On offensive appropriations of the Arab Spring

It had to happen. No major world event can go untouched by politicians and pundits who try to appropriate to push their own preconceived notions and ideologies.

One I recently came across was during a conference call in which Bob Zoellick, the head of the World Bank, described Mohammed Bouazizi as "a private entrepreneur who found himself fighting government red tape." I couldn't believe someone can be so callous in appropriating the self-immolation of a young man to push his agenda of boosting private entreprise, but it turns out this is part of his latest stump speech. On April 6 Zoellick gave a speech about MENA in which he recast the tragedy as one of lack of free markets rather than lack of rights:

But then also, what’s important to keep in mind, all of it doesn’t have to be done by the government.  And here’s the sharpest reminder, you know, the– the– the fruit and vegetable seller– Bouazizi in– in Tunisia that head all this off, what was his complaint?

His complaint was he just wanted to be able to sell fruit and vegetables but he was bein’ harassed because of licensing and red tape.  This is important because particularly in many developing countries where you have what’s called a large informal market, so it’s not the– the formal business employment system, if you stymie entrepreneurialism, if you stymie small businesses, you’re really hurting that type of entrepreneur, many of whom are women I might add.

You stay classy, Bob.