The countless commentaries on Egypt sometimes include talk of “restoring democracy” or “returning to rule of law” and “human rights.” But such comments beg the question: how can you restore something that never existed before? Did Egypt conduct free elections before Mubarak – under Nasser, or King Farouk, the Ottoman Sultans, or the Pharaohs? In 5,000 years of recorded Egyptian history, there wasn’t a year, or even a day, that people enjoyed human rights as Americans understand them. This sad truth suggests two crucial conclusions. First, policy makers shouldn’t expect or demand that Egyptians go from millennia of oppression to utopian self-government in an instant. Second, Americans should use the occasion to recall the unusual, remarkable, utterly exceptional nature of our own 235 year experiment in ordered liberty—a record unparalleled in all of human history.