Pharaoh is gone. But where’s Dr. Hawass?

February 11, 2011 (The New York Times)

It’s a monumental day in Egypt — and a wake-up call for autocrats everywhere.

But, what happens now to Zahi Hawass, the National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence who doubled-down on a dictator?

Former Egyptian President Mubarak; Dr. Zahi Hawass

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Dear John,

As the people of Egypt celebrate, and then buckle down to build a democracy, will National Geographic help or hinder their struggle?

(From left) Editor of National Geographic Chris Johns, Executive Vice President of National Geographic Terence Adamson, Emirati Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak al-Nahayan, Editor of National Geographic Al-Arabiya Mohammed al-Hammadi (Photo: AFP)

We now publish National Geographic in Arabic, which means we can share our Society’s message with people in Egypt and in 14 other countries across the Middle East and North Africa. It’s a big microphone. What will you do with it?

Will you publish more stories, facilitated by Dr. Hawass, about the glories of Pharaoh? (Hawass is an official adviser to NGM’s Arabic edition.) Or will you emphasize our society’s — and our Society’s — democratic heritage? Will you tell Chris Johns that it’s time to cut back on those Pharaoh & cheetah stories, and beef up our coverage of  Thomas Jefferson & James Madison… and the heroes of Tahrir Square?

Yes, it’s true, our “Arabic partners” in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Libya — and our “partners” in the People’s Republic of China — don’t want such stories circulating among their people. But that’s what leadership is all about: Taking a stand. Doing the right thing. Living a story that you’ll be proud to tell your grandchildren.

How much longer will you remain silent, especially after Dr. Hawass, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, formally doubled-down on a dictator who has just been overthrown by… well, by the people who might buy your magazine?

NO NEW POSTS will be published here after February 6, 2014. THIS IS WHY.