Saturday, December 19, 2015

No Trigger Warning Required

Dateline Cairo. After a public cabinet meeting today, the Egyptian Minister of Public Works, Mahmud Nomeh, announced that work would begin to dismantle the Great Pyramid of Giza, the long-standing symbol of slavery and oppression.

The pyramid, which was built some 4,500 years ago and stands just outside the city of Cairo, has been a target of demonstrations by thousands of unemployed archaeology students. Demonstrators have been demanding changes since the overthrow of the Mubarak government in 2011.  While the Mubarak government supported the Antiquities Department (and the tourist dollars it generated), under the present regime, tourism has all but stopped in the desert nation.

"The time surely comes when Justice must and will be heard," Director Nomeh told the press as he announced the monuments removal. "People of Egypt, that day is today. The Pharaohs, you see, were on the wrong side of history and humanity."

The decision did not come lightly:  it followed months of public shouting matches, penned op-eds and rhetorical firefights on social media that enveloped Nomeh’s request in June that the pyramid be discarded as a vestige of Cairo’s racist past.  Nomeh, who is widely believed to have future political plans, has been the most vocal in leading a movement to clean up the country’s troubled history.

"We, the people of Cairo, have the power and we have the right to correct these historical wrongs," Nomeh said following the meeting.  “The people of today’s Egypt have a right to a living history, to an organic history that evolves to meet the needs of a present generation--one that is not fixed in stone and that is not an insult to the daily lives of every working Egyptian today.”

The demolition of the pyramid is expected to take 23 years, with completion scheduled for the fall of 2039.  “We plan,” explained Nomeh, “to do the work in stages.  Each year, during the time the agricultural season is over, we will employ as many as 30,000 people to work in dismantling this affront to the people of Egypt.”

Egypt is suffering from a chronic unemployment problem.  While the overall unemployment hovers around 13% per year, for the youth of Egypt (those workers under the age of 29), unemployment is 26%, with over half of the nation’s youth living below the poverty line.  This seasonal employment, of roughly six months a year, would coincide with the time it is most difficult for unemployed workers to find new jobs.

If successful, this program of deconstruction could solve the chronic unemployment problem.  Nomeh explained, “In total, there are over 100 pyramids in this country, each a symbol of oppression and racism.  Each of these is an affront to the sensibilities of people descended from those slaves.”

In all, over 6,000,000 tons of stones would have to be moved from the thirteen acre site to an abandoned quarry at Tura, located just outside the present-day city of Cairo.  It has been estimated that slightly more than 2.3 million blocks would have to be shifted.  Due to a shortage of heavy machinery, much of the work will have to be done by hand.

The decision to demolish the Great Pyramid of Giza has been met with some opposition.   It was an emotional meeting, often interrupted by heckling, and infused with references to slavery, lynching, and racism, as well as with the pleas of those who opposed removing the pyramid to not "rewrite history."

Nomeh summed up the tug-of-war that has spanned the last few months of debate, saying that most of the opposition seemed to believe that now was not the right time to be debating monuments.

"We can argue that the timing was not good, but when would it ever be?  Let us do it now for our children, and our children's children," he said.

Leading a vocal minority that called for retaining the last surviving monument from the original Seven Wonders of the World, the former Director of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, proclaimed, “The people who built the pyramids were not slaves, they were paid wages for their work.”

This claim was dismissed by those who said, “While the workers might have been paid wages, the pay was insufficient and cooperation was forced, effectively making them wage slaves.”

Nomeh called the vote a symbolic severing of an "umbilical cord" tying the city to the offensive “legacy of the Pharaohs and the era blasphemy to Allah.”

Note.  None of this is true, of course.  (Well, almost none of it, anyway). Few of the statements in quotes above are actually my own writing--most of them were lifted verbatim from press reports discussing the planned removal of Confederate statues from New Orleans, and a few nouns were changed.  For example, statue became "pyramid", God became "Allah", and Louisiana became "Egypt".   The photo of the meeting shows Mayor Landrieu (who has announced plans to run for the Senate), following the meeting that voted to spend millions of dollars to remove statues from a city that has not yet repaired all the schools damaged by Hurricane Katrina.  Most of the facts concerning the pyramid are true, but Mahmud Hemon (Nomeh) was the architect who built the pyramid, not tore it down.
Horrifyingly, the passage about a 'living, organic history' that evolves to fit the needs of present day people was taken verbatim from a televised press conference.   If this sounds reasonable to you, consider driving across Los Angeles during the rush hour while traffic laws evolve to fit the needs of the drivers who honk their horns the loudest.
Sadly, the statistics for unemployment in Egypt are factual, and by a rather strange coincidence, are also fairly accurate for Black men in New Orleans.  Perhaps that should be Mayor Landrieu’s first priority.


  1. You should be censored and fired. I count MANY micro aggressions towards Egyptians, Louisianans, youth, agriculture workers, pharaohs, and architects. Think how many Butterfly Snowflake students you have irreparably harmed! Shame!

  2. Do you realize that three dozen precious snowflakes melted while I was reading this. You, my friend, are committing global warming. You are hereby sentenced to buy $10,000 worth of carbon credits from Al Gore for your blasphemy. He will be sending you an invoice shortly as he already knows. This is, in fact, what he invented the Internet for.