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Comparing Wisconsin with Egypt

Yesterday, John Steele Gordon noted that the protests in the Middle East and in Madison all carry great significance, but beyond that there are few similarities between them.

But that hasn’t stopped activists and a very sympathetic media from trying to make cloddish comparisons between the Wisconsin rallies and the Egyptian uprising. From the beginning of the demonstrations, union supporters have labeled Gov. Scott Walker a “mini-Mubarak” and carried signs with Walker’s image next to a photo of the ousted Egyptian dictator. A Washington Post column even described him as “Wisconsin’s pharaoh.”

These analogies have increased over the past few days after one particularly enterprising pizza restaurant in Madison began accepting donations from out-of-state individuals who want to send pizza pies to the protesters. According to the restaurant, donations have come from all over the world, including Egypt. And that piece of information was all the media needed to hear in order to start crowing about the “solidarity” between the Egyptians and the union activists in Wisconsin.

“In an act of intercontinental solidarity, an Egyptian has ordered a pizza for Wisconsin protesters,” reported Slate.

“How do you go about showing your solidarity with protesters on the other side of the world?” asked Time magazine. “Making sure they are well fueled, of course.

According to Politico, a local pizza joint, Ian’s on State Street, has been inundated with phone calls from all over the country and around the world — including one caller from been-there, done-that Cairo — who are concerned with getting food to the union supporters who have gathered at the Capitol. “Someone in Egypt has been paying attention to what’s happening in Madison and wanted to send a message of solidarity from across the globe — so they ordered a pizza.”

Of course, it’s entirely ridiculous to compare the protesters in Cairo — many of whom put their physical safety by attending the demonstrations – with the disgruntled Wisconsin union workers taking the day off from cushy government jobs to carry signs around the state capitol. These people don’t even have to worry about losing their jobs for attending the protest, let along their lives. Not to mention that they’re getting free pizza out of the deal.


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