“You Have to Fight for Your Freedom”

Last night, a woman in Libya risked her life, called CNN’s Anderson Cooper, and pleaded for help.

The Big Picture

It’s impossible not to hear about the protests that are currently sweeping the Middle East and Africa. Libya in particular has the news pundits talking up a storm.

Reuters: The UN Security Council has already called on Libya for an immediate end to violence against protestors.

There are many good reasons: the country’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, ordered a harsh government crackdown on protesters that has cost countless lives; Gaddafi has a reputation for outlandish, even “crazy” conduct, as Anderson put it last night; and while the United States does not import much oil from Libya, a high percentage of oil travels through the country to reach its shores.

“A Cry in the Night”

Yesterday in Libya, Gaddafi’s son went on television to say that things are fine in Tripoli. “Life is normal.”

Life is normal.

“But the problem is, you go outside, they’re going to shoot you. This is not protest. You cannot protest. I wish we can protest. We cannot protest … This is not protest. This is massacre,” reported the unidentified woman.

Does that seem normal to you?

The woman reports that she has been trapped in her house for five days and dare not leave for fear of losing her life.

And she begs for action; she knows that real action is the only way to stop the killing. “How much more watching? How [many] more people dying?” she asks.

What “real action” any of us can take is impossible to pinpoint. As Anderson acknowledged, we all feel helpless listening to or reading these stories of strife. But one commentator, Eugene Robinson, said that President Obama should release more hard-lined rhetoric. He noted, ironically, how many supporters of the Middle East and African protests are quoting Obama’s speech from Cairo in 2009 that called for a relationship of tolerance and understanding between and within the Muslim world and with the United States.

Change in the Winds?

There are recent reports that a NATO meeting today will discuss taking action against Libya. Possibly on the table: making Libya a no-fly zone and freezing the assets of the Gaddafi family. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will also be at a meeting of the UN human rights council later today to define its role in stopping the violence.

There are also news stories trickling in that the rebel groups fighting the Gaddafi forces have taken control of the east and are garnering strength. While we don’t wish for a civil war, perhaps this will encourage him to step down.

So as we go about our lives today, let’s all hope that these actions are not only taken, but that they also make a difference. May all Libyans and protestors from around the world fighting for their rights have the courage of the woman who spoke to Anderson.

“You have to fight for your freedom,” she acknowledged. Let’s hope her remarkable courage is not in vain.

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