A video grab shows Saif al-Islam, son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, speaking during an address on state television in Tripoli

Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam addressed the public via state TV, speaking about a “plot against Libya” led by Islamists. He also said most protesters were drunk and/or high and that the death count had been grossly exaggerated.

Neon Tommy

Although I’ve been watching things intently, I don’t have much to say on the current spat of uprisings in the Middle East – I’d love to show up and do my usual “Rah Rah, Technology!” bit, but it’s tough to be enthused when people are being gunned down in the street.

However, I did want to briefly discuss Saif Qaddafi, son of Muammar, long considered the most liberal aspect of the Libyan dictatorship.

(Which, frankly, is something like saying “the friendliest of the rabid bears”.)

Look at the picture above – a still from a recent television address regarding the protests.

If the people gathering in the squares, signs in hand, are the young and bright seeking a better tomorrow, than Saif, in every aspect, appears to be a middle-management drone, who’s come to tell us we’ll need to work next Saturday, for our own good. To me, he rings of that fellow you know who goes on at length about entrepreneurship, but has never run a successful business.

I find this interesting in two ways:

  1. Despite their stated positions, and the fact that a large portion of their platform is founded on cultural defense from the West, media penetration has gone so deep that there still seems to be a hankering for apparel that wouldn’t look out of place on Mad Men.
  2. If we’re going to project our own desire for change, and a hope for a brighter future, onto the protests – if we’re going to say “they are us” – then we need to expand our consideration beyond just the scrappy underdogs we’re rooting for, and consider just how many of “them” are “us”, and which of “us” they are.