Friday 2 December 2011

The Arab "Spring": how 'naive' do you have to be, before you're just stupid?...

The Left were surprised by the Venus Fly
Trap.  The conservative bloggers weren't
I was in Egypt a few weeks back, just before the latest round of convulsions in Tahrir square.  So when I watched the news here in Hong Kong, I was, like "there!  right there!  That's where I was, right on that spot!" and so on.... making me realise just how these things can be just beneath the surface, yet you don't know they're there, ready to pop.
I went around Cairo, for example, "looking for trouble", that's how I put it to my mates: looking for signs of the earlier violence, looking for signs of the violence against Coptic Christians, that had happened literally the day before we arrived in Cairo. So I went to Tahrir and past the burnt out government building on its eastern corner, and over to the Christian quarter, where there were cops (and Copts) but nothing simmering, and no damage visible, and then to Al-Azhar university campus -- this being the oldest Uni in Islam and the seat of Sunni learning, and then to the Al-Azhar park, newly reopened, where young pre-veiling age giggling girls want to talk to me, happy as can be, and older veiling-age girls look on and chat as well, happy families on the grassy knoll overlooking the Citadel.
And yet, just a week later and they're back in the square and the Army's busy shooting them.  (well, by "they", I mean men, for it's a men-only thing now, this on-going revolution...)
And then I hear someone on the BBC say that maybe, earlier, when they'd all been giddy with the "Arab Spring", maybe they'd been "naive".  Gee, d'yah think?
But whereas the recent violence may not have been apparent -- at least to this non-Arab speaking tourist with no local contacts -- the likelihood that the "Arab Spring" was not going to be all sweetness and light was apparent early on to many not in the BBC.  They include such writers and bloggers as Spencer, Emerson, Rubin, Pipes, Steyn the Elder of Ziyon, Blazing Cat Fur, et al...
As the left waxed eloquent about democracy, the will of youth for freedom, of...., well of "Spring", there were many in the conservative blogosphere who were warning of other outcomes and who have been proven right.  The outcomes predicted being, in simple form: that democracy would bring to power Islamist forces like the Muslim Brotherhood.  The MSM -- BBC and others -- dismissed this idea at the outset, as being "cynical", and various other contumely.  Then, they started saying "well, even if the do come to power, they're pretty moderate anyway, secular even".  Well, wrong on both counts.  The Brotherhood is resolutely anti-western anti-democratic, anti-women, pro Sharia; the whole panoply of values and ideas that are, or should be, anathema to enlightened people (and yes, I say "enlightened" deliberately, aware of how freighted it is, and how it can be thrown at one as a curse almost.  A lot of what they MB stands for is, quite simply, backward to the point of barbarism. More about the Brotherhood here).
What if they MSM not been so "naive"?  Would things have been any different?  Maybe not.  But surely, if one is making judgements about an issue -- more importantly if one is a government making policy about an issue, in this case the Obama administration, which seemed to share the MSM infatuation with the "Arab Spring -- then surely you should have the clearest view of what the situation actually is, before you make your pronouncements.
It gets me worried about a bigger "naivety".
By this, I mean the naivety about the encroachment of Sharia law and Islamic values in the West.  Those who warn about this trend are pretty much the same people who warned about not being naive on the Arab Spring.  But they are routinely dismissed as being neo conservatives (and hence not to be trusted, on that basis alone), that they are bigoted, racist, Islamophobes.
In, short, the naivety which has been owned up to in the case of the Arab Spring, has not led to any introspection by the left, that maybe they're being naive about an even bigger issue, that maybe they can learn from some of those hard-headed bloggers.  For that's how they should be viewed: as being "hard headed", rather than xenophobic bigots.  The future of the west rests on it; not just the future of Arab countries.
Related: Thomas Friedman's "The Arab Awakening and Israel" of Nov 29th.  He quotes Netanyahu as follows:
“...the Arab awakening was moving the Arab world “backward” and turning into anIslamic, anti-Western, anti-liberal, anti-Israeli, undemocratic wave. 
"Netanyahu added: “In February, when millions of Egyptians thronged to the streets in Cairo, commentators and quite a few Israeli members of the opposition said that we’re facing a new era of liberalism and progress. They said I was trying to scare the public and was on the wrong side of history and don’t see where things are heading.” But, he told the Knesset, events had proved him correct. ”
Ed Husain's Arab Street blog. He's the guy who wrote "The Islamist" recounting his journey from radical Islam, back to reality, to being a "moderate muslim".  He tries hard.  But he's still suspect, in my view: he says Sharia can be benign; has only criticism for Israel, none for the Palestinian side.  He's still Muslim -- says Islam is "rich enough" to be moderate (I don't think so) -- though he claims to be a free thinker: Islam and free thinking are incompatible, in my view -- Islam means "submission" including of one's thought processes to the strictures of doctrine.  Still, some interesting stuff on his blog.