Egypt: As Grim Islamists March Toward Power, The Naïve Dance in Tahrir Square
Actually, Tahrir was the seed that brought the plant of revolutionary Islamist authoritarianism. (I’ll keep the word totalitarianism for later on, when it might be needed.) The liberals were a tiny minority who in their combination of hope and arrogance thought that they were something powerful in the country. Meanwhile, the Islamists used the liberals as cover to climb into power. They were on their good behavior for strategic reasons.
Beautiful dreams often engender horrific realities: the Weimar Republic in Germany, the glorious dawn of the French Revolution, and the idealism of the Russian Revolution gave way to something else entirely.
Ironically, a Coptic refugee -- in a sinister echo of Big Pharoah’s Brotherhood doctors treating Christians anecdote -- recounts how a Muslim physician treating her daughter at a hospital offered to give her a clitorectomy, absolutely free of charge. It was the “last straw” that made the family flee the country.
Of course, not all Egyptian Muslims think that way by any means. But the problem is that 70 to 80 percent of them are ready to vote that way. The excuses are endless: the Islamists are moderate; the Islamists aren’t really Islamists; being in power will moderate them; there are moderate factions; they don’t really mean what they say; they only mean what they say when talking to Western journalists.
The rationales aren’t based on evidence. They are based on wishful thinking, the same wishful thinking that enabled a tiny group of highly Westernized liberals in a few wealthy districts of Cairo to think that they actually represented the country.
Even today, the Tahrir Square political naifs are spending their energy fighting the army while their future masters entrench themselves in power through organization and the ballot box. In some bizarre dance of death -- Tahrir is indeed a “mental state” but in political terms one of mental dysfunction -- the liberal demonstrators demand the army turn over power faster. Faster to whom? The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists?
This is not to belittle the genuine spirit of idealism and the desire for a real and stable democracy of human and civil rights that many Egyptians want. But what’s most important is not what they desire but the actual effect of their ideas and actions.
There are wolves all too ready to profit from the gamboling of the sheep. Indeed, they are even quite willing to put on a wool disguise to lull them further into daydreams. The French aristocrat who converted to Catholicism to be king said that Paris was well worth a mass. The Islamists think that Cairo is well worth inviting dumb American journalists to dinner and being hospitable to them.
It’s the same generally with the West, dreaming of a moderate Palestinian state at peace with Israel; of moderate Islamists happily preserving their religion of peace; of Middle Easterners expressing gratitude to those wonderful Westerners who stopped backing dictators and evil Zionists to support instead the masses’ legitimate aspirations; and all the rest of that man-made global balminess.
Try to explain your good intentions to the firing squad. Blindness and wishful thinking are traits one cannot afford in the Middle East because the price for them is going to be very, very high.
Extra credit: in discussing Big Pharoah’s description of a seed, I suggested it has brought the ugly flower of radical Islamism. That reminds me of the evil flowers (Fleurs de Mal), the book of poetry by the French poet Charles Baudelaire. A community center named after the poet was one of the first buildings burned down in the Muslim riots in Paris.