Two years ago the Egyptian city of Cairo, the largest city in the Arab world and the “timeless city” of Obama’s Cairo speech, the heart of the Arab Spring, was suffering from a garbage crisis. The crisis had a very simple cause, the pigs that used to eat the garbage were killed to prevent the spread of Swine Flu. The pigs living in “Garbage City” had served as both organic garbage disposals and food sources for the Zabaleen, families of marginalized Christian Copts who made a living by collecting the garbage, reselling the inorganic garbage and feeding the organic garbage to pigs. The system worked fine so long as there were pigs, but without the pigs, Cairo’s streets are filled with giant mounds of rotting garbage.
t might be shocking for most people to realize that the trash collection system for the largest city in the Arab world, the capital of what passes for Arab Muslim civilization, depended on a class of “untouchable” garbage collectors as young as eight years old, and their pigs to keep the city from drowning in its own garbage.
A system that is not simply medieval, but pre-medieval, that seems positively Bronze Age. But that is only because the Arab Muslim nations are not actually civilizations in the modern sense, they are post-colonized tribal clumpings with bits and pieces of borrowed governmental structures and technology that never quite work right. And underneath them is something far darker and more primitive, a miserably brutal and ruthless Levantine existence defined not by moral laws, but by tribal ones. And underneath them all are the pigs. Kill the pigs, and the system collapses
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