“I just can’t do what I done before/I just can’t beg you anymore/I’m gonna let you pass/And I’ll go last/Then time will tell just who fell/And who’s been left behind/When you go your way and I go mine.”
–Bob Dylan, “Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine”
Muhammad al-Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, has become president of Egypt. But what does it mean to be president of Egypt? That’s the current question. Let me divide the discussion into two parts: What does this tell about “us” and what does this tell about Egypt and its future?
First, what does it tell about the West? The answer is that there are things that can be learned and understood, leading to some predictive power, but unfortunately the current hegemonic elite and its worldview refuse to learn.
What could be more revealing of that fact than the words off Jacqueline Stevens in the New York Times: “Chimps randomly throwing darts at the possible outcomes would have done almost as well as the experts”? Well, it depends on which experts. Martin Kramer, one of those who was right all along about Egypt, has a choice selection of quotes from a certain kind of Middle East expert who was dead wrong. A near-infinite number of such quotes can be gathered from the pages of America’s most august newspapers.
These people all share the current left-wing ideology; the refusal to understand the menace of revolutionary Islamism; the general belief that President Barack Obama is doing a great job; and the tendency to blame either Israel or America for the region’s problems. So if a big mistake has been made, it is that approach that has proven to be in the chimp category.
Having written about the Middle East for almost forty years, I’ve seen the power of the “chimps” that repeatedly make the same mistakes over and over again. Their power has waxed and waned, falling to the lowest points, for example, just after the 1991 Kuwait war and just after September 11, 2001. But they keep making comebacks and in the last two years their influence has been at an all-time high.
In early October 2010 I wrote an article based on actually reading what the Muslim Brotherhood leaders were saying. It was titled “The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is Declaring Jihad on America; Will Anyone in America Notice?” And they were signaling a change in their traditionally cautious strategy to go for revolution. Why? They told us: President Husni Mubarak was on his last legs, the regime seemed uncertain, America was weak, and their assessment was that the revolutionary Islamist forces were advancing everywhere.
By the time the uprising broke out, in January 2011, numerous voices were raised in warning. If the mainstream were to be honest, it would have to admit that those voices included Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck.
[Incidentally, imagine the anger, the hatred, and the gnashing of teeth that will occur in response to the previous sentence. Yet aren’t people engaged in public debate–especially intellectuals, and that includes liberal intellectuals–supposed to acknowledge the truth? Who refuses to give credit for those, even opponents, who are right? Who refuses to learn from their own mistakes? Not real liberals or conservatives, but ideologically rigid radicals.]
None of these people were experts but they listened to the more accurate experts, at times went over the heads of the mass media to look at what the Brotherhood really said, and also had a basic sense of reality that guided them correctly on this issue. Equally accurate was every article written on the subject in PJ Media. To admit this, however, would require the hegemonic forces to accept that they might be right on other issues as well.
Meanwhile, the New York Times correspondent is still telling readers:
“…many in the West have a lot of mistaken impressions about the Brotherhood. It is at its base a religious revival group committed to a bottom-up and gradual approach to moving the culture in a more Islamic direction. Their platform carefully avoids any hint of restrictions on personal behavior or liberties. Rather, it seems to suggest the Brotherhood would try to nudge Egyptian culture in a more conservative direction by public and private example. For instance, the Brotherhood would not restrict the content of films but it might subsidize films that expressed traditional Islamic values. And it would allow Islamic charities and religious groups more freedom to spread their own messages. Barry Rubin
About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.
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