Written by Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal, Feb. 15, 2011.
“It’s what the good people on West 40th Street like to call a “Times Classic.” On Feb. 16, 1979, the New York Times ran a lengthy op-ed by Richard Falk, a professor of international law at Princeton, under the headline “Trusting Khomeini.”
“The depiction of (Khomeini) as fanatical, reactionary and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false,” wrote Mr. Falk. “What is also encouraging is that his entoruage of close advisers in uniformly composed of moderate, progressive individuals”.
After carrying on in this vein for a few paragraphs, the professor concluded: “Having created a new model of popular revolution based, for the most part, on nonviolent tactics, Iran may yet provide us with a desperately needed model of humane governance for a third-world country.”
The Times is at it again. Last week, the paper published an op-ed from Essam El-Errian, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Council, who offered this soothing take on his organization: “We aim to achieve reform and rights for all: not just for the Muslim Brotherhood, not just for Muslims, but for all Egyptians.” Concurring with that view, Times Reporter Nicholas Kulish wrote on Feb. 4 that members of the Brotherhood “come-across as civic-minded people of faith.
It’s easy to be taken in by the Brotherhood: Eight decades as a disciplined underground organization, outwardly involved in charitable social work, have made them experta at tailoring messages to separate audiences. The Brotherhood has also been careful to distinguish itself from the Salafist followers of Sayyid Quith, himself a Muslim Brother who developed the concept of ‘takfir’, which allows one Muslim to denounce another Muslim as an apostate and treat him accordingly. “The thought of the Brotherhood doesn’t have the tendency to…..take violent measures,” Muhammad Habib, the Brotherhood’s former deputy supreme guide, told me in Cairo in 2006.
But if that counts for moderation in the context oof intra-Islamic politics, it hardly makes the Brotherhood moderate by Western standards. Hassan al-Bama (1906-1949), the Brotherhood’s founder, was an admirer of the fascist movements of his day, and he had similar ambitions for his own movement.
“Andalusia, Sicily, the Balkans, south Italy and the Roman sea islands were all Islamic lands that have to be restored to the homeland of Islam,” he wrote in a message dedicated to Muslim youth. “As Signor Mussolini believed that it was within his right to revive the Roman Empire….similarly it is our right to restore to the Islamic empire its glory.”
Today the Brotherhood has adopted a political strategy in keeping with Banna’s dictum that the movement must not overreach on its way toward (sugjugating) every unjust ruler to its command”: “Each of these stages,” he cautioned his followers, “involves certain steps, branches, and means.” Thus the Brotherhood has gone out of its way in recent weeks to appear in the most benign light, making an ally of former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei and forswearing any immediate political ambitions.
But that doesn’t mean the Brothers don’t have an idea of what they’re aiming for. “We think highly of a country whose president is important, courageous and has a vision, which he presents in the U.N. in Geneva, and everywhere,” the Brotherhood’s Kamal al-Hilbawi told Iran’s Al-Alam TV earlier this month, referring to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust and 9/11 denials. “We think highly of a country….that confronts Western hegemony, and is scientifically and technologically advanced. Unfortunately, these characteristics can be found only in the Islamic Republic of Iran. I hope that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia will be like that.”
Nor should there be any doubt about what the Brotherhood is aiming against. “Resistance is the only solution against the ZioAmerican arrogance and tyranny, Muhammad Badie, the Brotherhood’s supreme guide, sermonized in October. “The improvement and change that the Muslim nation seeks can only be attained….by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life.”
Such remarks may come as a rude shock to James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence who last week testified in Congress that the Brotherhood was “largely secular” (a remark his office later retracted). They may also surprise a coterie of Western analysts who are convinced that the Brotherhood is moving in a moderate direction and will only be further domesticated by participation in democratic politics. Yet the evidence for that supposition rests mainly on what the Brotherhood tells Westerners. What it says in Arabic is another story.
In 2005, candidates for the Brotherhood took 20% of the parliamentary vote. Gamal al-Banna, Hassan’s youngest brother, once told me they command as much as 40% support. Neither figure is a majority. But unless Egypt’s secular forces can coalesce into serious political parties, the people for whom Islam is the solution won’t find the fetters of democracy to be much of a problem.”
Comment: Dennis Prager spent almost an hour today reading glowing reports from the New York Times in 1979 Irani revolution. The raved about such courage these passive peace lover sectarians mustered in the revolution against the Shah. These are leftwing reporters revealing their beliefs of that day over thirty years ago. They seem niaeve as children. They keep repeating their blindness whereever there is group pillaging something against America.
Journalism school folks were not very well educated about important matters then. With the collapse of knowledge taught since that time in the American university, with now a majority of women in the insitutuion, romance replaces knowledge among the left. Courage is measured by ones antiAmericanism.
Dennis is very pessimistic about Egypt’s future…..He’s right on. Much will depend upon the American supported Egyptian army’s actions in the coming months. I does seem to be one of the most civilized institutions in the area outside of Israel.