Some countries become familiar to us because of their political unrest, or their potential for hurting the vital interests of the US. Some we hear about because they produce nice products of some sort. Some because they are scenic vacation spots. Some because they produce good athletes. Still others because they have unique flora and fauna.
But until the last few days, Tunisia was not even on my radar screen. It was just a place on a map: "Oh yeah, Tunisia -- it's capital is Tunis, right?" (OK, I admit, I just looked that up.)
I'd never even heard of Ben Ali. From what I've read recently, the country is better off without him. Evidently he's been a corrupt dictator for well on twenty years now. And what's happened over the past week is a wonderful example of a peaceful revolution.
But the whole thing is a good example of how the media controls the discussion. If they don't want to mention something, it simply doesn't enter our consciousness. And I don't even blame them for this particular omission: as bad as Ben Ali was, there are others who are worse, in powerful countries with more potential for damage to our interests.
In any case, there is so much else to occupy us that our attention will be distracted by other places and people. And that's just the way our minds work.
At least it's the way mine does. Not once in the past twenty years did it ever occur to me, gee, I never hear about Tunisia these days. I wonder how things are going there.