When it came to light that Egypt’s new president had made blatantly anti-Semitic remarks (in the Western context today, they could also be called racist), it finally became necessary for the U.S. government to reluctantly and grudgingly remark on these statements, through the medium of spokesman Jay Carney. (By the way, this also occurred only after the New York Times covered the story, putting Morsi in the most apologetic light.) A State Department statement said that Morsi now saying he is against intolerance was an important first step, and they expected him to show that he believs in religious tolerance.
My problem in dealing with statements such as Morsi’s is that they are treated as isolated acts.
As I’ve been writing for about 30 years, the Muslim Brotherhood has always talked this way, as does Hamas, Hizballah, the Ba’ath Party, the Iranian regime, and many — though not all — Arab intellectuals, politicians, and journalists of living memory. In fact, already another Morsi statement has surfaced: ”We must nurse children on hatred towards Jews.” Note he did not add: “until I become president and then we can start teaching them to live in peace with others of different faiths.”
It isn’t just pathetic, but also strange that educated Europeans/North Americans who are eager to destroy the career of anyone who has ever uttered a single sentence that was or can be portrayed as hate speech will accept those who issue whole reams of the stuff. What is truly ridiculous about this kind of controversy is the outrage or apologia over one statement: Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood leadership, including leading figures in the ruling party, have made hundreds of radical statements. They are either ignored or explained away as insignificant.
Here are just two from the very top of the organization. Khairat El Shater, the Brotherhood’s deputy general guide, said in April 2012:
Our main and overall mission as Muslim Brothers is to empower God’s Religion on Earth … and to [establish] the subjugation of people to God on Earth.
Muhammad Badi, the Brotherhood’s head, explained in his September 2010 speech which virtually announced the launching of the revolution to overthrow the Mubarak regime:
The factors that will lead to the collapse of the United States are much more powerful than those that led to the collapse of the Soviet empire. … The United States is now experiencing the beginning of its end, and is heading towards its demise.
Yet people who point to the Brotherhood’s radical history, extremist statements, and intolerant behavior now in a systematic way are ridiculed.
We aren’t even hearing a pragmatic-sounding argument: “Of course these people are extremist, totalitarian, and anti-American, but we have to deal with them.” No — what we are hearing instead: “They aren’t really extremist, totalitarian, or anti-American, and we prefer to deal with them because they are moderate and a bulwark against the Salafists.”
All three of the top foreign policy appointments just made by President Barack Obama — John Kerry as secretary of state, Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, and John Brennan as CIA director — strongly endorse that latter stance.
Indeed, Brennan practically created it.