Sounds like the opening of a joke—and it is:
The streets teem with millions of Egyptians demanding change. The president remains defiant. He makes a few speeches and offers some concessions, but the protesters insist it’s too little, too late. “We want him out,” they shout.
A few days later, the president is ousted. The atmosphere in Tahrir Square is ecstatic: The blasts of fireworks compete with cries of “Long live Egypt!”
That description could apply to the ousting of Mohammed Morsi on Wednesday or the toppling of Hosni Mubarak in 2011. In neither instance did I join the cheering late into the night. How would throwing out the president solve Egypt’s problems? What would happen once the makeshift tents in Tahrir Square came down and the euphoria wore off?
In 2011 and this week, I asked my family and friends such questions and was called a pessimist, a cynic and a government-sympathizer. But no one had good answers.
This time, I am slightly more hopeful. The Egyptian army toppled a group that stands directly at odds with modernity.
Of course, but…
But that is as far as my optimism goes. The coup showed that Egypt’s political culture hasn’t developed much, if at all, in the past few years.
Once again, the country’s hardships were blamed on one man. Again, Egyptians expressed a naïve hope that this revolution, at last, was the beginning of a prosperous future.
In another repeat of 2011, populism supported by an all-too-willing Egyptian media has taken over. My social-media feeds have turned into a swamp of self-satisfied pronouncements, conspiracy theories and ultranationalistic sentiments. Overnight, the Muslim Brotherhood transformed from a group that 13 million people voted for to a bunch of traitors who must be hanged.
Amid such fervor, reality seems to have no place. Few dare to ask how Egypt got into this mess. Few mention that the Muslim Brotherhood, with all its bigotry and backwardness, was the free choice of Egyptians—and that it still has millions of supporters. Egyptians don’t want to hear that they were the ones who let extremism flourish until the Brotherhood controlled the nation.
For every literate, erudite, modern Egyptian, there are thousands (seemingly) of illiterate, backward, scrupulously doctrinal Egyptians. Nothing wrong with that… unless you’re trying to emulate a Western democracy. In which case, it doesn’t work. At all.
John F. Kerry’s credibility took on more water on the second day of his Nantucket vacation flap, as the State Department backed off its initial denial the embattled secretary of state was yachting during the Egyptian military coup — and President Obama tweeted a photo of himself kayaking in a hat, sunglasses and polo shirt.
The Herald reported yesterday that Kerry spent the Fourth of July cavorting on his island getaway even as chaos from the military’s ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi rocked Egypt.
In the wake of the Herald story, a State Department spokeswoman admitted yesterday that Kerry was “briefly” aboard his $7 million luxury craft, the Isabel, on the day of the coup, after previously insisting the yacht sighting was “completely inaccurate.”
“While he was briefly on his boat on Wednesday,” State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said, “Secretary Kerry worked around the clock all day.”
The Herald front-page story captured a series of photos of Kerry paddling a kayak in shorts and a polo shirt. Then yesterday Obama posted his own kayaking photo on Twitter, tweeting, “Have a great weekend.”
It was unclear whether the president’s tweet was mocking Kerry or supporting him.
Mocking, I’d say.
Of course, Kerry is allowed a day off every once in a while. He can hardly be blamed if his day at the beach coincides with bloodshed on the sands of Egypt. Unless, of course, he can be blamed. He’s been so obsessed with forcing a peace process on the Israelis and the self-proclaimed “Palestinians” that a coup in Egypt and a civil war in Syria (to name but two current events) hardly creep into his consciousness.
And why would he have such tunnel vision, such an obsession? Ego.
PS: My bad. He’s focused on Egypt after all.
I regret the error.
PPS: Howie Carr: “Actually, John Forbes Kerry was for the Muslim Brotherhood before he was against the Muslim Brotherhood.”