Who’s afraid of the Arab Street? Part 2
When will The NY Times be held accountable for its deception?
Roger Cohen of The NY Times was one of the worst cheerleaders of the Islamist takeover of Egypt.
On February 3, 2011, Cohen already was framing concerns about Islamist influence in the revolution as a right-wing and Israeli distraction:
Already we hear the predictable warnings from Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu: This could be Iran 1979, a revolution for freedom that installs the Islamists. But this is not 1979, and Egypt’s Facebook-adept youth are not lining up behind the Muslim Brotherhood, itself scarcely a band of fanatics.
On February 15, 2011, I addressed Cohen’s deliberate trivialization of the anti-Semitism and anti-Westernism emerging on the streets of Cairo, Who’s Afraid Of The “Arab Street”?:
In the wake of the overthrow of Hosni Mubarek, we have heard much praise for the “Arab Street,” including by Roger Cohen writing in The New York Times two days ago:
In the Middle East you expect the worst. But having watched Egypt’s extraordinary civic achievement in building the coalition that ousted Mubarak, having watched Tahrir Square become cooperation central, and having watched the professionalism of the Egyptian army, I’m convinced the country has what it takes to build a decent, representative society — one that gives the lie to all the stereotypes associated with that dismissive shorthand “The Arab Street.”
In fact, post-Tahrir, let’s retire that phrase.
Let’s not retire the phrase.
There is a reason Jews in particular fear the “Arab Street” and that fear has not gone away, as this recent video of “death to the Jews” being chanted outside a synagogue in Tunisia shows:
The use of the term “Arab Street” has nothing to do with those in the Arab world who preach tolerance and want peace. Those demonstrators should be praised. Unfortunately, those with a Western bent never seem to control the street for long.
The “Arab Street” is bad enough when it is marching outside a synagogue in a country which has few Jews left.
If the “Arab Street” takes over the largest military in the Arab world bordering Israel, I wonder if Roger Cohen still will be singing its praises.
Everything which is taking place this week in the Muslim world was forseeable in February 2011 on the streets of Tunis, in the sexual assault on Lara Logan just after Cohen’s column (chanting Jew! Jew!), in the million people who greeted an anti-Semitic cleric in Cairo, and in the rapid elimination within weeks of the Google Guy from the revolutionary stage.
Cohen was far from alone, as the media in general whitewashed the gathering storm, but the writers and editors of The NY Times were among the most aggressive in this regard, distorting the backgrounds of those involved and the false promises of the Muslim Brotherhood not to run a candidate for President.
Despite all we know now, Cohen still is peddling his false narrative that the Islamists are the victims of a right-wing American and Israeli smear.
In a column on September 13, 2012, Cohen again made excuses for the Islamists, blamed Republican bigotry, and even implicated the Israelis after it was pretty clear the creator of the movie at issue was not Israeli or Jewish. Our Man in Benghazi:
The makers, funders and promoters of the video, called “Innocence of Muslims,” represent the worst of an American bigotry whose central tenet is that Islam is evil, a religion bent on the takeover of the world and followed by people who are all violent extremists, Jew-haters and sexual predators.
The movie, a procession of insults to Muslims against a background of comically flimsy sets, is of a piece with the ideology, praised at times by Republicans including Newt Gingrich, that has sought to portray Shariah law as a mortal threat to America, perceived stealth jihadists knocking at every door from Phoenix to Peoria, and worked hard to persuade the world that Barack Obama is a Muslim.
Whoever made the film — it was uploaded to YouTube in July by somebody calling himself Sam Bacile and identifying himself as an Israeli-American real estate developer — was driven by the visceral loathing of Islam that forms a significant current in post-9/11 right-wing thinking in the United States.
Is Cohen really so naive that he doesn’t see that the film was a pretext, not a reason for the current violence?
Caroline Glick points out the obvious:
A word about the much mentioned film about Muhammad is in order. The film was apparently released about a year ago. It received little notice until last month when a Salafi television station in Egypt broadcast it.
In light of the response, the purpose of the broadcast was self-evident. The broadcasters screened the film to incite anti-American violence.
Had they not been interested in attacking the US, they would not have screened the film.
They sought a pretext for attacking America. If the film had never been created, they would have found another – equally ridiculous – pretext.
Cohen goes on to blame Romney as the great danger to the United States for criticizing as inappropriate an Embassy statement which the White House has acknowledged was inappropriate:
Even coming from a man who on a brief trip abroad in late July lost no opportunity to put his foot in his mouth, blundering into squabbles with the British and the Palestinians, this was heavy-handed. In fact, to use Romney’s word, it was disgraceful.
The Obama administration never expressed sympathy for the assailants. It never apologized for American values. What the Cairo embassy did, as violence brewed in the Egyptian capital and well before the Benghazi attack, was to condemn “actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others” — specifically Muslims.
Few people have been as dangerously wrong as Cohen. Few people who have been as dangerously wrong as Cohen are more proud of it.
In my prior post in February 2011, linked above, I asked
“If the “Arab Street” takes over the largest military in the Arab world bordering Israel, I wonder if Roger Cohen still will be singing its praises.”
We now know the answer.
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What is the essential difference between “Innocence of Muslims” and the productions of PaliWood…???
The latter calls for the extermination of a nation and people. Teaches it to children, in fact.
And they have better production values, paid for by Americans.
Two things about Romney that I think are shown clearly this week:
1. he is not bashful about supporting the Constitution, and
2. he gets who the Islamists are, contra Mr. Cohen and his M Tee Chair hero.
By inference, it also seems that Romney does not indulge in magic thinking, nor is he afraid of speaking with the press, contra Mr. Cohen and his thought leader, Obama.
Most people, including Republicans, do not get who Muslims are> Republicans approach Muslims as they approach a nation, not an ideology. Every attempt to simply show military might will simply kill some and incite the rest. From what I understand the greatest Al Quida nation is now Iraq! Osama is dead but thousands take to the streets in a rampage. Navy seals won’t win this war.
I don’t think they get it. Romney wants a war on Muslim nations, including Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and more. He wants a war on the “under classes” of America in the name of “jobs” that will come only if the providers of those jobs get “tax breaks” He is against simple unions and thus freedom of association. (History shows tax cuts do not create jobs, but they do create deficits.) http://zfacts.com/node/320 Ours is a nation of laws. We need a lawyer who understands that in the White House.
Than you are voting Romney this election cycle.
To be clear, we have had little in the way of choice in Middle East thugs and rulers the last half-century.
In Egypt alone, we went from King Farouk to Nasser to Sadat to Mubarek to Mursi. None was a prize. None were (are) committed to democracy as we would understand the term. Nasser was a pan-Arabist who ruled his country harshly so as to further his dream, while Sadat and Mubarek ruled harshly to stay in power, feather their nests and take care of their friends. Mursi is a pan-Islamicist who will rule harshly to further his dream, and along the way he’ll take care of his friends.
You could point to each and every Arab country and find a similar pattern. So when the ‘Arab Spring’ blew up, it was a simple case, repeated in each country, of “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”.
Overlay that with the Islamcisim that has come up in the last quarter century as a reaction to this very decadence and the threat that Western liberal ideas have posed to fundamental Islam, and it’s clear that we in the West have had few choices.
In all seriousness, and I’m the last person to defend Obama, as of spring 2012, what were his choices? Mubarek was old and ailing. He wasn’t going to last. His son, his cronies and his henchman were thugs and bullies with no popular support. The Muslim Brotherhood, itself composed of thugs, had the single advantage of having opposed Sadat and Mubarek, and thus were able to pose as the classic outsider coming to the rescue of the people.
What were our other choices? El-Baradei, the enable of Iranian nuclear ambition at the IAEA? Heh. There were no other choices in Egypt.
What were the choices in Libya? We had Daffy, one of his even-worse henchmen, al-Qaeda, or, um, um, um, oh right. No one. That’s just who is in charge these days.
Then there is Syria. Bashir Assad (aka, ‘Pencilneck’) is an odious, genocidal killer every bit as bad as his daddy. Do we have another choice there? Does the ‘rebel alliance’ look like the leaders of the American revolution? Why no, I don’t see a Madison among them.
From Algeria to Iran, our choices have generally sucked. That’s why the Arab Spring hasn’t worked.
Again, I don’t defend Obama and Hillary. But this time they haven’t been helped at all by the situation.
I think that his thoughts, first and foremost, or even exclusively, should have been asking what is in the best interests of the government of the United States.
It is pretty clear to me that he is not too terribly interested in that portion of his job description.
His policies and actions, however well meaning (I personally think the man is saturated in malice, but that is beside the point), have led to much tumult in the Muslim world directed straight at the United States.
And his reaction to the assassination and desecration of our Ambassador has been well neigh criminal.
If you had treated one of your patients with the callous disregard for his safety and security as the Obama administration had for the Ambassador, you would be in jail right now.
I make clear what I think about the murder of our ambassador over at Rantburg. I yield to no one in recognizing that for what it is: assassination, planned and premeditated, by al-Qaeda.
Obama’s reaction to that assassination is despicable. He doesn’t get it.
That wasn’t Prof. Jacobson’s point in this post.
We do not have good choices for nudging, nurturing, or cajoling new, enlightened leadership in the Middle East. There are no Madisons, no Jeffersons, no Lincolns in those lands today. The most wise, enlightened American president you could wish for (pick one) would be stuck.
The ‘Arab Spring’ was going nowhere, and Obama is at fault for thinking that it would. He and Hillary would have known better if they had done their homework.
But there’s no magic solution in the Middle East short of a true Reformation for Islam. I sure don’t see that coming.
stevewhitemd, you said:
“we do not have good choices for nudging, nur turing, or cajoling new enlightened leadership in the Middle East.”
It appears you think that if we had better choices, we could nudge, nurture and cajole new leadership in the Middle East. You would be flat out wrong, and here’s why:
When times get tough, people turn to religion. It happened after September 11, 2001 as people started returning to whatever church they formerly attended or was raised in. The same applies to the Middle East. As the economy there sucks, in some cases to princes who talk all the money for themselves, just as the elite do in Mexico, people turn to their religion. In this case the religion is Islam.
There is nothing in Islam that is compatable with Western values or the Western culture. It is actually quite the reverse of Western culture. So as people in the Middle East continue to see economic hardships, they will never blame it on the Imams who preach “Death to the U.S., Death to Israel” and who live quite well inspite of rampant poverty in their respective nations. The Imams are smart enough to know that the anger that comes with poverty has to be redirected and so they take full advantage of the Sayyid Qtub philosophy of hating the West.
We have only two opinions and they are the only two respected by Middle Eastern radicals: might and strength. No nudging, no nurturing, no cajoling. Brute strenght that says if you kill one of us, we kill 100 of you. If you assassinate one of ours in your country, we make a parking lot of the town where it happened. That is what the Islamic street understands because it is what they have been taught.
There is one other thing that we could do: when there are protests against the U.S., we notify that nation’s leadership that ALL foreign aid will be suspended immediately. Ever notice how all those Middle Eastern nations live to give interviews sitting in golden chairs? They love the money sent to them by the U.S. that allows the Arab leadership live in the lap of luxury while their citizens have no running water, no toilet facilities, no access to decent food. And they live high on the hog from the aid money they steal. Let Morsi face having to live like the worst ghetto child in Cairo and watch what happens.
Change will only come to the Middle East when Islam experiences a reformation and goes from the Religion of Pieces to an actually peaceful religion. Until then, our options are not the ones we would choose if we had a choice, but they are the only options we have if we don’t want to watch more Americans die.
Some of Obama’s first acts in office were to do things that Bush would NEVER have done. He thereby signaled the world that he would be weak against foes, and a fickle friend (at best).
He could have tipped the balance in Iran during their infant revolt by merely opening his gob, and he just sucked his teeth.
That one act could have propagated a continuance of what we’d seen in the voting in Iraq and Afghanistan…a real democratic trajectory…stronger still in a nation like Iran, with its very young, but well-educated population.
When he and Hill-larry did what they did WRT Honduras, I knew just who we were dealing with in terms of their foreign policy.
Hi, Steve. It’s good to see your byline at LI again. You always add insight even when I disagree with you.
Like others, I took notice that your post did not lay greater stress on America’s national interest. However, your remarks make perfect sense as the viewpoint of a decent, rational, well-intentioned citizen of the world. Seems to me you end up stymied.
I conclude that, unless our strategy is to keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best, a toolkit consisting solely of decency, reason, and good intentions is inadequate to deal with Islam, especially in the Middle East.
Come on, professor. The Cairo branch of the Cohen family is probably sitting with their neighbors, the Sulzbergers, at a sidewalk cafe just off Tahrir Square, enjoying an espresso on a warm, fall evening, texting cousin Roger even as we speak.
(Pssst, Roger, better stay here. You’re no Christopher Stevens. Your man in DC could not and would not help him so trust me, you’ve got no friends, anywhere.)
In my prior post in February 2011, linked above, I asked “If the “Arab Street” takes over the largest military in the Arab world bordering Israel, I wonder if Roger Cohen still will be singing its praises.”
Kipling would have recognized Roger Cohen:
That’s three things. Unfortunately, there is a fourth:
I hope the electorate is sane on November 6.
Hopefully I’ll be chosen as the casting director for the next Borat film, “The Arab Street,” and I’ll cast a cross-dressed Roger Cohen as Lara Logan and send him out for some improvisation in the Tahrir Square crowd for a little comical cross-cultural intercourse.
Cohen is of the despicable stripe of collaborator Jew who went around with Nazi death squads to point and say “There be a Jew” in order to save his own miserable hide. The N.Y.T. has a history of these types. During the Cold War it ran from Walter Durranty thru Anthony Lewis , both unashamed commies on the staff of the N.Y.T. as virtual mouthpieces for the Soviets. I will never forget Lewis’s fawning defense of the Soviets as they crushed the Prague Spring. Cohen too has a like ,long history.
Today’s NY Times:
“After days of anti-American violence across the Muslim world, the White House is girding itself for an extended period of turmoil that will test…President Obama’s ability to shape the forces of change in the Arab world.”
In the immortal syllable of James Taranto: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…
This is an example of the premeditated madness that prevails in our country today. These people actually ponder over the words they will put on paper and this is the inanity that is found fit to print, and given approval by editors. “Insane” is almost a too mild word to describe it…it is much more deliberate and sinister than that because there is a pathology to it that seems to border on a mental illness. Perhaps “maniacal” is more apt since it better describes the frenzy of mental activity they must experience to produce such nonsense.
The Green revolution in Iran was the first part of Obama’s test, which he failed. He only supports uprisings that will topple leaders that have supported the US. The current chaos was shaped by Obama. Current violence is the RESULT of the tests he has failed.
Of course the other d’Souza like version may mean Obama wants Iran to get nukes to balance the power, and a Middle East Caliphate suits him fine. His test is whether he can get reelected while constantly acting against American interests, even domestically. The NY Times, America’s Pravda, will cover his every step. More “hilarity” will follow.
Most of the opinion coming from the NYT of late seems to me, a non-Jew, borderline anti-Semitic. One has to go a step beyond taking the Palestinian side versus Israel on many occasions. You have to also place Israeli leadership in the role of highest responsibility for the conflict. Further, you have to also actively (deceitfully?) discount most of what Israel calls a threat. The NYT succeeds on all counts with regularity.
I have a daughter who is a college student in D.C. On the evening when Mubarak essentially abdicated, she got caught up in the hoopla near the White House and sent me an email trumpeting “Egypt is free!” She didn’t want to hear my cautionary admonitions. As one of my high school teachers used to exclaim fairly frequently, “The rashness of youth.”
But that doesn’t explain the rapture of Obama and Clinton at the developments in Cairo.
Cohen reminds me of the unctuous useful idiot in Die Hard who thinks he’s savvy enough to negotiate with Hans the terrorist–and ends up eating a bullet sandwich.
Or Senator William Borah:
“Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler—all this might have been averted.”
I guess we’re supposed to believe that all of those thousands of rampaging goons saw that youtube “film,” but none of them heard Obama’s Cairo speech.
Either that or Obama’s speech had absolutely no effect whatsoever. I don’t mean to be blasphemous. Please don’t take me away.
From the wayback machine, some comments on the ‘Arab Street’ (Mohammedanism in those days) quoted at Sister Toldjah’s blog by Phinneas:
If obama and the dims in congress allowed us to drill for our own oil these muslim countries would not have the cash to be much of a threat. That is, if we didn’t give them mega bucks on the side. BTW, why do these oil rich countries need our aid? I am not a fan of giving money to any other country. For one thing, we can no longer afford it and for another it does not garner any goodwill for us. These countries only understand force and we have been weak nellies for the past few years.
I suppose one answer to your question about why mega bucks have been “given” to the extremists for their oil instead of drilling for one’s own is that the taxpayer has pacifically walked on, head down, letting Congress take this money out of his pocket without even so much as a sniff of protest.
Until such time as the voter threatens to withhold his vote if his representative in congress does not please, nothing much will change.
Dr.Fouad Ajami’s cryptic summation of the ‘Mind Set’ of the Arab Street: BELIGERANT SELF-PITY.
Jeepers, with that basic to their contemporary DNA, no wonder butchers-tyrants play them like hookahs.