Yet, many ideals that imbued the original January 25 uprising have yet to gain a wider purchase. Revolutionaries rightly mistrusted authority, including
that of the military. They rejected state propaganda that held divisions between secular and religious, Christian and Muslim, made Egypt ungovernable
except by a heavy hand. They trusted the public, the amorphous "people," to choose its own rules and write its own constitution, so long as everyone had a
seat at the table and the strong couldn't silence the weak. They espoused rights and due process for all, including accused criminals and thugs, even for
those who had tortured and repressed them. They forswore the paranoia and xenophobia with which the old regime had tarred as foreign agents Egypt's
admirable community of human rights defenders, election monitors, and community organizers.
And now, at a moment of both pride and shame, when the people rose up against an authoritarian if elected Muslim Brotherhood governance and unseated a
callous, incompetent president with the help of the military, the revolutionary ideas are drowning in a torrent of reactionary sentiment. "We want a
military man to rule us," a middle-aged woman with a bouffant hairdo exulted to me outside the presidential palace.
Yes, revolutionaries and common folk and apolitical Egyptians took to the streets on June 30, and again later in the week to celebrate Morsi's imprisonment
by the military. But they were joined, and perhaps overwhelmed in numbers, by the felool, the reactionaries. Families of soldiers and policemen
strolled among the protesters. Christians and proud members of the "sofa party," who had sat out every previous demonstration of the last two and a half
years, trumpeted their support for Mubarak, for his preferred successor, presidential runner up and retired General Ahmed Shafiq, and now, for military
rule. Whether the original revolutionaries wanted it or not, their latest revolution has the support of some of their worst, most persistent enemies: the
military and the police.
At the airport on Friday evening, a half-dozen uniformed police officers stood watching the Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide's speech, televised on a set
mounted at the Coffeeshop Company. The Supreme Guide called for supporters of Morsi to "bring him back bearing him on our necks, sacrifice our souls for
him." Within hours, that cry would result in thousands marching to Tahrir Square and engaging in a bloody, deadly and avoidable clash with opponents of the
As the Brotherhood leader spoke, the policemen laughed, while others looked on anxiously, mirroring the divisions within Egyptian society. Not everyone
hates the Islamists, and not everyone loves the police.
On TV, the camera panned over the shouting Brotherhood supporters a few miles away, mourning a protester just shot dead. At the airport, an officer with
three bars on his shoulder laughed. "Morsi's finished," he said, bringing his heel down and slowly savoring the crushing motion. "In two more days, the
Brotherhood will be finished too."
Beside him a stone-faced man winced.