Repost August 2011
Pundits are extolling the advent of freedom and democracy in the Arab Middle East. I only wish that that were true. There are no true viable democratic movements in the Arab world and the only opposition to the autocratic regimes that exist is the Islamist/Muslim Brotherhood. The question one has to ask is how did this actually occur? How did this situation come about? Who caused it? Who allowed it? Who promoted it? Whose own ignorance caused the present precarious situation? There were two groups that are directly responsible for the situation, the Arabist/elite and the liberal/left. For different reasons they promoted the same situation and allowed the lack of freedom and lack of opportunities and lack of the hope of a descent future to come to such a boiling point.
Is it some old-world elitist tribal allegiance to T.E.Lawrence, who saw himself as the savior of Arab identity during the Arab Revolt, or the glorious Hollywood rendering of the Bedouin in Arabia? Is it the need to seek out those whom you think is in need of your sufferance, just so they can feel charitable that they have brought the uneducated into a proper sphere? Is it the “white man’s burden” mentality reimagined for the economic gain of an oil empire? Is it all of the above? Most likely.
Then what of the liberals? They pride themselves on their acceptance and understanding that people are different. That people view the world differently. The liberals decry anyone who wants to change or challenge the Arab world to seek out democracy because they say, that is not their cultural norm. They vociferously attacked the neoconservatives for wanting to bring democracy to Iraq and for wanting to stand up for the Green Movement in Iran. They yelled year after year, that we did not have a right to impose our values on another part of the world. They yelled year after year, that a person’s culture was sacrosanct, even more so than human rights. They yelled that cultural norms are relative.
It became de rigueur to make sure that to be politically correct you never challenged the Arab world. It was not politically correct to question honor killings, fgm, child marriages, stonings and lack of freedom throughout the region, except of course if liberals thought the Israelis were doing something intolerable, like existing. It was not politically correct to challenge the fact that the Arab nations, while having some of the greatest physical riches were some of the poorest and most uneducated people in the modern world. It was not politically correct to demand that authoritarian regimes and absolute monarchies allow for true democratic reform. It is not politically correct that they allow democratic education and democratic philosophies. It is not politically correct to teach people what the western world is truly all about; that we are not just jeans, sneakers, pornography and alcohol. It is not politically correct to teach that we in the west want to share our world and our technology for the betterment of humankind. Those are western concepts the politically correct would say. You do not have a right to force them on another culture. Each culture is equal and each culture is right. Each culture is sacrosanct in the mind of the politically correct.
So instead what happened, as it would when a void is created, in stepped the Islamists, in stepped the Muslim Brotherhood, in stepped the forerunner of al-Qaeda and Hamas. In stepped a cultural explanation that the downtrodden would understand. Islamists provide the people with answers when they have none. Since democratic voices did not teach and did not educate, the Islamists educated that jihad is a goal and that suicide bombings are righteous. The Islamists teach antisemitism (OK so do the Arab autocrats) and anti-Americanism. The Islamists call for war and for genocide against Israel and the US. They call for honor killings, child marriages and stonings. The Islamists tell the people that their way will lead them out of poverty. That their way is the non-material way and it is the material obsession of the west that have caused their troubles. They blame the west for the autocratic regimes and for the torture and for the lack of freedom. They would say look, the west sends money to your oppressors, they support your oppressors, they do nothing to make your life better, they do not care about you. They are not your friends but your enemy.
So here you have a confluence of events, political thought and a descent into anarchy. You have the elites of old, who went from disapproving parent to oil-mad robber barons. Who created a world beholden to autocratic and absolute monarchies that have a tenuous grasp on their governments and nations. The Arabist/elites created a world where we ask nothing from these evil men in exchange for oil. They give these evil autocrats cover. They give them power. They give them respect and honor. The elites turn the other cheek when the evil men abuse their own people. Then the cultural relativism and political correctness of the left refutes the inclusion of democratic education. The cultural relativism and politically correct disemboweled the democratic movements by saying that we forced such western concepts to the Arab world. That the Arab world does not need democracy because it is not a part of their culture. The irony is that these two very desperate political and economic groups had one thing absolutely in common, they felt that the ways of democracy and the ways of freedom were beneath the Arab world. Did they not think that eventually this world would explode? Did they not think that eventually people will have had enough? Did they not think that human beings want a true future where they guide their lives?
I hope the Arabists/elites and the liberal-left are happy. The events that are unfolding in the Arab Middle East are dangerous beyond reckoning. The foothold that the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamist are about to gain in the region will lead to terror, horrors and war. It could have been democratic rule. It could have been real freedom for people. It could have been the beginning of a mass democratic wave. Instead life just got so much worse for us all.
But somehow I bet the Arabist/elites and the liberal/left will find a way to blame it all on Israel…they always do.