The Spectacle Blog

Egypt, Islam, Barbarism & Democracy

By on 2.17.11 | 5:50PM

What can I make of John Guardiano's latest salvo? Allow me to illustrate:

So it is simply inaccurate to try and indict Muslims and Islam for the attack on, and abuse of, Logan. Indeed, if Logan's assailants were "Muslims," then the Nazis were "Christians."

Nonetheless, Goldstein is determined, it seems, to find fault with the Egyptian people and with Islam. Thus he complains that I offer "no evidence" to show that the (sic) Egypt's pro-democracy protesters were, in fact, peaceful.

First, the idea that I am trying and indicting Muslims and Islam for the attack on Lara Logan is just daft. The religious background of Logan's assailants wasn't an issue until Guardiano made it one. My only response to his assertion was if Logan's assailants weren't Muslim one could also argue the people responsible for the September 11th attacks weren't Muslim either and indeed some people have.

Second, Guardiano asserts that I complain that he offered "no evidence to show that Egypt's pro-democracy protesters were, in fact, peaceful." I made no such argument. What I objected to was Guardiano not offering evidence to support his assertion that pro-Mubarak forces supplied anti-Semitic signs and were responsible for the attack on Logan. Guardiano can hide behind The New York Times to his heart's content. But neither Nick Kristoff nor Tom Friedman has claimed the anti-Semitic signs were produced and disseminated by pro-Mubarak forces as Guardiano has suggested. And at this point there's simply no evidence to support Guardiano's claim pro-Mubarak forces attacked Logan. I just wish Guardiano would refrain from making outrageous claims he either cannot or will not back up.

Third, at the risk of stating the obvious, Guardiano and I simply view the events in Egypt differently. Indeed, Guardiano has also taken Jim Antle, Jed Babbin and Ben Stein to task for their views on Egypt as well. Guardiano clearly views the events in Egypt as a watershed moment in Middle East history and no doubt they are. After all, if anyone had said on January 1, 2011 that Hosni Mubarak would be out of office in six weeks we would have looked at that person with a rather quizzical look. The difference is that Guardiano sees Egypt turning over a new leaf while I and others look at things more skeptically:

In short, liberal democracy gives people the opportunity to expose and discredit anti-Semitism and other bigotry. So although Egypt and the Middle East may be regressive in key respects now, they need not remain regressive forever and ever. Social progress, in fact, is a hallmark of liberal democracy.

Yet what does a secular liberal like Ayman Nour chose to talk about following his announcement that he will run for the Egyptian presidency? That the Camp David Accords with Israel are dead. If anti-Semitism isn't a strong force in Egyptian society then why would Nour bother raising Camp David in the first place? Because it will get him votes and in the grand scheme of things getting votes is more important to Nour than utilizing democracy to expose and discredit anti-Semitism and other bigotry. But if a secular liberal like Nour won't avail himself of the opportunity democracy gives to expose and discredit anti-Semitism and other bigotry then who will? Surely not the Muslim Brotherhood.

But let me put the possibility of Egypt rescinding the peace treaty with Israel and going to war with the Jewish State to the side for now. A few years ago, I criticized Dinesh D'Souza for calling Hamas and Hezbollah "champions of democracy." Well, it's easy to be in favor of democracy when you win an election or otherwise gain power. But it's not so easy to be in favor of democracy when you lose an election or otherwise lose power. One of the hallmarks of democracy is the peaceful transition of power from one party to another. Can anyone see the Muslim Brotherhood willingly relinquish power especially to a Coptic, secular or female head of state?

Clearly, Hosni Mubarak wore out his welcome with the Egyptian people. His time has come and gone. But it is far from a foregone conclusion things will get better for the Egyptian people. It would also be foolish for me and others to ignore the broader implications a post-Mubarak Egypt could have for the Middle East region and, of course, the national security of the United States. It will likely be years before we have a clear picture of life under a post-Mubarak Egypt. While future events in Egypt could persuade me to view things in a different light at the moment I am simply not encouraged by what has thus far transpired.

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