The Spectacle Blog

Egyptian Tea?

By on 2.9.11 | 5:00PM

Instead of answering Jim Antle's eminently reasonable question as to how the United States should support liberal democratic principles and modernizing institutions in Egypt, John Guardiano takes the easy way out.

Now it seems that criticizing anti-Semitic behavior of Egyptian protesters is akin to accusing Tea Party activists of racism. Guardiano writes:

Indeed, the Left discovers within the Tea Party movement a few wholly unrepresentative instances of questionable racial rhetoric and racially-tinged signs; and it declares that the Tea Party is racist and animated by a hatred of black people. This is not true, of course, as anyone familiar with the Tea Party movement knows.

Yet Guardiano seems to step back from his assertion scarcely three paragraphs later:

Now, the analogy is inexact because anti-Semitism is, in fact, widespread in Egypt and the Middle East. By contrast, in America -- and certainly within the Tea Party movement -- racism has been marginalized.

Not only is Guardiano's analogy inexact, it's downright specious. He's comparing apples with zucchini. As I have noted here previously, 95% of Egyptians questioned in a 2009 Pew Research Survey have a negative attitude towards Jews and Israel. Anti-Semitism is such a powerful force in Egyptian life (and indeed throughout much of the Arab and Muslim world) that it cannot be swept under the rug. Guardiano is more than welcome to check out its prevalence.

Let's put it this way. If one were to display an anti-Semitic sign in public in Egypt it would not be cause for ostracism. Rather it would be an expression of mainstream opinion. Yet if one were to display a racist sign in public in the United States that person is sure to be shunned and deservedly so. Outside of rape and murder, racism is the worst thing one can be accused of in the United States.

I don't deny for a moment that the Mubarak regime is authoritarian and does not have a great history of tolerating non-violent dissent. I don't deny for a moment that there are activists in Egypt who would like a Western style representative, secular democracy. But we also must not deny the Muslim Brotherhood is better organized than the secular forces in Egypt. And we also cannot deny that anti-Semitism is a significant force in Egypt and that force could be manifested into a regime prepared to find common cause with America's enemies (i.e. al Qaeda and Iran), end peace with Israel and go to war with the Jewish State. If the Obama Administration is hell bent on regime change in Egypt they had better damn well know what they will be getting after Mubarak is gone. Otherwise, America could pay a very heavy price.

It's all the more reason for John Guardiano to tell us how the United States can help Egyptian democracy activists not aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood to articulate liberal democratic principles and build modern institutions in their country. I am eager to hear his suggestions.

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