"We Are All Egyptians"

by Patrick Appel

That's Kristof's headline today. Larison pushes back:

When the conflict is an internal political struggle between two groups of people of the same nation, as it is in Egypt, it is even harder to argue that “we are all Egyptians.” The thugs attacking the protesters earlier this week are Egyptians, as are the people who gave them the orders to attack. Those obviously aren’t the Egyptians with whom Kristof wants us to identify. Kristof doesn’t want to be that sort of Egyptian, as they are the ones trying to help Mubarak hang on a little longer, and the purpose of these expressions of solidarity is to declare a side in an ongoing conflict.

Certainly, Kristof must assume that the protesters represent the broad majority, and that the supporters of the regime are unrepresentative, but he can’t possibly know that. When both sides in the struggle are Egyptian and they are divided by political goals and interests, it doesn’t tell us very much to declare solidarity with Egyptians. In the end, these expressions of solidarity are sentimental or ideological, and they tend not to mean very much in terms of lending other people anything more than a little moral support, and they are driven by some incessant need to take sides in other nations’ affairs.