Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Right and Egypt

As you may recall, I often spend time at right-wing websites. It has been striking how much discomfort the libertarian right  has shown with the revolution in Egypt.

After all, libertarians are supposed to be against tyranny, right? That seems like a pretty basic requirement. And the Tea Party arm is always talking about "taking back our country." Yet here are Egyptians doing just that, and libertarians have trouble supporting them.

The obvious problem is that Egyptians are mostly Muslim. Not that the right is intolerant. No, no, no, no, no. It's just that, according to the right, Muslims are intolerant. Also violent and lacking the traditions necessary for democracy. So we need to be careful. Accordingly, a few months ago voters in Oklahoma passed a remarkably silly ballot measure barring judges from considering sharia law in their courts. This, in turn, came a few months after the morally decayed Newt Gingrich (just so you know, I'm going to start using that as a sort of Homeric epithet, like "the wine-dark sea" or "the rosy-fingered dawn") proposed a Federal law to the same effect to apply nationwide, as a barrier against the "stealth jihadis."

So what about Egypt? People on the right explained, to those who had forgotten, that Iran had had a revolution, and look what happened to them. One blogger at the Volokh Conspiracy explained that he hadn't taken a position because it was too soon to know whether the revolution would make things better or worse. (I asked whether by the same logic he would be voting for Obama in 2012.)

Meanwhile, Glenn Beck raised my opinion of his ethics by moving from "probably an unscrupulous demagogue" to "probably mentally unhinged." He's now developed an elaborate theory in which the Muslim Brotherhood establishes a caliphate (it became the #3 search term on Google) with the collusion of leftists, and ends up divvying up most of the world with China and Russia, leaving North and South America  as the last holdouts.

That's the obvious problem that the right has with the Egyptian revolution. The hidden problem is that it makes the right's rhetoric about America look ridiculous. Tyranny in Egypt is arbitrary arrest, beatings, torture, state control of the media, rigged elections. Tyranny in America is having to pay a tax penalty if you don't buy health insurance. Lucky Egyptians-- they don't have to buy health insurance! In fact, most of them don't even have health insurance! Taking back your country meant, in Egypt, going out into the street to demonstrate peacefully and facing thugs throwing Molotov cocktails. Taking back your country in America means going to Town Hall meetings and shouting down the speaker. The nerve of those Egyptians-- who do they think they are?

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