Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Invisible gorillas: the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

In a recent article "Return to Terror Square", Guy Somerset notes:

"...that not only did the militant Islamists pull off a feat no one expected (except everyone who was paying any attention), they went about celebrating it in much the same way as before."
It's certainly true that the triumph of Islamist parties in Egypt -- the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist Nour Party -- has surprised many in the mainstream media, especially the likes of The Guardian, The New York Times and the BBC (the Beebs has even admitted to being "naive").  But it's not simply the case that they were not "paying attention".  It's just that they were paying attention to different things than those to which we in the counter-jihad bloggosphere were paying attention.  
This made me recall the famous experiment in 1975 which...
"... asked subjects to watch a short video in which two groups of people (wearing black and white t-shirts) pass a basketball around. The subjects are told to either count the number of passes made by one of the teams or to keep count of bounce passes vs. aerial passes. In different versions of the video a woman walks through the scene carrying an umbrella, or wearing a full gorilla suit. After watching the video the subjects are asked if they saw anything out of the ordinary take place. In most groups, 50% of the subjects did not report seeing the gorilla."[Ref]
What the MSM were looking at was the "basketball": the "youth", the "brave fighters for democracy", the stirring crowds in Tahrir Square, the downfall of Mubarak, and so on, as if that were all there were.  Meantime the bloggosphere was looking at was the "gorillas": what was likely to lie ahead, the inevitable -- we thought -- rise of Islamist parties.  And that was shown to be the case.
Of course, we need to make sure that we're still not focussing on just one thing -- the gorillas -- and not seeing that there may indeed be some basketballs being thrown around.
One such is the  youth.  If there is to be any hope in Egypt for an outcome less dreary and backward-looking than the Islamist parties, in cahoots with -- or not -- the Army, then it's in the youth. That's the view, or hope anyway, of Magdi Abdelhadi in this article.
Let's try to keep an eye on the gorillas and on the balls.