create a view of me. That can be a scary thought because I have the potential of saying something that I don’t mean as I usually write these posts in an hour and rarely proofread them.  This is one of the great drawbacks that comes with the use of the internet.

On the other hand, the internet has some huge positives. It really does connect us to each other in the great global network. We can go places that we never went before through connecting with people on many platforms. One of these platforms is facebook. Facebook is so much more than social media at this point. For example, during the Arab Spring facebook was used for protests and organization. Facebook may have even been the cause of the uprisings. The Egyptian revolution may very well have been caused by social media, especially facebook for several reasons. Facebook used the internet to spread the word around about what was going on in Egypt and needed to be brought to the attention of people in order to unite the people against the government. Videos of injustice and killings were posted. People were able to say what they wanted to get the word out there and make their opinion public. People were able to unify and protest through organized events on facebook. It is a controversial topic and some experts may disagree, but it is widely argued that the Egyptian Revolution did indeed start on facebook.

Something that is currently going on on facebook is protests of the Keystone XL pipeline as proposed pipeline that runs across america. This is being widely protested for many reasons. One of these problems is the idea that the pipeline poses many environmental hazards. The Keystone XL pipelines completely goes against the idea that we need to stop our dependency on fossil fuels. It is the symbol linked with the current climate change we can see all around us and need to stop rather than continue to add to. A current movement that is happening on facebook is the checking in of people at Standing Rock, ND. This is in solidarity with the people that are protesting the pipeline and putting their lives at risk to protect their land. Who knows if this will actually be able to work in the way that it did for the Arab Spring, but it is worth the try.

The Perfect Political Revolutionary: Khalid Albaih and How Revolutions can Actually Work

One month into being on a college campus, and I can already tell that one of the trendiest topics in higher education these days is the Arab Spring. I’m sure that played a role in the arts and humanities theme for the year here being literally “revolutions”, and it’s no doubt the reason why the fellow at the Oak Institute played a key role. I should start again. I’m not writing a declamation of this, rather I’m giving props to Colby and higher education for recognizing that the “Arab Spring” was important, for one, and really just outright cool to study.

Of course I find it cool to study though. Me, who owns a sizable vinyl collection in which is included a few sex pistols and clash records, whose roommate proudly hangs a poster depicting the famous “black power” salute at the 1966 Mexico City Summer Olympics, and who attended multiple Bernie Sanders rallies this spring, finds a real life political revolutionary in Khalid Albaih. He’s just so cool. I think Khalid is living the dream of every angsty teenager whose complained about how bad their lunch food is at the local high school. He’s an artist, who is not self-righteous but is righteous, his art is poignant and looks at the worst situations in the world with cock-eyed honesty. What I actually admire about him though, is his ability to keep his head level.

His part in the Arab Spring revolution can’t be understated. Art is the means to the end of political revolution. That’s why the 60’s in America can be defined by a series of Bob Dylan protest songs. Khalid knows this is his role in the chaos that spread across the middle east in 2011. He doesn’t necessarily boast about it, or recognize it explicitly. Rather, he shows the true face of revolution, he is able to say that yes, that cartoon pissed off the dictator of Egypt, but that’s what I was looking to do cause he pisses me off. Only, he would say it way more articulately. Through this intention, this conscious knowing of purpose, Khalid is the epitome of what a good political revolutionary looks like. He is Therou’s Civil Disobedience, Martain Luther King Jr.’s sermons put into action, and his results are impressive.

That is then what all sixty of us enrolled in the continuing revolutions course learned from observing him in conversation. That the role of revolutionary is not filled by people who are clear in intent and ruthless in action for their goals, but articulate, talented, and above all smart people, who act only on the notion that they know what they want is right. That’s what Khalid was teaching us by his conversation, that if want to change the world start by being smart, and being creative.