Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Celebrators and Nay-Sayers

New York Times Uber-pundit Thomas L. Friedman is--where else?--in Tahrir Square. And from his vantage point, which is always solipsistic, "democracy" is busting out all over, and don't think Tom is immune to the frenzy:
I'm in Tahrir Square, and of all the amazing things one sees here the one that strikes me most is a bearded man who is galloping up and down, literally screaming himself hoarse, saying: “I feel free! I feel free!” Gathered around him are Egyptians of all ages, including a woman so veiled that she has only a slit for her eyes, and they’re all holding up cellphones taking pictures and video of this man, determined to capture the moment in case it never comes again.

Aren’t we all? In 40 years of writing about the Middle East, I have never seen anything like what is happening in Tahrir Square. In a region where the truth and truth-tellers have so long been smothered under the crushing weight of oil, autocracy and religious obscurantism, suddenly the Arab world has a truly free space — a space that Egyptians themselves, not a foreign army, have liberated — and the truth is now gushing out of here like a torrent from a broken hydrant...
Well, something sure is gushing. Oh, wait--it's Tom.

Meanwhile, some cranky Canadians who aren't on the scene don't seem to be as taken with the Square sights--or as given to gush. George Jonas, for one, is pretty sure that while everyone and his Uncle Tom is celebrating, "democracy is opening the door to theocracy":
Anyway, what price democracy? They say lighting  a candle is better than cursing the darkness, which is uplifting theory, but isn't a gunpowder depot the wrong place to put it to the test?
John Thompson, jihad/terrorism expert and president of the Mackenzie Institute, thinks so. He writes in the Jewish Tribune:
In Egypt, Jordan, Yemen and elsewhere, the Muslim Brotherhood is flexing its muscle and hoping they can capture and direct enough popular outrage to finally topple the Arab world's existing elites. This is not the outcome any sane person would desire. The Brothers seek to impose Sharia Law throughout the Islamic World and reestablish the Caliphate.

The Brotherhood are ideologues, and - like the Nazis and the Communists - they are perfectly capable of murdering millions of people if they ever seize power. To Westerners who are attracted to the glamour of revolutions and who instinctively root for the underdog, hoping for the continuation of the status quo seems odd. Yet in this case, it might be the best outcome we can hope for.
Oh, George and John. You're such party poopers. Thank G-d.

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