Many in the GOP and almost everyone at Fox News have made it clear that freedom and democracy are just empty, hollow politically expedient tools to use to whack one’s political opponent over the head with. Anyone can stick a flag pin on their lapel and claim to be a patriot but it takes real guts to actually walk the walk. We saw the Egyptians do just that for the past 18 days- they demonstrated to the world that 80 million Arabs (and the nation’s Christians) could unite peacefully across the class, education and social divide to topple a dictatorship. The image of the violent, angry Arab which has permeated our American consciousness was finally replaced with images of unity, courage and peaceful resistance.
But hey, not as far as Fox News is concerned. I don’t know what revolution they were watching but it wasn’t the same one I tuned in to. As we speak, they are continuing to promote their favorite theme- Muslims Will Takeover the World and Launch Jihad! The fact that people can be Muslim and want a largely secular government is totally lost on Fox News, Sarah Palin and others in the GOP. Noticeably absent from the protests in Egypt were burning American flags, burning Israeli flags and hateful rhetoric. This must really have dismayed Fox News and the democracy-is-great-for-everyone-but-Arabs crowd. To be fair to the political right, there were some neoconservatives who took a principled stand- people like Rich Lowry, Bill Kristol, Elliot Abrams- people whom I disagree with on almost every foreign policy issue, but they deserve credit where credit is due.
So, while the Egyptians have been protesting for economic opportunity, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, the right to assemble and an end to the nepotism, an end to the imprisonment and torture of activists, some in the U.S. are continuing to spread the fear of a takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood. It doesn’t matter how many times Egyptians in the street say they want a true secular democracy which includes the participation of as many people as possible, including those that represent political Islam. It also doesn’t matter that the Muslim Brotherhood renounced violence a long time ago and that Al Qaeda has lashed out brutally at them for doing so. It doesn’t matter that today the Egyptian military said Egypt will continue to honor all international treaties and commitments (ie. the peace treaty with Israel). It doesn’t matter that the opposition leader (of sorts) Mohamed El Baradei has said it’s wrong to assume Egyptians would want to toss out a peace treaty with Israel. None of that matters. That said, I think what people in the US and Israel really fear is that a democratic Egypt would be less likely to give into every U.S. and Israeli whim and put an Arab stamp of legitimacy on the Occupation. In fact, it is very likely that a democratic Egypt could use it’s considerable leverage (via the peace treaty and it’s borders) to encourage a more speedy resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Egypt is also likely to stress to Israel that peace is a two way street. Is this change necessarily a bad thing? I guess it is to the folks in Israel and the U.S. who have become used to the status quo that allows continued Israeli expansion and no end to the Occupation. But for those of us who want to see true peace in the Middle East, it’s an opportunity to achieve that.
How ironic that some in this country are using the very same fear-mongering tactics that Mubarak himself used to justify preventing any real political opposition that could threaten his rule:
The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said Friday that it’s essential that the U.S. try to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood from having a part in Egypt’s new government.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said on Fox’s “Hannity” that Washington has six months to work with the military leaders guiding the democratic transition in Egypt.
“As Americans we have a strategic interest in the Middle East. We cannot just sit back and say that the Muslim Brotherhood can work itself in,” King said.
He said that the group, which was banned under the Mubarak regime, says they are not violent yet “talk violence.”
“We as Americans cannot take the risk of allowing a group that fraternizes with terrorists who talks radically to have them get any power in the Middle East,” King said.
“Use our influence, considerable influence we have, use it right and do all we can to ensure the Muslim Brotherhood does not insinuate itself into the situation.”
I guess some people are just going to continue not giving the Egyptian people any credit, despite all we’ve seen over the past almost three weeks. I also guess some people think the Egyptian people are too stupid to pick their own leaders, so naturally they need the United States to step in and help them. Exactly how does Rep. King think the U.S. can demand the Muslim Brotherhood has no role in the Egyptian elections?
Also, haven’t we been calling on radical groups throughout the world to renounce violence? But then when they do, we basically say “well, maybe you renounced violence but you used to be violent, so you still can’t have a place at the table…” That sort of sends the message that a) we don’t mean what we say and b) there really is no point in renouncing violence because we won’t let you play in any reindeer games anyway.