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.DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.