Ed Driscoll

Magical Thinking

As Stacy McCain writes, “Spare Us Your Sermons:”

“We Are All Egyptians,” Nicholas Kristof declares in a New York Times column with a Cairo dateline.

Except we aren’t Egyptians, and the vast majority of us will never set foot in Cairo. For those of us who aren’t traveling the world on a expense account, the Atlantic‘s Clive Crook offers this helpful reminder:

The Egyptian Revolution Is Not About Us

This is very important to remember. Whatever is happening in Egypt — and frankly, I’m not sure that it’s a “revolution” — it isn’t likely to be influenced by anything I write about it, or Rush Limbaugh says about it.

In fact, there appear to be limits even to Barack Obama’s ability to influence events in Egypt, contrary to rumors that the president is planning to walk to Cairo and feed the protesters with five loaves of bread and two fishes.

Despite our apparent impotence, however, there are a lot of people who seem obsessed with the idea that we must watch what we say about Egypt. They seem to believe that only certain thoughts are permissible about Egypt. If we say the wrong thing, or even think the wrong thing, we might somehow influence the situation in Egypt for the worse.

This is a type of psychotic delusion called “magical thinking”: If we think good thoughts about Egypt, good things will happen in Egypt. If only we believe in peace — with all our hearts! — there will be peace.

Fortunately, the president is far too much of a realist to have to worry much about magical thinking.