Barry Rubin: Professor: [As the Martian ambassador starts disintegrating congressmen with his ray gun]: “Mr. Ambassador, please! What are you doing? This doesn’t make sense! It’s not logical! It’s not !” – Mars Attacks
Brainiac Thoms Friedman
Friedman Cheers as Egyptians Are Enslaved
The first reason is his shocking enthusiasm for the Brotherhood, summed up in his reported phrase: “The Muslim Brotherhood is a legitimate, authentic, progressive alternative.” Mr. Friedman has responded that he was referring not to the Brotherhood but instead meant to say, “the Egyptian elections produced, for the first time, were legitimate, authentic, liberal, secular, nationalist, progressive alternatives to the Muslim Brotherhood and now the Brotherhood would have to compete with such alternatives — for the first time.”
If that is what he meant it is not very impressive. “Nationalist” alternatives to the Brotherhood have been running Egypt since 1952, after all, and “liberal, secular” movements were very active in the latter Mubarak years. I wonder who Friedman is referring to as “progessive,” the radical nationalist-Marxist parties? Moreover, under Egyptian law, the Brotherhood was outlawed and while it did function it was weak compared to now. So to act as if alternatives to the Brotherhood have now arisen is like saying after the fall of the czar and the Russian revolution that things were better because now there was an alternative to the Bolsheviks.
Friedman has never written anything critical about the Brotherhood and Salafists. He certainly didn’t say, “Great election, too bad about the result.” And so he and many others including the U.S. government have given not just grudging acceptance but absolute approval to a party with a long history down to the present day of anti-Americanism, antisemitism, and support for terrorism, as well as the desire to transform Egypt into a repressive society and a political dictatorship.
But since even Friedman agrees that he used such words, let’s examine them:
— “Legitimate.” Does “legitimate” merely mean here that a lot of Egyptians accept the Brotherhood as their leader? But by this definition Stalinism, Nazism, fascism, and Japanese racist militarism were all “legitimate” doctrines. What is an “illegitimate” doctrine? I suppose nowadays only Zionism gets presented as such. Friedman, who is never short of criticisms on Israel, finds revolutionary Islamism more to his taste.
On the other hand, it is not at all clear that secular and liberal groups are now “legitimate” since they have been overwhelmingly rejected by the voters and are likely to face significant harassment from the army, Brotherhood, and Salafists.