Aaron Goldstein obtusely misses the point of my last post. My point is this: Although the mob that savagely attacked Lara Logan may have professed the Muslim faith, their violent and heinous acts were not an expression of Islam. They were an expression of barbarism.
The vast majority of Egyptians, after all, are Muslims. And yet the vast majority of Egyptians did not, and do not, take to the streets to attack, beat and sexually violate women. Moreover, the Egyptian women and soldiers who saved Logan were themselves Muslims.
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 Egypt’s pro-democracy protesters were, in fact, peaceful.
Of course, I provided a very detailed sequence of events, backed up by two highly reputable New York Times reporters who were on the scene in Tahrir Square. And I easily could have cited a dozen other journalists who also were reporting from Cairo.
This sequence of events, and these firsthand reports from independent and credible journalists, all show that the Egyptian protests were peaceful in nature; and that the violence that did occur was perpetrated by pro-Mubarak thugs who were sent out to harass the protesters and the media.
Yet Goldstein discounts this evidence because… well, we don’t know why, exactly. All we know is that Goldstein seems eager to condemn the Egyptian people because anti-Semitism is commonplace in Egypt. His unstated assumption seems to be that Egyptian anti-Semitism, and not Egypt’s remarkable awakening, is the defining characteristic of Egyptian society.
By this same logic, anti-American bigots on the Left wrongly and falsely portray America as an irredeemably “racist country” because of our history of slavery and Jim Crow.
Now, anti-Semitism, sadly, has plagued much of human history throughout the globe. The question is: how do you combat anti-Semitism (and bigotry writ large)?
Do you combat bigotry and anti-Semitism by subjecting people to a tyrannical dictatorship, such as the Egyptians had under Mubarak? Or do you combat bigotry and anti-Semitism by democratizing Egypt, liberalizing Egyptian society, and allowing the Egyptian people to debate and discuss ideas and governmental policy?
The truth is that under Mubarak, anti-Semitism in Egypt not only flourished, it was, in fact, actively promoted and sponsored by the state. Egyptian television, for instance, regularly aired the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
This, unfortunately, is typically what happens in closed and autocratic societies that don’t have the benefit of outside, Western influences and free and open political debate: They regress based on bad and malicious ideas.
But as I explained over at FrumForum, the great thing about democracy is that “it gives the citizenry the right to discuss and debate issues. It gives them the right to try and change people’s minds. It gives them the opportunity to fix and remedy their mistakes.”
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.
Finally, Goldstein complains that by my logic, “one could argue that Muslims were not involved in the attacks of September 11, 2001.”
This is spurious reasoning. Many of the Nazis were Christians, others were homosexuals. Does this mean that America was at war with Christians and homosexuals during World War II? Or were we at war with the Nazis?
By the same token, we are not at war with Islam or with Muslims. We are war with Islamists and Jihadists who pervert Islam for their own depraved and illicit purposes.
Yes, obviously the 9/11 terrorists professed a Muslim faith. But they were radical Islamists and Jihadists who adhered to the bin Laden interpretation of Islam. Millions of Muslims worldwide reject this interpretation; yet Goldstein seems to accept its supremacy. Why?
In truth, what the Egyptian people have achieved in the past three weeks is nothing short of miraculous. I wish that instead of trying to find fault with Egypt’s nascent democracy movement, Goldstein would step back and see its larger-scale historical significance and the hope that this movement rightly has engendered throughout Egypt and the Middle East.