There is a stink in Egypt, and as usual, the Left is running from America and Israel with a clothespin on its nose. Champions of secular freedom are often treated like skunks at a garden party. But the Left — in its failure to understand the difference between the despot-ridden Middle East and the democratic west – is the real source of the foul smell.
In Monday’s Guardian online, Kenan Malik writes:
The spread of the contagion of protest across north Africa, from Tunisia to Egypt and beyond, has not just been exhilarating, it has also given the lie to the myth that people in Muslim countries have a different mindset to those in the west, and that democracy and secularism are western concepts alien to the political culture of Egypt or Jordan or Yemen.
He asserts that the demonstrators who have taken over the streets want “not an Islamic state, but a more open, democratic society, with freedom of expression and the protection of individual liberties.”
Malik sounds the alarm against “secular politicians, both in Muslim countries and in the west, creating opportunities for religious bigots.” The difference is that though secular politicians in both cultures often attempt to exploit bigotry, in America this never succeeds for long. The great majority of religious Americans are not bigots. They cherish the freedoms our ancestors won in two hundred years of hard-fought struggle.
“Secular regimes across the Arab world,” says Malik, “have unleashed the dogs of militant religion in an effort to keep in check leftwing radicals – only to be savaged themselves by the beasts they have let loose.” Yes, this has happened – in the Arab world. Despite Malik’s attempts to equate the west with the Middle East, it has never happened here.
America is different. Israel – our staunch ally in that strife-torn region – is different. The Left may ignore this difference, even lie about it. The crazies can’t seize control here, but people like Malik refuse to recognize why that won’t happen.
We must root for secular democracy to reassert itself in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. But we must also recognize that if these were cultures rooted in a Judeo-Christian concept of freedom, we would not have to worry that power would end up in the hands of those who brandish the Koran and shout “Death to America!” I am not merely an American because I happened to be born here. I am an American – and a Christian (though one who interprets the Bible differently from many other American Christians) – by choice.
Those who would blur the differences between the traditions in Judeo-Christian cultures and those in Islamic lands, or who point away from the implications of those differences, should be resisted. They are the modern incarnation of the Serpent in the Garden. At every garden party, thanks be to God that there are skunks.