Longtime Collectivist Dr. Mohja Kahf writes:

Dear friends,

I and my family, and many of my students, and those of my colleagues here and elsewhere– of whatever background Arab or not–who work in Arab world studies, are glued to the news. More so by the day, by the hour.

We appear to be witnessing—maybe, maybe—a historic moment in the Arab world the like of which has not happened in our lifetimes, and for which it has always, quite firmly and unquestionably, seemed to most reasonable people that there would be no hope even to the end of the lifetimes of our grandchildren, at the very, very least. The entire shape of the world there is changing, has changed already, in ways we never imagined we would live to see. At my home, we are gripped. We can barely get work done, slash, we are getting work done with giant blasts of energy–both are true. Events are unfolding hourly, in at least a dozen countries. Are we witnessing at long last the beginnings—the glimmers— of the grass-roots overthrow of dictators who have ruled the Arab world for several lifetimes? The beginnings, in some of these places, of accountable government with checks on its power? It looks—do I dare say it—almost like a clean and legitimate YES, for Tunisia. Which is enough to blow my mind. Egypt is teetering—but which way will it go, crackdown or stepdown? Libya, Algeria, Jordan, my land of birth Syria, Yeman, Sudan—who knows. Yet whatever the outcomes, it is something, what is happening, it is S.O.M.E.T.H.I.N.G. I am way too cautious and cynical to feel joy. There are no magic beans. And this is only a beginning. But I do feel utter amazement. I’m writing just by way of fyi. I may be in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and very far away from being able to go out to show solidarity at an Egyptian or Syrian embassy (I don’t think there is a Syrian embassy on the Square, alas), but I’m thinking that people where I live should know what this feels like. And our shire is part of the greater world too—we are all [ok fill in something here yourselves that doesn’t sound like a 1985 song by pop artists fighting world hunger! any more words are beyond me, and I don’t want to slide into clichés].

So if you see one of us, and we spontaneously hug you, or burst into poetry or tears, just so you know, for some of us right now, these are intense, incredible, world-altering days.

Mohja Kahf

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