The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Egypt Gets Violent, Obama Gets Angry, Networks Get Ratings, I’ll Pop the Popcorn

Posted on | February 2, 2011 | 29 Comments

Let’s start with the basics: When you carry signs and chant slogans, that’s called a “protest.” When you start throwing rocks and molotov cocktails, that’s called a “riot.” So it’s time for the talking heads on TV to stop using terms like “protesters” and “demonstrators” to describe the mob in Cairo.

Furthermore, don’t ever try to lecture me about “racism” for describing what’s happening in a foreign country, or act like I’m morally inferior to you because I don’t share your particular opinion about events.

When the “Arab street” does the same thing in Cairo that we’ve seen them do in Jerusalem and Gaza, it’s not racist to interpret today’s violence in terms of a historic pattern of mob violence. And the fact that you, Mr. Moral Superiority, are cheering for the immediate overthrow of Hosni Mubarak doesn’t make me a thought-criminal for suggesting that maybe we don’t want to be so hasty.

For crying out loud, they were actually swooping down on Tahrir Square on horses and camels! At what point do stereotypes stop being stereotypes and instead become, y’know, facts?

Speaking of ugly stereotypes, here’s the snotty BBC correspondent looking down his nose at uncouth Yanks:

President Barack Obama has suddenly got tough on America’s ally of 30 years. What’s more, he’s abandoned the language of a law professor and adopted the tone of a civil rights leader. He’s made it crystal clear he’s on the side of the street, not the weakened strong man. As mass demonstrations turned into a revolution, under the benign but watchful eye of the army, the White House has been struggling to keep pace. Maybe now Mr Obama has caught up. Just about.

Screw you, limey bastard! If we Americans want to badmouth the president as a naive parvenu who’s gotten in over his head, that’s our right. But we’ll tolerate no such lectures from you Brits.

And, honestly, I thought Obama’s speech Tuesday night was just about right: He made it clear he was angry at Mubarak, but explicitly spoke of the “aftermath of these protests.” In other words: OK, you’ve had your protest rallies, Mubarak’s on his way out, “free and fair elections,” yadda yadda — now go back home and stop distracting us the week before Super Bowl Sunday.

Trust me: The next-to-last thing I want is for Barack Obama to be able to claim credit for a foreign-policy success. But the last thing in the world I want is for Islamic extremists to take over a country with 75 million people and modern military weapons, sitting right next door to Israel — a scenario that could lead to Armageddon.

Also, $4 a gallon for gas. That would be tragic.

So I’m making an exception and siding with Obama here: All you angry dudes in Cairo, go home, sleep with your four wives, chill out with some goat stew, and bet on the Packers to win by three Sunday.

Meanwhile, America wishes to express our gratitude to the Egyptian mob for providing us with such excellent entertainment, especially the pro-Mubarak dude who accidentally caught himself on fire with a molotov cocktail:

Classic! We’re not laughing with you, dude. We’re laughing at you.

VodkaPundit has accused me of turning the snark up to “11,” but I have barely begun to tap the deep well of mean-spirited sarcasm inspired by the Egyptian “revolution.” I mean, please: 600 injuries? You call that a “revolution”? I’ve seen more injuries than that when rednecks started fighting over beer at a ZZ Top concert in 1976.

Jim Geraghty tells me it’s too early to start making jokes at the expense of Anderson Cooper.

So give me another 15 minutes. I needed a smoke break anyway.

UPDATE: Ace of Spades:

There is a pretty good chance that the army winds up siding with Mubarak and crushing the resistance, and then Mubarak installs a puppet replacement as president. That may not be the most likely scenario but I can’t see how it’s not a plausible one.

Well, no duh, Ace: Eric Dondero called that one yesterday. And here’s Reuters via MSNBC with a follow-up:

The fate of Egypt’s pro-democracy movement may rest on the shoulders of the country’s top soldier, who has so far refused to use force against protesters demanding the removal of President Hosni Mubarak.
In a rare balancing act, Lieutenant General Sami Enan, the armed forces chief-of-staff, has won praise from both the United States and a leading member of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, who said he could be an acceptable successor to Mubarak. . . .

Read the whole thing. Enan’s relatively young (61) and there’s a solid pattern: All four Egyptian presidents since independence have been former top army officers. So “meet the new boss,” etc.

Meanwhile, Ace links this spin from Robert “Baghdad Bob” Gibbs:

“‘Now’ means ‘yesterday,'” Gibbs explained. “When we said ‘now,’ we meant ‘yesterday’… that’s what the people of Egypt want to see,” Gibbs said, adding that a process that begins one week, one month, or many months from now won’t suffice.

But we are, after all, talking about a “process.” What does that mean, “a process of transition”? Appoint a committee to study it? Have some meetings to discuss it?

Gibbs is clarifying the when. Instead he needs to clarify the what.

UPDATE II: In a helpful reminder why this blog is called “The Other McCain,” Philip Klein interviews a certain senator from Arizona:

“We’ve seen in past history very well organized fanatical organizations can hijack democracy, whether it be Lenin, or whether it be radical Islamic extremists in Iran,” McCain told me outside the Senate floor when asked about whether he was concerned that the Brotherhood could gain power. “They are an organization with ties to terrorist organizations. They support Sharia law, that alone should be reason not to have them as part of any democratic government. Sharia law is the most abhorrent treatment of women and perversion of the democratic ideals we stand for.”
Yet when I asked him whether the United States should recognize a government that included the Brotherhood, he insisted, “I think the United States should take every step to make sure there is a free and fair and open and transparent election, and that won’t happen.”

See? Johnny Mac repeats that silly mantra, “free and fair and open and transparent election,” in the same way a tribal shaman makes a ritual incantation, supposing that by merely saying the magic words, he can ward off the Evil Eye. This is democracy as a superstition.

UPDATE III: Oh, boy. Allahpundit is calling the pro-Mubarak forces “fascist” and comparing them to “SA” (Sturmabteilung, a/k/a “Brownshirts”), so I guess maybe Godwin’s Law is now in effect.

Let’s start by stipulating what seems to be the unfortunate but self-evident fact: The thugs who descended on Tahrir Square today to beat up anti-Mubarak protesters were organized by the regime and operating with the regime’s approval. In this sense, then, they were like SEIU goons beating up a Tea Party protester, except for the fact that your typical Tea Party protester isn’t associated with the Muslim Brotherhood and doesn’t start ranting about the need to “destroy Israel” the minute a CNN camera crew shows up.

A better analogy is to say that the pro-Mubarak thugs were like the Chicago cops at the 1968 Democratic convention, or the Ohio National Guard at Kent State — which would make the anti-Mubarak protesters analogous to SDS, Yippies and various other smelly peacenik scum of that era.

What I’m trying to say is that the facile comparison “X = Hitler” when discussing a confrontation between X and Y requires us to take a long, hard look at the variable Y in the equation. Depending on what Y represents, we might take a different view of the tactics of X. And this is especially true when X has at its disposal tanks and machine guns that they have not yet used against the unarmed Y.

My admittedly imperfect understanding of the situation in Cairo is that the army told the protesters to disperse, and when the protesters didn’t disperse, then the goon squad showed up and started busting heads.

Such tactics are not something I would endorse or advocate, but then again, I’m not the president of Egypt. Maybe if I was the president of Egypt, I’d do the same thing. (Note the hypothetical, as I’m rather dubious of my prospects of ever becoming president of Egypt.) But who is the better judge of the situation in Egypt: Me, Allahpundit, Nicholas Kristof or Hosni Mubarak?

Which one of us is the Egyptian with the responsibility for the future of his own country? And which one of us has led Egypt during a 30-year period when that nation has been at peace with Israel and an ally of the United States?

Excuse me if I’m too willing to give Mubarak the benefit of the doubt at a time when the popular thing to do is to denounce Mubarak as a hateful tyrant. But I’ve never been much for saying things merely because it was popular to say them.


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