"How Not To Say Stupid Stuff About Egypt" Ctd

by Patrick Appel

There are intellectually honest writers – Larison chief among them – arguing that Egyptian democracy, or some imperfect version of it, is against US interests. There are also those who argue the next leader of Egypt will potentially be as bad or worse than Mubarak and that a transition in leadership is likely to cause great violence. But another clique – Glenn Beck is the most visible, but Pamela Geller is another good example – is using conspiracy theories and racist anti-Muslim rhetoric to argue in support of Mubarak and against democracy. The Sarthanapalos blogger was wrong to conflate the Larisons and Becks of the world. A reader writes:

"[T]he implication is that democracy is not to be trusted in the hands of certain nations, people and religions is offensive, racist and ignorant."

Bullshit.  A caricature of what most people are saying when they express skepticism about democracy in certain nations that have no experience with it, especially if those nations don't have a stable middle class.  Recently transitioned democracies are ten times more likely to engage in war than are stable autocracies for the first ten years - Mansfield and Snyder, "Democratization and War."  If the statistics offend Sarthanapolos's sensibilities, then s/he can get a straw and suck it up.

Implying that certain groups who happen to be brown are biting off more than they can chew is not automatically racist; the automatic reversion to racism as a defense against such arguments made about such groups often is (my argument isn't reliant on the fact that the revolutionaries are Brown/Egyptian/Arab/Muslim--that charge falls on Sarthanapolos).

Another reader writes:

In light of recent events in Egypt, I want to mention that, according to the CIA World Factbook, not even our own government officially considers us a "democracy." The money quote is under the heading government type.

"Constitution-based federal republic; strong democratic tradition".

I wonder if bloggers like Sarthanapalos (see your "How Not To Say Stupid Stuff About Egypt") and other media realize how stupid they themselves sound when they talk about "Democracy" as if it is was almost a holy word.

The Founding Fathers of this nation had good reason for not making ours a true democracy. Does tyranny of the majority ring any bells? Democratic tradition, to use the term the CIA uses, comes with responsibilities (lots of 'em) in order to be effective and efficient and just. Freedom is a good thing, but to invite people to live in a house of democracy without the proper foundation seems to be a like building a house of cards.

The democracy/republic distinction can be confusing. Bernstein explained it well awhile back. Another reader:

Sarthanapalos is a little quick to cry racism and ignorance when people don't want Egypt to open up its elections. The Muslim Brotherhood is the big populist bloc people are concerned about, mostly because their stated objectives are to institute Sharia law and to cancel the Egypt-Israel peace treaty. There is some debate whether Sharia is compatible with democracy and western notions of human rights. Also, canceling a peace treaty is one of those things that tends to cause war. So it's perfectly reasonable to have concerns about whether democracy and peace can be sustained when the democrats we're talking about want neither.

It's unclear what the Muslim Brotherhood's role would be in a democratic Egypt, but it is a genuine concern.