Sam Haselby writes:
How does the revolution in Egypt compare with the American Revolution? There is no comparison. It is more impressive and more important. So far.
In the United States, the American Revolution is sacred history. As a result, Americans tend to associate its slogans and symbols with the whole concept of revolution. If the peculiarities of this habit help prevent Americans from recognising the significance of events in Egypt, both countries will pay a price.
For the leaders of the American Revolution, colonial North America had been a place of social mobility and prosperity. In a European context, the American patriots belonged to the minor gentry class.
No European society allowed members of the minor gentry the prominent roles in political life that the British colonies had offered Americans. When they rebelled against Great Britain, over taxes and in the name of freedom, they were the freest and least taxed people in the western world.
As to the much-noted hypocrisy of slaveholders rebelling in the name of freedom, the English writer Samuel Johnson gave the line for the ages, when he asked, “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?”
In contrast, the people of Egypt for decades lived under a cruel military dictatorship. The Mubarak regime almost destroyed a once vibrant Egyptian middle class. The Mubarak family, according to recent reports, accumulated as much as $70bn worth of assets, held mostly in foreign banks and real estate. In contrast to the free and prosperous American revolutionaries, Egyptian resistance broke out from an impoverished and oppressed people.