Using Islamaphobia to undermine the pursuit of Democracy

So, there has been quite a bit of Islamaphobia and straight up Racism going on about the current Egyptian protests. First we have the venerable Mike Huckabee, who describes himself as a “Christian Zionist” (that’s right. One of those weird guys who want all the Israelites to return to Israel because…then the rapture will happen and the Christians will all float up to heaven.)

Huckabee attempted to stoke the fire of Islamaphobia with the contention that,

“the situation could threaten the world and all those who seek peace and security. The real threat to Israelis not the bomb but the people behind it, not weapons but the madmen behind them.”

Caroline Glick, in turn, contends:

“What all of this makes clear is that if the regime falls, the successor regime will not be a liberal democracy. Mubarak’s military authoritarianism will be replaced by Islamic totalitarianism.”

Glick goes on to back her article up with statistics intended to paint Egypt as regressive and barbaric. A nation of extremists.Go on. Treat yourself.

Allan Dershowitz was given a platform, in the supposedly liberal Huffington Post, to warn us all of just how dangerous it is to allow Arabs to choose their own leaders. Dershowitz again invoked the image of the radical muslim nation. He contended that:

“Mubarak will leave. Someone like Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Laureate who ran the International Atomic Energy Agency, will serve as an interim leader. He is supported by the Muslim Brotherhood, and, in turn, he has said nice things about the Brotherhood.”

He continued:

“ElBaradei is their perfect stalking horse — well respected, moderate and compliant. He will put together a government in which the Brotherhood begins as kingmaker and ends up as king.”

There is a lot wrong with this analysis.

1. The connection between ElBaradei and The MB is Dersh’s only tenuous connection between a popular uprising and a bleak dystopia in the form of a radical Egyptian Theocracy. The connection between the MB and ElBaradei, aslo, does not amount to much, as Dersh admits. Check the above quote. Other than being supported by the Brotherhood and having “said nice things about them”, there is no reason to lump the moderate ElBaredi in with what is essentially a conservative Religious Party. Those nice things are said in the common interest of ousting Muburak, and the in the tradition of political plurality.  BTW I love the how Dersh demonizes the MB but  is silent about the Shas Party in Israel. Apparently Religious extremism is okay… if it’s the right religion.

2. Dershowitz describes The Brotherhood as being violent extremists with links to Nazism (it seems Dershowitz is incapable of writing an essay without comparing whatever person or organization he happens to be defaming at that time to a Nazi or Nazis.) The violent extremist claim is also factually bankrupt. Consider this, the Muslim Brotherhood chose Non-Violence in 1984. Yes, that’s before I was born. An extremely long time ago. Yet, Dershowitz chose to describe them as violent extremists, in order to invoke the fear of a second holocaust. For some perspective (which goes beyond “Verb+Noun+Anti-Semite”) on the Muslim Brotherhood, I urge you to read the following article by Helena Cobban.

Helena Cobban observes:

“1. The MB is a significant force in Egyptian politics;

2. Its leaders’ clear decision to participate in the January 28 street protests (where they had been noticeably ambivalent about the protests called three days earlier) expanded the protest movement to the point where, since January 28, it has threatened to topple Mubarak;

3. The MB’s participation in the protests has been peaceful and has included constant public calls — from the MB, as from other opposition parties — that the whole popular action be conducted peacefully;

4. The MB has shown its willingness to work in coalition with the secular opposition forces  who have formed an important spearhead of the country’s democratic movement; it has also announced its support for the (perhaps transitional) leadership of Mohamed ElBaradei, who has cast himself primarily as a constitutionalist with no other political/ideological “flavor”;

5. The MB has sent many clear signals of its desire for stability inside the country, and a determination to avoid a broad range of actions that might be seen by others as provocative: in the protests, its people have not thus far been shouting religious slogans, raising religious banners, or openly expressing anti-U.S. or even anti-Israeli sentiment”

Ultimately, if the people want the Muslim Brotherhood to replace Mubarak, so should it be. I can’t help but think most of the critics of this uprising are not seriously concerned with the wellbeing of Egyptian people (If they were they wouldn’t be suggesting they continue to live under Mubarak’s boot), but are simply loathe to witness any change to the political and military dominance that the Israeli-US Alliance enjoys in the region.

Dershowitz finishes up his piece by suggesting that Egyptians should simply continue living under a Dictatorship because, “hey it’s not the worst Dictatorship in the world”:

“I have visited Egypt on several occasions, most recently a few months ago. Compared to other repressive dictatorships I have visited over the years, it was a 5 or 6 on a scale of 10 for the average Egyptian.”

And I’m guessing that Dershowitz isn’t the kind who likes to “rough it like the locals” when he travels.

See the below interview with one of the many young Egyptian Activists who have played such a vital role in the protests:

This movement is free flowing and spontaneous. It’s diverse and it’s promising. The people of Egypt deserve the support and solidarity of the International Community. Not condemnation. And we owe them our gratitude for reminding us that when somebody takes your rights you have to demand them back hard.