Free Markets, Free People

Egypt: Here’s a surprise

Ok not really, at least if you’re from this planet and have observed the Middle East for more than a day:

Islamists claimed a decisive victory on Wednesday as early election results put them on track to win a dominant majority in Egypt’s first Parliament since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, the most significant step yet in the religious movement’s rise since the start of the Arab Spring.

The party formed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s mainstream Islamist group, appeared to have taken about 40 percent of the vote, as expected. But a big surprise was the strong showing of ultraconservative Islamists, called Salafis, many of whom see most popular entertainment as sinful and reject women’s participation in voting or public life.

Analysts in the state-run news media said early returns indicated that Salafi groups could take as much as a quarter of the vote, giving the two groups of Islamists combined control of nearly 65 percent of the parliamentary seats.

What does that mean?

The unexpected rise of a strong ultraconservative Islamist faction to the right of the Brotherhood is likely to shift Egypt’s cultural and political center of gravity to the right as well. Leaders of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party will likely feel obliged to compete with the ultraconservatives for Islamist voters, and at the same time will not feel the same need to compromise with liberals to form a government.

“It means that, if the Brotherhood chooses, Parliament can be an Islamists affair — a debate between liberal Islamists, moderate Islamists and conservatives Islamists, and that is it,” Michael Wahid Hanna, an Egyptian-born researcher at the Century Foundation in Cairo, said this week.

Sorry, got to laugh at the use of “unexpected” in this case.  Unexpected by whom?  Oh yeah, those who thought “Arab Spring” would mean secular democracy would suddenly pop up in a place that had never seen it before.  Yup, naturally Islamists, one of the best organized and most ruthless blocs in the region, were going to roll over and cede the field to secular types. 

And what does this portend?

The Brotherhood has pledged to respect basic individual freedoms while using the influence of the state to nudge the culture in a more traditional direction. But the Salafis often talk openly of laws mandating a shift to Islamic banking, restricting the sale of alcohol, providing special curriculums for boys and girls in public schools, and censoring the content of the arts and entertainment.

Their leaders have sometimes proposed that a special council of religious scholars advise Parliament or the top courts on legislation’s compliance with Islamic law. Egyptian election laws required the Salafi parties to put at least one woman on their electoral roster for each district, but they put the women last on their lists to ensure they would not be elected, and some appear with pictures of flowers in place of their faces on campaign posters.

Sheik Hazem Shouman, an important Salafi leader, recently rushed into a public concert on the campus of Mansoura University to try to persuade the crowd to turn away from the “sinful” performance and go home. He defended his actions on a television talk show, saying he had felt like a doctor making an emergency intervention to save a patient dying of cancer.

Note his “intervention” was an attempt at persuasion.   Now that’s not going to be necessary, is it?  Persuasion will eventually turn to coercion – see “censoring the content of the arts and entertainment” above.

Back to the 12th century. 

Let freedom ring.


Twitter: @McQandO

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131 Responses to Egypt: Here’s a surprise

  • Damn this Arab Spring after the Militarist Fall is rapidly becoming an Islamist Summer and really making it hard to find a cheap holiday in the European Winter.

    • @DocD Outsourcing “Hope and Change” does have it’s drawbacks.

      • @Neo_ Can I get a cheap line of credit from Obama to compensate for the extra cash I’ll need to spend in order to get some winter sun? Don’t the OWS yoof have a policy for “responsibility to protect middle class Mediterranean holidays”?

        • @DocD @Neo_ “Don’t the OWS yoof have a policy for “responsibility to protect middle class Mediterranean holidays”? ”

          Only when they’re the ones taking them you big silly 🙂

        • @looker @Neo_ Shoot, maybe I’ll humor the missus and we can occupy Florida for a couple of weeks.

  • No surprise, but necessary. Repressive dictatorships have programmed that the first step in transition will be an Islamicist turn. That’s nothing to fear. The demographics and the pressures within the country will continue, and are necessary. It’s a good thing, even if it will be a bumpy path into the future. After all, no one can really claim that it’s good to have repressive regimes like Gaddafi’s and Mubarak’s in power. The path out of the shadow of the Ottoman Empire isn’t a leap towards western values. The West took over 600 years and went through the holocaust, communism, world wars, slavery, colonial conquest, and the like. Don’t expect the Arab world to leap there without problems, that would be naive. But they are starting a change that is ultimately for the good. Our best bet is be patient and not intervene. It’s their business, not ours. And it’s an exciting and necessary change for a region whose youth are finally throwing off anachronistic dictatorships and heading towards the future!

    • @scotterb There is no parody like an Erp self-parody.

      …he said “anachronistic”… I love it when he says that….!!!

    • @scotterb Blut und Ehre. R2P. You spin me right round baby right round …

    • @scotterb Like there was no slavery in the Caliphate, or conquests, and the like.

      You are such an apologist tool for your beliefs. And if they weren’t so crappy, you wouldn’t have to keep making excuses for them.

      • @looker There you go with your 20th century thinking again. Just don’t mention that the only vaguely modern and civilized remainder of the old Ottoman empire is Turkey, and they are only they way because an ideological, military man with a great admiration for the West and an aversion to Islam dragged them kicking and screaming nearly a century ago… but the rest, myah, let’s wait for the yoof to kicj it up a notch.

    • @scotterb Patient, not intervene – yeah, we’ve only been waiting the same 600 years. You know, they weren’t on another planet the whole time, they were on the other side of the Mediterranean, and, came up the Danube to the gates of Vienna at one point.

      So, patient…..what, you think maybe next year, or the year after?

      A change, ultimately for the good – so, if they wander back into something like being a satrapie of the Caliphate, that will be ultimately good change eh? You poli-sci genius you. And still claiming it’s the youth that’s driving this…the factory needs to recall your degree.

      • @looker @scotterb Given that Europe essentially conquered the planet and the history of the West has more blood and destruction than that of any other culture, it’s amusing for you to be in a snit over the Ottoman’s making it Vienna! History unfolds, looker, and this is a good thing — a good first step. No need for fear.

        • @scotterb @looker It’s not a “first” step. It’s not a “good” step. It’s a deepening of an ongoing catastrophe. There will now be a merger between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military, both socialist, which will make the former Mubarek variant of the military regime look modern, in a state collapsing in end-stage socialism.

        • @scotterb This is a good thing – you say that a lot – to use an overquoted but apt line – I do not think it means what you think it means.

          Which part of women being refused suffrage or a place in public life is your good thing, where does that fit Professor “I can’t be wrong”. When will it NOT be a good thing? Go ahead, ignore that question, tell us how some people (over half the population) will have to suffer until they sort of come around, and we should give them some time, it’s growing pains.

          You know, the West, who you mock so frequently, had NO existing examples as it went forward on it’s quest to today. The West built on the past, till we achieved where we are, hell, a good portion of our legal thinking started out in THEIR region of the world. From an eye for an eye forward.

          The Islamist world was walking right beside us the whole time, they’ve emigrated into Europe and back again, they have examples, they can see what does and does not work, they’ve watched us struggle with it for the 600 years you’re babbling about.

          And yet they yearn for the authoritarian religious government of the 12th century.

          So, put a sock in it, I don’t intent to be patient and forgiving. They aren’t on another planet, they have access to information, they have examples. If the Indians went back to practicing Sati (Sutee) it wouldn’t be good, and the world wouldn’t be patient with it. I don’t see any reason to be patient other than I have no other choice in the matter, but it isn’t because I’m prepared to overlook and excuse their backward cultural drift.

          You though, think it’ s okay, because your attitudes say you think they’re inferior to you, and so you’ll coddle them like the ignorant inferiors they are and forgive their occasional excesses so long as they are only practicing them upon each other. How very Victorian English of you.

        • @scotterb Really? We can exceed the blood shed by Stalin? We can exceed Pol Pot? Mao Tse Dong? And that’s just this last freaking century.
          I didn’t even have to reach back to the Mongols, or the Huns or the Jihadi expansion across the middle east, North Africa, Spain. Frankly, it’s not probable that the cumulative conquests of the west going back to Rome killed as many people because there just weren’t that many people available on the planet to kill.

          And the West so infrequently genocides the indigenous population, because, as you like to point out, we preferred to enslave them and take over their countries.
          Hard to make productive use for the Empire out of empty cities and worker-less fields.

        • @looker Stalinism and Communism came from the West, the crimes of communism had their orgins in a German who did his writings in Great Britain. WWI, WWII, colonialism, etc. But whether or not you’re patient looker is irrelevant — they’re going to create their own future and they don’t really care what you think! Cultures develop slowly, to expect dramatic change over night is naive. To expect them to embrace the same things the West embraces is ignorantly naive. Remember, we had slavery, women couldn’t vote, etc. Change takes time — what would have early Americans done if a superior force tried to attack in 1803 to force us to get rid of slavery? We’d have united against the outside invader!

          So settle back, relax, and watch — there’s not much you can do anyway, it’s out of our hands!

        • @scotterb @looker Oy vey. Now I definitely have heard everything. This implicit variant of “the West is to blame for everything” is so gropingly obvious that one hardly notices the excuses made for tyranny and tyrants, not to mention the botched abortion performed on historical context.

        • @looker Sometimes someone manages to scratch just the right spot, like you did looker, and it triggers a flow of what the pontif actually believes and it ain’t pretty. It is also internally contradictory and flows in a Zen like manner to avoid taking a position but always presents its face to the wind, whichever way it’s blowing. It makes you wonder how such a being can exist inside a reality without going mad, until you shake yourself out of the haze and remember that all those post-modernists (reality is subjective, narrative is cultural but by f**k don’t you dare cut off my totally objective and concrete pay-check!) have to present *something* to justify their overblown salaries. Even if it is on a par of “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”. Then you can pour yourself a scotch sit back and enjoy the evening with the family.

        • @scotterb Marx, ah, so, they’re not the west, and can’t take examples from the west, unless they’re bad examples. I see. Where, exactly, did Marx advocate genocide? Did I miss that chapter, or was it only 1 paragraph, in Das Kapital?

          And as expected, completely avoided the issue of their treatment of women. Right, we had slavery – mindless anti-western propaganda, nearly every culture this planet ever spawned has had slavery, that’s like claiming only we had 2 hands and 2 feet. In fact there are parts of the Islamic world where slavery is still going on, though not with the verve of the Islamic raids on Southern Europe in the 15th century.

          I didn’t expect Egypt to embrace the West, you did, you were the one rambling on about how wonderful Arab Spring was, and how the youth were going to bring forth the flower of democracy from the dictatorship of Mubarak.

          I’ve maintained all along that what is happening is exactly what WOULD happen from the first indications that the gatherings in Tarhir Square were going to go beyond a one day hissy fit. You’re the one having to dine on crow – this is working out exactly as I expected, there is no surprise here for me.

          And you’re right, they’re going to do what they will, but I am not excusing it, like you.

          And I’m not afraid of them either, because if need be, we’ll squash them and any threat they might present.

        • @scotterb @looker good first step. No need for fear.

          >>>> I can think of 3000 people who have no need for fear (or air or water or food for that matter) also

        • @looker By the same logic the Jews are responsible for all crimes perpetrated in the name of Christianity and Islam, since both are derivative of Judaism. See, all the ills of the world really are the fault of the Joos and the West, you just need to contort reality and gullibility far enough.

        • @scotterb And by the way, I was trying to make the point that they were literally on the same ground we were at one point, not that they were conquering us, but if that’s what you think of them, fine. They were here, they watched us grow, they decided to keep their authoritarian theocracy when they had clearly viable, functioning, operational, successful, alternative forms of government. I’d care not if they were only just utilizing those examples NOW and moving forward, but they are deliberately moving BACKWARDS and yet you sit there with an internet idiot grin on your face, and airily telling us that stepping backwards towards 1100 AD is really a good thing.

          It’s only a good thing because you don’t think you’ll have been wrong, and that’s all that really matters to you.

        • @looker @scotterb Most of Erb’s monologues are just straight-up non sequitur. He is presented with a situation: Arab Spring is turning into an Islamist nightmare as predicted by various paleolithic cretins at the time. He presents his wisdom of ages (a statement of the trivially true, but devoid of information): The people there will likely decide their fate. He stuns us with his sagacity (the non sequitur): Therefore we should not worry or think they will screw it up. He stops, because the logical next step is to look for cases where “don’t worry be happy” lead to death camps as people decided that their own fate could easily accomodate just a smidge of industrial genocide and continental warfare. After all people deciding their own fate never think that finding a common enemy is the best way to bond. Of course if you are a pontif in a safe little town in backwoods USA then you can afford to hold those views and play the pomo parlor games.

        • @DocD @scotterb Hey, I was ready to applaud them stepping out of dictatorship and into some form of representative government, I even realized it might mean there were some fundamentalists in government positions. But I was never optimistic it would happen, I was sadly convinced it would be exactly what it is becoming.

          Professor Handwavey on the other hand told us were were all backwards, 20th century bound curmudgeons and that we were about to be surprised at how the ‘youth’, via some magic conferred on them through Ipods, Iphones and the internet, were going to prove us wrong with their drive towards democracy.

          He can’t see where a fundamentalist state, coupled with several other now nearby headed over the edge fundamentalist states (Maybe he doesn’t realize Libya borders on Egypt, but who can tell, considering his understanding of Scandinavia) might be a serious threat to one of our allies who they just happen to really really really really dislike, a lot.

          Then again, maybe he thinks it’s all good and positive if they create a theocratic democracy that votes to destroy Israel and close the Suez to the West.

        • @martinmcphillips @looker To quote the band Rush: “It’s the motor of the western world, spinning off to every extreme, pure as a lover’s desire evil as a murder’s dream.” The West has done great evil and great good. The West brought fascism and communism, as well as conceptions of individual liberty and market economics. We’ve colonized the planet and destroyed cultures, we’ve cured diseases and built great cities. The point is we did not get to where we are culturally without centuries of development. To expect a culture that hasn’t gone through such development to leap to something that fulfills the values we have now would be very naive. This is one of the things Huntington warns about in “Clash of Civilizations,” a book that is still very relevant nearly 20 years on.

        • @looker Indeed, they were ahead of us at one point. If not for Islamic rationalists Thomas Aquinas would have never discovered Aristotle and started the moves in the West towards progress and enlightenment. The renaissance was spurred on by information from the Islamic world. Then thanks to the crusades and Asian attacks the Ottomans created an essentially military dictatorship, sided with the religious conservatives against the rationalists and the Islamic world was put in the deep freeze. The West passed them in the 1600s and only now are they starting to wake up and deal with the reality of globalization. The claim “they watched us grow and choose to keep” the Ottoman empire is bizarre and untrue. It was a closed authoritarian system, it kept out knowledge about the West from most, and limited any chance to make changes. It’s absurd to think they’ll go backwards, they forces of globalization and economic reality are too strong. Get rid of prejudices and bias — in any event, it’s not like they’re going to go away.

        • @scotterb @martinmcphillips @looker To quote Rush?!? Hang on, I’ve just got to go and dig out a few old Banarama LPs. Quoting poorly aging music and throwing in some cultural condescension… that really is grasping at some limp straws.

        • @scotterb @looker To quote Rush?!? Hang on, I’ve just got to go and dig out a few old Bananarama LPs. Quoting poorly aging music and throwing in some cultural condescension… that really is grasping at some limp straws.

        • @scotterb @looker See another morass starting out with trivially true history culminating in a massive non-sequitur. I suppose it plays well to doe-eyed undergrads.

        • @looker @scotterb One man’s catastrophic turn towards violent theocracy is another man’s “good thing”. One man’s mass murder on the trains in Madrid is another man’s “good news from Spain”.

        • @scotterb @looker Sing-song recitals are a typical diversion. Enlarge the picture to meaninglessness and you present a meaningless picture.

        • @scotterb @looker “Indeed, they were ahead of us at one point. If not for Islamic rationalists Thomas Aquinas would have never discovered Aristotle and started the moves in the West towards progress and enlightenment.”

          A childish butchering of history and meaningless in the context of this or any discussion of the contemporary Middle East and Islam. Islam does have a history, and the good parts of it are definitely long in the past, but this sort of “comparative civilization” song and dance vis a vis the West is ludicrous. The West, despite its struggles, *always* had better foundations than Islam. That’s obvious with one look at how Islam began and what it consists of, and its very nature.

        • @scotterb “The claim “they watched us grow and choose to keep” the Ottoman empire is bizarre and untrue. It was a closed authoritarian system, it kept out knowledge about the West from most, and limited any chance to make changes.

          Good lord.
          The Ottoman empire fell in the 1920’s – the Islamic world has had 90 years to look around at the western world and the various governments. They’ve been able to see the rise and fall of Fascism, the fall of Communist/Socialism, and the success and failure of all sorts of different flavors of parliamentary, representative, banana republic, dictatorships, socialist welfare states. They’ve survived occupation by foreign powers and being colonies of those powers and the governments that those powers inflicted on them. They’ve not just seen other governments work, they were often dragged kicking and screaming into the empires of those governments and experienced their workings first hand. Egypt is NOT Turkey. Egypt was part of the British Empire, for real – 1882.

          So you’re arguing they were insulated from us while they waved their ipods and iphones around in Tarhir square? They come here to the US or go to colleges and universities throughout the world. I’ve worked with Libyan and Egyptian nationals in various data processing projects over the last 30 years.

          Are you trying to say it’s going to take them a 100 years to look around and see what works and what doesn’t when they already have 600 years of catching up to do?

          It’s absurd to think they’ll go backwards? Oh, I agree, it’s absurd but they just had an election where it appears that their women (you know, the part you keep avoiding because you can’t hand wave it away) are about to take a step backward into history where they are property and not people.

          So, let me ask, how many centuries passed for the Chinese to go from a peasant empire to current? How many centuries did Japan take? Kinda of a shake up for a Samurai in 1860 to jump forward and find out a mere 150 years later that the former ruling elite is now a museum piece, no? How many centuries did they need again? The the highly educated Japanese peasant class of the late 1800’s? well, I guess that explains why they are what they are today, right? Centuries of time to develop and change and all.
          Okay okay, let’s talk about Korea then, they took how long? 1910?
          Big western history and cultural education for the Korean peasants from 1910 was there?

          So back to Egypt, what happened to them, did Ra sequester them in the reeds on the banks of the blessed Nile and have them spring forth with the decline of the Ottoman empire 90 years ago? Or did they just start paying attention to the western world when they bought their first Iphone?

        • @looker Saddam, Mubarak, Gaddafi, all ruling very much like the Ottomans as the political culture survived the fall. The publics had limited say. Demographic trends are real, so is globalization. Give it a generation. I mean, it’s not like you have a choice — their future is in their hands, not ours.

        • @scotterb @looker Can someone reboot the ZX81 running the Erb-bot? It seems to have gotten logic bombed and is recycling mangled sentences.

        • @scotterb Well thank you professor obvious, it’s in their hands. Meanwhile go ahead and pat yourself on the back for how right you always are, but don’t count this time.

          Let’s take a moment for blasts from your past –
          Feburary 2011
          “Egypt had 45 million people when Mubarak came to power, now it’s 83 million, watching the news on al jazeera (which routinely blasts corruption and gives Arabs news their governments would rather them not hear or see), connected by internet and able to organize on social media”

          Another one – even better
          “The median age in the Arab world is about 23. They are getting real news about the corruption and oppression of dictators from al jazeera. They are more connected by social media than ever. They have not been seduced by Islamic extremists, they are increasingly secular. They are the ones pushing change.”

          “I’m stepping out of this argument. I’ve been glued to al jazeera streaming video, exhilarated by the news from Egypt, and really feeling in a positive mood with all this. It’s all I’ve been blogging about, and it’s been a topic in my classes. This is history. When the Berlin Wall fell I had similar emotions — people standing up to tyranny and non-violently forcing change. Yes, there are dangers ahead, but these two weeks have been amazing. It seems silly to cheapen the euphoria with web trash talk. Perhaps we can agree that people demanding liberty is a good thing, and a tyrant having to flee power is not a bad thing?”

          I’ll stop there, my Erb history mining donkey is overloaded with wealth –

          so, remind me where in this Egyptian people’s demand for liberty is the part about women not voting and staying out of public life?

        • @scotterb @looker ” Saddam, Mubarak, Gaddafi, all ruling very much like the Ottomans as the political culture survived the fall.”

          All three of them were *socialists*. And the Muslim Brotherhood are socialists, as well.

        • @martinmcphillips @scotterb @looker “A childish butchering of history and meaningless in the context of this or any discussion of the contemporary Middle East and Islam.”

          Note that Aristotle was not Muslim, but was one of the founders of Western civilization. By Scott’s assertion, copying manuscripts and storing them for a few centuries is the same as creating ideas.

          By that logic, when you store your clothes in a locker at the pool, the pool’s owners have tailored your apparel when you take them back out.

        • @scotterb @martinmcphillips @looker In a just world, any professor quoting the band Rush would be fired immediately, if not lined up against a wall and fired that way.

        • @scotterb @looker Yeah, now we can have rulers like the Caliphs instead of the Ottomans!

        • @looker @scotterb “”The median age in the Arab world is about 23. They are getting real news about the corruption and oppression of dictators from al jazeera. They are more connected by social media than ever. They have not been seduced by Islamic extremists, they are increasingly secular. They are the ones pushing change.”

          HA HA HA

          This is what someone who is a lefty sees – mobs of people throwing down a dictator must be secular leftists like me, who would never trust a religious person.

          In fact, Egyptians probably view the man who goes to mosque faithfully and is Islamic fundamentalist is the exact guy you want to stop corruption…he’s a man of faith, he won’t be seduced by money or women or infidel foreigners.

          This is what Erb does not get – many people in this world are not like him or most westerners. They are very religious and want to force that on their neighbors. You can use youtube to watch rap videos or you can use it to watch Islamic scholars debate how hard you can beat your womenfolk.

          Islamic legalism is part of the problem – you can use it to demand people follow the law as your side interprets it or else you are an apostate and can be killed. But don’t worry, the hardliners never just kill the moderates so they can be in power – except the Mufti of Jerusalem, the FLN of Algeria, the Taliban etc.

        • @Harun @scotterb @martinmcphillips @looker “In a just world, any professor quoting the band Rush would be fired immediately, if not lined up against a wall and fired that way.”

          Many of Rush’s songs are political in nature. A few make allusions to Ayn Rand. “The Trees” is a perfect allegory for socialism. Considering how it so perfectly shows the folly of Scott Erb’s mantra of distribution of wealth and class warfare, it’s a wonder he’s stupid enough to quote the same band to try to make a point. The “my weekly crime” name I picked for my blog/twitter is from the Rush song “Red Barchetta”. So, personally, I see no problem with him quoting Rush, even though a compendium of the band’s songs are a stark contrast to his anti-libertarian, leftist, post-modernist arguments.

          But if you think that’s bad, you should see what he’s written about using “The Simpsons” to teach politics:

          “I’m known where I teach for being a fan of the Simpsons. I always bring up
          examples from different episodes — talk about the Iraq-Kuwait war, talk
          about sideways drilling the Kuwaitis used…just like Monty Burns! It
          amazes me how often there are parallels, and usually they only occur to me
          while I’m standing there so I just say them, even if some students find that
          rather eccentric. I’ll be talking about the start of WWI and how the crime
          of regicide was considered worse than murder, and then remember the 911 call
          Bart made when Sideshow Bob was after him, and the recording said, “If you
          know the crime you are reporting, please push the corresponding number. One
          for regicide…” Little things like that. I got a teaching award last year
          and one of things the presenter said was that I could bring in the Simpsons
          to compare to almost every aspect of politics. A few people gave me an odd
          look. I also played “Territories” once when discussing war and nationalism.
          I think that caused a couple students to go out and buy “Power Windows.” I
          don’t think that improves my teaching, but little self-indulgences to pop
          culture I enjoy makes it at least more fun for me, and presumably that keeps
          me energized 🙂 ”

        • @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips @looker You show only that you’d be a lousy teacher if you don’t understand how these popular culture items can aid in the classroom. We have seminars (not taught by me, in various disciplines) that deal with the Simpsons, Harry Potter, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Buffy the Vampire slayer. These are not easy seminars either. You’ll also find music and pop culture on my blog (recently Raquel Welch, Banacek, and a lot about Styx). If an analogy comes up, I’ll bring it up in class (by the way, today’s class was on the Arab Spring and its aftermath). Between that and your obsession with ideology, I think you may take things too seriously. Lighten up. “Relax, take it easy…” (Or perhaps Billy Joel’s “Angry Young Man” would be appropriate).

        • @scotterb @Harun @martinmcphillips @looker “We have seminars (not taught by me, in various disciplines) that deal with the Simpsons, Harry Potter, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Buffy the Vampire slayer.”

          You only demonstrate my point even further. This is a perfect illustration of the childish, unemployed or underemployed person with a useless college degree and a mountain of debt. The cracks by Ott Scerb about your “moose college” seem to be quite apropos, given this new information. Anyone who is paying tens of thousands a year and attending “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” seminars is an idiot. They’d be much better off dropping out and working. They’d save money on tuition, make money from working, and get valuable experience.

          “…your obsession with ideology…”

          YOU are the one who obsessively labels your opponents’ arguments as “ideological” and pretends not to be ideological, in stark contrast to what is obvious to everyone else but you.

          I have no problem with using GOOD ideas to guide decisions. The alternative is to make it up as you go along out of some irrational fear of actually standing for something. My problem is with ideologies based upon BAD ideas.

          “…I think you may take things too seriously. Lighten up.”

          The subject is elections in Egypt, where the government has fallen, Coptics are being murdered and terrorized, women are being oppressed, journalists are being raped in public, and many are beating war drums towards Israel. What about that makes you think that this is a lighthearted subject?

        • @scotterb “We have seminars (not taught by me, in various disciplines) that deal with the Simpsons, Harry Potter, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Buffy the Vampire slayer. These are not easy seminars either.”

          These are not easy seminars either?

          No one but the goofball academics who believe they are significant of anything care what they are. Anyone can make something difficult. Making something difficult *is* the *easy* part. It’s getting to the point of pretense that it has any significance that requires extensive training.

        • @scotterb @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips @looker We get it Erb, You’re down with the kids picking up those remarkably subtle political and historical references the Simpsons writers are so unknown for throwing into the scripts. Well done. Some of us have taught undergrads as well. I was even surprised one day to get flowers from one sweet girl in a physics class at the end of a course. I didn’t find it necessary to inflict them with my dead white male philosophy and nearly-dead white male music though, letting them go early to get started in earnest at the mass student drinking activities was usually “pop culture” enough.

        • @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips @looker Gee, if things were really falling apart in Egypt it would be a big news story. Instead you find little events, expected in a country going through what Egypt is, and make it sound like they’re happening at a mass level. That makes me laugh. Also, note again that ideology and certainly ideas are not bad. Ideological dogma is irrational. Ideologies are good tools to try to make sense of a complex reality. They are all simplifications of reality and different ones can shed light on different aspects of how the world operates. Irrationality is to grab one ideological dogma and use it as a guide to understand everything, interpreting everything through that ideological lens. That takes useful ideologies and turns them into secular religions, and that is fundamentally irrational.

        • @scotterb @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips @looker You’re not even trying now Scotty, just on your “ideologies” jag again as if projecting that against the diverse array of people you interact with somehow negates the emptiness of all the words you throw up against the wall.

        • @scotterb @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips @looker By the way Erb. Given your most recent gushing tribute to the marriage of Sarkozy and Merkel working their magical way to European unity… what’s your take on that weasel Sarkozy wanting to fundamentally alter the Schengen agreement on the free movement of people with the EU *just* at this juncture of history? Coincidence? Desire to keep those damn Tunisians left over from the colonies out? Anticipating the fall of the Euro and a flood of unemployed oiks from the East? Or just a non-ideological move that proves the wisdom of continental politicians and their humane policies of the enlightenment? Whatever, if that mofo prevents me travelling on holidays without a passport I’ll be really, really, miffed.

        • @scotterb @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips Ah, I see, foreign journalists gathering news and being raped while doing so is not a big story. Happens here in the US all the time does it? Europe? Asia? eh? what? speak up, I can’t hear you for the sounds of the rioting in Tarhir square as the military postpones announcing the results of the elections.

        • @scotterb @myweeklycrime @Harun @looker

          “if things were really falling apart in Egypt it would be a big news story. Instead you find little events, expected in a country going through what Egypt is, and make it sound like they’re happening at a mass level.”

          You are a new species of unserious person, Scott.

        • @myweeklycrime @martinmcphillips @looker Ah, but if not for Avicenna, Averroes and other Islamic rationalists Thomas Aquinas would not have gotten the ideas that he brought into the western world. Aquinas would “win” the battle to combine reason and faith in the Catholic church and that would ignite the changes that took Europe from being behind the Islamic world to surpassing it. Alas, the Islamic rationalists would lose their battle thanks to the Ottomans. But perhaps now it is time for a comeback!

        • @scotterb @myweeklycrime @martinmcphillips @looker So Erb has got to chapter “A” in his “Philosophies for Dummies” book…

        • @DocD @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips @looker Domestic politics.

        • @DocD @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips @looker Ideologies bit only meant to respond to “myweeklycrime,” as I see his approach as fundamentally misguided. It’s not directed at anyone else.

        • @scotterb @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips @looker Bwa ha ha ha ha! Oh good God, the leader of the French suggests fundamentally altering the agreement that allows free movement of people with the EU. A suggestion that would fundamentally impact tens of millions of people and the local master of European whatnot explains it as …. “domestic politics”. I thought you were an ignorant buffoon about knowledge of life in most of Northern Europe but this really takes the biscuit. What, you haven’t had time to get an opinion from someone else yet?

        • @scotterb @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips Amazing – the election, you know, the thing we were talking about when you showed up, kinda occurred at, what did you call it? ah, yes, a mass level. In it, the Islaminc fundamentaliserious, and the Islamic fundamentaliserioumostly looked like they had achieved a majority for representation in the government. We were talking about how mostly serious that is going to make the new Egyptian government and how it will affect the region and our future relations with them.

          “That takes useful ideologies and turns them into secular religions, and that is fundamentally irrational.”

          You’re writing corporate mission statements again, you’re throwing out streams of big words in essentially correct sentences that lead absolutely no where, but are intended in some way to tell us, at your lofty collegial level, that we’re a bunch of moron hillbillies who have no right to an opinion and should leave it to our intellectual superiors, such as yourself. You neglected to add that it’s all good, and necessary, and we should give it time.

          Do you suppose that’s what the world was thinking after the rise of Pol Pot? just give it time? It’s all good and necessary.

          I note, at this point with disdain, you continue to act as if Copts and Egyptian women aren’t to be considered in this equation, though evidence indicates they will suffer under the likely regime that will come out of this. So, I have to wonder if you consider women to be equal to you, a man, in general, and if we’re supposed to ignore the abuse of the Copts as they aren’t the majority of Egypt in an effort to ‘give this time’ so you can be right.

        • @DocD @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips @looker Of course – and it’s not necessarily a bad idea. The agreement already allows suspension, this is just to allow temporary suspension in a case where a breach of an EU border creates exceptional circumstances. You’re over-reacting this idea (it would have to be negotiated, etc) the same way you’re over-reacting to the Egyptian elections. It doesn’t endanger the Schengen agreement, nor does it threaten your travel plans.

        • @scotterb @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips @looker Buggar me Erb, did you sell your soul to the Devil himself in order to live in a world of make believe and pixie dust that even you yourself cannot possibly believe without being some sort of psychotic?

        • @DocD @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips @looker I do have a very positive outlook on life (a colleague jokes ‘if Scott was thrown from a plane he’d find a way to enjoy the view on the way down’). I won’t go into that here, but I do have a blog post on it:

          But I don’t see how you jump to such an alarmist response to a relatively minor suggestion by Sarkozy? And in Egypt events there are following their own logic, with the Egyptian military still very powerful, globalization still a force, and lots of factors at play. Yet you fixate on the Muslim brotherhood (a very diverse group) and assume the worst possible outcomes. That makes no sense. I’m clearly not predicting all sweetness and light — history is messy. Look at what the West has gone through in the last 500 years. But it is what it is, you can’t wish it away and fearing it makes no sense.

        • @scotterb @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips @looker Thank the Lord you are confined to smalltown America with no ability to influence anything beyond a few naive undergrads.

        • @DocD @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips @looker Ah, but of the butterfly effect!

        • @DocD @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips @looker Ah, but think about the butterfly effect!

        • @scotterb @DocD @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips And yet another another thing – stop telling me what I’m afraid of. I’m not afraid of Islam, because frankly if push comes to shove I know who’s going to end up on the ground in the war of ideas and in real war. What I’m concerned with is that they’re headed down a path that will lead them to collide with us when that does NOT need to happen.

          What’s frustrating is knowing there’s not a damn thing I can do about it, but nearly as sure as winter follows fall, I’m going to consider the potential dangers BEFORE they show up at the door. I have a positive outlook on life, but that doesn’t mean when the smoke starts filling up the room I don’t have the brains to seek the door because I’m told it’s really nothing to be alarmed about.

          You? You’re the guy to whom everything happens ‘unexpectedly’.

        • @scotterb @DocD @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips “Ah, think about the butterfly effect”

          We do, why do you think we bother to rebut your absurd assertions. We’re flapping as hard within our sphere’s of influence as you are within yours. We’ll see how that works out in 2012. Till then, flap on little butterfly.

        • @scotterb @DocD @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips
          “Of course – and it’s not necessarily a bad idea.”

          Sure, and when Rome allowed the first Dictator to take over for a while it wasn’t necessarily a bad idea, but it set a bad precedent.

        • @scotterb @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips @looker The Butterfly effect? That is chaos. Chaos such as this emerges from classical mechanical systems (systems that have exponential sensitivity to initial conditions), systems that are known to be only a weak approximation of whatever reality underlies our everyday experience. Move to a more proper description of physical systems (that do not exhibit exponential, rather linear, sensitivity to initial conditions), quantum field theories, string theories and so forth, and the chaos no longer exists. Wake up to the 21st century Erb, the butterfly is dead.

          (and yes you may go and look up “quantum chaos” on Wikipedia, but that will only tell you that quantum chaos is how to understand how the erroneous apparent classical chaos emerges from non-chaotic quantum mechanics)

        • @DocD @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips @looker I love talking about quantum and particle physics (I’m a fan of Brian Greene’s work for laypeople like me), but I’m not talking chaos theory. More that every time anyone affects another, that ripples out and changes reality. Most of my students are future teachers, and I take that into account – what should teachers know? It’s a very rewarding profession.

        • @scotterb @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips @looker Well if you’re not talking chaos theory why bring up the butterfly effect which is the archetypal demonsdemonstration of classical chaos? More bullshit pop culture for kids who don’t know better perhaps? Just like Greene’s pop physics flights of fancy on TV, after the first 5minutes they are off in the realm of personal fantasy, more’s the pity. If you want well tau If you want a good intro to quantum mechanics without the vavuous flights of pure speculation and wilfull misrepresentation I’d highly recommend Feynmann’s lecture series which, even after a few years cannot be topped. That is if you want to know what quantum mechanics is about and not just bubblegum exageration for the Discovery channel.

        • @scotterb @DocD @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips How sly and cute, the future will be victims of your teaching through your students as teachers.

          Only if your teachers can find jobs teaching and the education puppy mill is allowed to continue. The first cracks are in the wall there, you need to pay attention. The message OWS was sending you wasn’t that there would be more money coming your way, it was that there will probably be less, and it will be aimed towards real education, not feel good seminars on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and how it applies to very European culture, and Zombie Apocalypse II.

        • @DocD @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips @looker Yes, Feynmann is great. I personally do enjoy Greene’s speculation, especially in “The Fabric of the Cosmos” (and his recent “The Hidden Reality”). I also find myself fascinated by particle physics, following the Large Hadron Collider on twitter. I think Greene is right that the science inherently has implications for philosophy, though most scientists seem to want to avoid it (I think he puts at as ‘shut up and calculate’ or something like that). I haven’t seen Greene on TV though, but he’s an excellent writer — and he’s very good at noting where speculation starts and its limits.

        • @scotterb @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips @looker Oh. Dear. Christ.

        • @DocD @scotterb @myweeklycrime @Harun @martinmcphillips

          Sir Bedevere: …and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped.
          King Arthur: This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedevere. Explain again how sheep’s bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.

    • @scotterb “Necessary”? Hey idiot, I didn’t notice that bit of nuance when you were waxing about the Arab spring….

      Hardline Islamists are an “exciting and necessary change” for the region?


      You’re permanently stuck on stupid.

      • @The Shark Change can only come with the gradual co-opting of Islamic movements. They are too strong to simply be brushed aside. I discussed this awhile back on my blog: My view has been consistent – revolutions are easy, the aftermath is messy, and Islamic parties have to be part of the future, they won’t be brushed aside.

        • @scotterb Your view has not been consistent, except in the sense that it has been warped and wrong from the start. Consistent in that regard alone. It was obvious to people paying attention that this whole “Arab Spring” nonsense was a Muslim Brotherhood operation and that it was stirring the pot in Egypt so that it could wrest power from the military. Mubarek was an obstacle to that. He was *too* *modern* for the Brotherhood’s vision. The military regime that he was the front man for had its roots too deep in secularism. Egypt had long been getting pulled back into Islamist ways, and more radically Islamic. When the tipping point was reached, the Brotherhood went for power, playing to the fools in the West who always lunge to support this sort of thing. And there were fools who came to this blog and yammered on about the wonderful youth movement and the bright future and wouldn’t hear a word about who and what the Muslim Brotherhood were and what they wanted.

    • @scotterb “Repressive dictatorships have programmed that the first step in transition will be an Islamicist turn.”

      And really? Really? Do you just string words together like a fictitious mission statement from the corporate 90s that sorta sound like they have meaning?

      They have it programmed in them? They do? There’s a rule book on what repressive dictatorships do? Is there a flow chart for that? Can I see if there’s a decision tree for what to do if they’re NOT dictatorships in the Islamic world, and they’re dictatorships in say, South America or Eastern Europe?

      • @looker @scotterb Don’t want to support Erb, but it would work like this:

        Oppressive regime does not allow overt political dissent. Thus only place for political opponents to meet and organize is the mosque, because even a dictator can’t ban mosques in an Islamic country.

        thus when the dictator goes down, the Islamists are the best prepared.

        The problem with this theory, is that it has to also assume that the liberalizers are also popular just not organized and herein lies the rub. Egypt is not New York City – its a millions and millions of illiterate very religious peasants, with a small cream of liberal types in the cities, and who probably already hold visas and passports ready to flee to London whenever they want to. Just because Paris and London like you doesn’t mean the vast bulk of Egyptian peasants like you. They probably want a man of God, who will be incorruptible, unlike the dictator, and who cares about the peasants, not some guy with degree from MIT who lived most of his life abroad and collects crystal as a hobby.

        • @Harun @scotterb Heh, there’s no way you could accidentally support him. He’s cast out a gross generalization about the term dictatorship.

          It didn’t have to happen that the fundies would take over, but we all knew it Egypt that it would be a miracle, not even a hope, that it would go that way. Sure I WANTED Erb to be right (Did you hear that Erb?, I WANTED YOU TO BE RIGHT!), but it’s obvious for the region and it’s history it wasn’t likely.

        • @looker @Harun Give it time. This election result and ones like it is totally expected. But the youth are still there, globalization is still there, the Egyptian military is still there. Idealists who predicted all sweetness and light never had a chance to be right. But pessimists who see Egypt falling to the small minority of radical extremists are just as wrong. You’re seeing a transformation, they rarely go quickly or without bumps and difficulties along the way.

        • @scotterb @looker @Harun Blink. And we have teleported back in time two days…

        • @DocD @scotterb @Harun Yeah, me and the mule may have to wander back to the Erb mine to demonstrate he’s one of the idealists he’s now saying were deluded.

        • @looker @scotterb @Harun Well it’s Friday evening here and time to teleport in a drink and movie with the kids…

  • So predictable. But we were assured, so many times, that this was the new Middle East, the age of a new independent youth movement, interacting via social media, ushering in the new, wonderful, modern Egypt. But yesterday, or last spring at least, is so far away, and the memory hole is so deep.

    • @martinmcphillips It is a new middle east, but the idea of young people using social media to magically craft a nice pro-western world was never a possibility. It’ll be a messy transition as old customs and patterns give way to new. The youth are key, but it’s going to be a struggle, at least a generation. But ultimately the Islamic extremists have nothing to offer for the future, they are fighting a cause they are doomed to lose. But the battle is just beginning and the journey will be rough. History works that way.

      • @scotterb Yeah, I remember telling you that it was never a possibility.

      • @scotterb @martinmcphillips Yeah, indeed sir bozo, drift down the page a bit and find the place where I quoted you from your happy days of social media February this year – hell,here, this one’s free –

        “The median age in the Arab world is about 23. They are getting real news about the corruption and oppression of dictators from al jazeera. They are more connected by social media than ever. They have not been seduced by Islamic extremists, they are increasingly secular. They are the ones pushing change.”

        That’s you, while around it the posts are us predicting the doom and gloom you see today.
        Nice Job whiz kid, and now all you have is ‘tough, they’re going to do what they’re going to do”.

        Yeah, we knew that, and we said it, months ago.

  • Shoot.

    I was hoping Ott had posted one of his excellent take-offs on Erp.

    This is could be one of those threads that just can’t be parodied better than Erp’s own posts…

    • @Ragspierre Amen. This take me back to my misspent days as a grad student and the wildly irrelevant battles on internal newsgroups between various faculty factions. One eventually learned that pomos like Erb came in two varieties. The first were those still rebelling against a childhood religion (most often Catholic in this case) or some similar familial doctrine and found solace in the pomo relativism. These guys usually admitted after a few drinks. The other type was nastier, the coupling of a narcissist with mediocre intellect. Pomo theories gave them the rhetorical wiggle room they needed to feel they beat the string theorists (for example), with the added bonus of never taking a true position of their own but having plenty of fluffy and contradictory material at hand to “win” the argument. This type never admits anything, as being the acknowledged intellect is paramount. So which is it for our dear pontif, lapsed Catholic with parental authority issues or self-absorbed “everyone got a medal” type?

      • @DocD Wow…talk about a poser…!!!

        A lot of the posters here have WAY more historical data on Erp than do I. Happily, I find him quite forgettable!

        I DO cherish…

        1. His ignorance of what the Frankfort School was about, and his insistence that they were the heirs of the Enlightenment

        2. His assertion that Egypt would join the modern world…someday. (Presumably in glacial time.) Gutsy call…!!!

        3. His focus on “social media” as being somehow indicative of a new phenomenon. (This shows what a truly NOT global thinker he is, and what an historical ignoramus he is [i.e., radio was ANOTHER incremental advance in communications, and made the Blitzkrieg combined arms doctrine more effective, but it was still just an incremental advance in warfare]). It is not a “new thing under the sun”.

        4. His stolid belief that Islamism is a) a transitory “nasty phase” that b) is morally equivalent to Western cultures, and c) is nothing to worry your pretty lil’ heads over. Really.

        5. His ANTI-science defense of the witch-doctor religion of Gorebull Warming/Cooling/Change/Chaos/Whatever.

        6. His gooey love (ick) of Bad Luck Barry, and insistence that the radical Obama is a moderate.

        More than enough to dismiss him as a doctrinaire Collectivist puke. Well…that and his outright lies….

        • @Ragspierre @DocD Radio also allowed the Hutus of Rwanda to broadcast the orders to massacre the Tutsis. Erb is an idiot. Its funny most of us know ad hominem is wrong, but in his case, after so much time you find it pragmatic!

        • @Harun @Ragspierre In Erb’s case he *always* ensures to entwine whatever he is talking about with his own personality and authority (have you ever met anyone else who uses “I” and “me” so often in discussions of Egyptian Islamic tendencies???), precisely to ensure that at some point someone will take up against what he wrote about himself. Then he can retire hurt about how unfair it is to be attacked personally, how un-adult everyone else is etc etc. I think they teach it in “bad disucssion styles 101”.

          To use a rugby analogy, he WANTS people to “play the man and not the ball” because it reinforces his pscyhe the way his arguments can’t.

        • @Ragspierre Regarding point 5. I looked up some of his science writing. Oh Dear God. His misunderstanding of quantum mechanics and trying to tie quantum entanglement and locality to Eastern mysticism is just so cliched it is like he fell right out of an 80s hippy commune. It’s kind of embarrassing to watch, when old duffers try to use quantum mechanics to find their place in the universe but fail to realize the science isn’t saying what they think it is saying (hey, but the words are cool when you’re tripping!)

        • @DocD @Ragspierre Heh, I tried reading on quantum mechanic at one point, and, nodded my head at the end (probably about a half mile into quantum land) and thought ‘how nice’, but that’s all I walked away with. I’m glad there are people who understand it, truly understand it, and can apply it to real world to improve the human lot (well, at least, I hope that’s what they do with it all). I’m not that guy however, and I will never pretend to be.

          Still, knowledge is awesome ain’t it?

        • @looker @DocD @Ragspierre There was a “movement” called quantum mysticism that begain around when the science itself began. Back then people had no idea how to interpet it in a unified manner and certain things like wavefunction collapse, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, superpositions of states etc bore some superficial resemblance to some Eastern philosophies. The advent of the standard model and then quantum field theory pretty much killed it in the 70s/80s, when it was proven various interpretation like hidden variable theories were impossible solutions. More impressionable folk still think that quantum entanglement and locality theorems imply something about consciousness and the human condition, but it is as usual about 54 bridges too far based on projecting what they think the funny sounding words are saying onto the strict physical science and mathematics. Basically Erb is reliving the “revelations” of the 70s and probably owes royalties to Fritjof Capra for ripping off the awful “Tao of physics”.

  • Since you all are getting into the silly personal attack stuff that you seem to enjoy so much (my only insult would be that I find it hard to believe adults really still act that way), I’ll let you have the last word, but here’s an interesting article:

    I also saw one by Fareed Zakaria that had a point similar to mine, but I can’t seem to find it now. The bottom line is that we’re at the start of a process. Don’t forget that most Arabs are under age 22 and connected to the world and global economy more than ever before. Ultimately, the future is in their hands, there is no need to fear a party just because it is Islamist (and there is no reason to take the worst Taliban like behavior and attribute it to all of political Islam.) You can posture here, but I urge you all to keep an open mind and read up on the specifics of what’s happening, this is good and necessary.

    • @scotterb In other words… No Timmy you couldn’t be more wrong and someday when you have an advanced degree in knowing very little about other countries you will understand. It is good and necessary. Now class is dismissed, please read your homework assignment written by someone else who agrees with the one of twenty positions I have advocated today because asking you to read from my own research list would be a tad embarrasing.

      Yep, I’m pretty sure Erb isn’t the “lapsed Catholic” variety of pomo.

    • @scotterb As always, quoting you, Scott, or just referring you back to your previous statements, is a silly personal attack.

      • @martinmcphillips @scotterb I called him bozo, and whiz kid and professor obvious. I’m not sure which one did it, but I’ll make a note of that too for future use.

      • @martinmcphillips @scotterb “As always, quoting you, Scott, or just referring you back to your previous statements, is a silly personal attack.”

        You’re *PRESSING* him!

        “old tidbits” Not FAIR!

    • @scotterb “Don’t forget that most Arabs are under age 22 and connected to the world and global economy more than ever before. ”

      Yes, and at some point or other the world was probably populated by people under the age of 22 who thought the world was flat, and when they hit 25, they still thought the world was flat, because that’s what they were taught.

      Your argument here is that now, all of a sudden, these young people are going to change what they have not changed for the last 600 years just because….well….because.

      Something besides their age has to change, and that thing is their religion, which is precisely what the fundamentalists will prevent, which is precisely what we told you all along.

      • @looker @scotterb As if young people can’t be racist, homophobic, or religious fanatics. Maybe Erb can explain how the Blackshirts were all middle aged or something.

        • @Harun @looker Well I see a lot of Islamophobia hear that appears a lot like racism. I mean you all are showing so much fear, prejudice and a deep misunderstanding of the Arab world. It does reinforce my desire to try to educate young people on the realities of the region so that they do not fall pray to mindless Islamophobia. Luckily outside of right wing blogs and the like, more rational minds are prevailing.

        • @scotterb @looker Jesus H Christ…if we went back in time to 1935, you’d be here telling us Hitler is reasonable and don’t worry about the Blackshirts – they are just socialist moderates who haven’t had their chance to be in power yet.

          I’ve lived in a Muslim country before – most Muslims are great people, but their religion has an aspect of religious one-up-manship, i.e. its easy to slowly pressure moderates to slowly become hard liners or risk appearing to be “bad muslims.’ Maybe its like how the Bolsheviks got rid of all the other kinds of socialists.

          Indonesia used to have very few women covering their hair – now that is the norm, and some even do the entire burka thing too. But you will tell me not to worry or that I am Islamiphobic. You know jack all about it my friend, and talking to some liberal muslims who are hopeful doesn’t count. You also need to be careful not to buy the Islamists who seem so educated, etc. – they know how to sell you. You need to talk to Copts – that would be the canary in the coal mine. Liberal muslims abounded in Iran before 1979 – then once the revolution took over, they just fell into line. Only now they start making more noise – the problem is you guys keep forgetting for every Liberal educated at the LSE, like Saif, there are a million peasants who just do whatever the Imam says. And I won’t even discuss the semi-educated who buy Mein Kampf, etc.

        • OK, I want to ask a serious question to any Christians here. Do you guys ever feel the need to defend a more rabid Christian than yourself, or maybe feel guilty when some “better” Christian starts admonishing you?

          I think Americans probably would tell them to shove it. That does not happen much in some other cultures, which I think is the problem.

        • @scotterb @Harun @looker Oh dear Erb are you really going down that path? Throwing the peculiarly American accusations of “phobia” and “racist” around in the hope of getting people to shut up? You know it doesn’t play very well outside certain circles of American politics, elsewhere people will look at you sideways and wonder what the hell you are talking about. Even I had a Muslim girlfriend in my younger days, but perhaps you have some pop-psych explanation for repressed racism or something. You accuse everyone of fear and prejudice, yet you bloviate about countries you know so little about that you just make a fool of yourself when you get called on it. Basically you sit in your whitebread world in small town America, with your safe well-paid whitebread job, listening to your whitebread music and doing your whitebread travels to Italy with your whitebread doe-eyed students repeating the various contradictory positions of other whitebread political “scientists” and when you bump against a countervailing opinion you start shouting fear, racism and rightwing irrationality. Nevermind that people here have far more experience of living in foreign cultures, travel to odd places and families that are quite beyond your whitebread world. Nope, it is us that are the scared and irrational ones. The arrogance of it is astounding, but quite expected from a narcissist personality craving recognition.

        • @scotterb “Well I see a lot of Islamophobia hear that appears a lot like racism.”

          Ah, I see Scott giving new meaning to the definition of a racist as anyone winning an argument with a liberal.

          Actually, Scott, if I cared to bother I could run you back through your pro-carbomber history during the steady development of Iraq after the removal of Hussein. You could barely tolerate notice of the elections, the passage of a constitution, the meeting of deadlines to get to those stages. All accomplished in a historical blink of an eye. Yet you only saw the futility of it. How strange a fellow you are.

        • @scotterb @Harun And ya know, that’s another thing I’m sick of. I’m sick of being called a racist when what I object to is an aspect of a religion (like stoning or discrimination against those who don’t worship Allah) or a political view.

          You moron, what ‘RACE’ is Islam? It’s like hearing I’m a racist because I don’t think we should let citizens of Mexico (or any other country for that matter) wander willy nilly into our country and take up residence without going through legal channels. Which ‘race’ is Mexican? what, you think I’d be happy if 10 million descendents of Cortez wandered in unannounced but I’d want to kick out 10 million descendents of Montezuma?

          I’m tired of being addressed as a racist hillbilly by asshole know it all, more often then not racist and classist liberals, like you, and I’m not going to lay down and politely take it any more.

          The fact that you can’t realize, recognize and admit that all these cultures, countries, and religions are not united under a single race indicates to me if there’s an ignorant racist in this column, it’s YOU. Use that high powered degree of yours for something more than a wall decoration and a bludgeon to prove you’re always right.

        • @DocD @scotterb @Harun No wonder he likes Rush – he’s imported one of his fundamental though patters from one song they wrote “Witch Hunt’.

          A song I liked until tools like this adopted it as their view that the entire middle of our country was this song.

        • @looker Dude be careful, he deliberately said “like racism” so that he can come back in an hour or two and say he never called anyone a racist. He has only implied we are all racists so that his students understand the underlying wisdom. He has called us phobics, although no-one has expressed any such phobia. But in pomo world most “opposition” to the views of the enlightened ones such as Erb must stem from lizard-brain fear, because rational people by definition accept the views of the Erboi.

        • @DocD Oh, I noted he never called us racists, as you said, phobics and ‘like’ racists.

          So from now on, I will never call him an @sshole, I’ll say he’s ‘like an @sshole’, and we’ll see at the end of the day what he thinks I just said. I’m the father of three sons, I know the “I didn’t hit him” game where indeed, there was no hit involved, it was a kick. And he can attempt to evade by that method. But this is the court of public opinion not the legal court where the precision of the words is paramount.
          He can try and hide behind his words all he wants, he knows, and those who are reading know, what he meant.

        • @Harun

          I’m late to this, but I wanted you to get some response –
          You’re right that most Americans would thell them to shove it, but I think it’s partially for religious reasons. Someone that is rabid (especially if they are speaking ill of others) or identifies themselves as a “better” Christian is not likely to be viewed as being a good Christian. There is supposed to be an inherent humility.

          On the flip side, the rabid, ‘better than you’ approach does work in certain other parts of American society – sports, gangs, commisioned sales, liberals.

          I have occasionally felt guilty because of a Christian I viewed as behaving better than myself, not because of their admonition, but because of their living example.

          When I was attending college, there was a man who would stand in front of the Engineering building and discuss religion a few days a week, and often it seemed he thought only the path he followed would lead to God. The vast majority of the time it was the several dozen in the crowd arguing against Gary. But there were occasions when someone would ardently claim that Gary and his views had no place on a college campus. (Once was a math professor, other times it would be a campus homosexual organization with a bullhorn). At those times, the arguments quickly went in Gary’s favor.

    • @scotterb Good an necessary – a new mantra.

      Brother, when the Copts are being massacred or Israel being assailed from all sides by a coalition of fundamentalist states, or Egyptian women lose their right to vote (you know, they CAN vote right now, right?) I think I’ll take a visit over to your much vaunted site, and remind you you said this was good and necessary.

      • @looker @scotterb He repeats “good and necessary” and “don’t fear it” so often that it is pretty clear that he is trying to reassure himself of this, rather than us. In other words, he is projecting his fear of the outside world onto us and hoping that if he can convince us not to be “scared” and accept the “necessity” of what he thinks is inevitable and scary then he won’t have to fear it himself. In other words, what he repeats so often in an almost OCD fashion is actually projection.

        • @DocD @scotterb Yeah, it’s kind of creepy the way he latches on to trite little phrases and repeats them over and over again. I’m not sure if he thinks we’re animals that need calming or 4 year olds needing indoctrination.

          Either way, it’s creepy.

  • “The median age in the Arab world is about 23.”

    And the median age of the /leaders/ in the Arab world is at least twice that. Try to get it through your head, Erb. These turds you keep trying to polish up into glorious proto-modernists aren’t in charge and they’re never going to be in charge. They’re just a bunch of clueless young tools who will someday become clueless old tools. If they survive that long.

    • @Achillea Don’t burst his love of youth. After all, when did youthful idealism ever go wrong? No one ever joined a youth movement and ended up in the snow in a forest dying a pointless death in a last ditch attempt to hold off an advancing army, now did they? Or end up blowing themselves up on a bus in the holy land hoping to gain glory but just becoming another tool? Or countless other poor young bastards lead astray by those trying to “educate” them.

      Blut und Ehre, Erb. Blut und Ehre.

  • It may be possible for the Egyptians to vote for Islamists this time, but regret it and vote them out next time. Its not likely because the Islamists may not allow free elections again, but it is possible.

    To get there, you have to make some assumptions:

    1) The voters really aren’t Islamists but just vote that way for psychic utility, i.e. makes them feel good. this is highly possible as the Myth of the Rational Voter shows.

    2) The voters will regret their vote once Islamist policies are implemented. This is possible as well. See the Caliphate in Sunni Iraq – Al Qaeda did not make many friends once they had power in some regions. BUT, the Israel angle may let voters forgive a lot. And again, we have to assume more elections actually happen, or that a constitution will allow liberals a chance. Keep your fingers crossed.

    The key for the USA would be to make absolutely sure elections keep getting held. And probably start preparing the refugee visas for the Copts.

    • @Harun I was so disgusted with the Islam-bashing here I wasn’t going to respond again — just chalk it up to knee jerk emotion from the right — but this is a more reasonable post. First, I think you’re wrong to assume that political Islam is all hyper extremist and conservative. I’ve talked to an expert on the Islamic Brotherhood, and it’s a very diverse group and extremism is not a majority position. They also know that if they are to be elected again (and you’re right that it’s important elections happen again) they can’t turn off the public. Second, do not expect policies to be extreme. Sharia law can be very modern and benign, and the extreme examples often given are not the norm. Moreover, the military is not going to simply disappear. There are multiple forces and actors operating.

      But the idea that political Islam is inherently dangerous or bad is very misguided notion. No one should be surprised by the election results, the reaction people have make it sound like this is a shock or unexpected. Political Islam will be around for a long time and face numerous pressures. What’s the alternative?

      • @scotterb The problem is the Salafis got 20% of the vote, too. That’s not a signal that the Brothers will moderate at all. I’ve actually lived in a Muslim country and you are kidding yourself with all the talk of moderation – its often a one way street of pressure and shame to become less moderate, not more. Take a peak at that college photo of Egypt in 1977 vs. 2007.

        Jesus, 20% Salafi vote plus 40% for the brotherhood. Would you be so sanguine if Michelle Bachmann was the “moderate” getting 40% numbers and some even more religious kook was getting 20% in a parliamentary system? I bet you would not. If you are okay with political Islam tell you lefty friends that having religious fundamentalists win in America is not a bad idea – its not inherently dangerous, right?

        Also, the issue of Israel is paramount for our concerns. If Egypt wants to have their main parties vie for who can shut down more music concerts or field the most religious police it doesn’t really worry me, except they will probably do something to show they are different from Mubarak on Israel. That would involve the US.

      • @scotterb “Political Islam will be around for a long time and face numerous pressures. What’s the alternative?”

        Being cautious with your optimism. People are annoyed with you and the media because of that, not because they think we can somehow stop political Islam.

        “Yay! The Tsar is gone! The Russians are having elections…wait, no some weird little party is saying all power to the soviets instead…weird, that party seems to be taking over…whooops, we now have something worse than the Tsar.”

        That should be your cautionary principle.

      • @scotterb @Harun You mean you stomped off in a huff but then being a narcissist “intellectual” your compulsion to win the argument was too strong and you had to come back and fling some authority and redneck accusations around to make sure that when your students stumble past here they properly realize that the only reason your ass was handed to you on a plate, again, is not because your positions change with the breeze and are straight out of other people’s books and reveal a shallow and inexperienced view of the world but because you were talking to inbred rightwing hillbillies who fear their own shadows and can barely string two words to make a sentence.

      • @scotterb @Harun Not Islam bashing fool, Radical Islam bashing. Just like Nancy Pelosi thinks she’s a good Catholic, complete with her support for abortion, I’m sure there are many people who practice Islam who are not prepared to kill Copts or Jews or westerners just because they don’t practice Islam, and have no desire to bring them under the Caliphate.

        Radical – that’s the word boob, Radical.

        Go throw your generalization around somewhere else.

        • @scotterb @Harun And I apologize, I should have used another example, Pelosi is an ass and a woman of goofed up faith.

          I’ve worked with, and gone through Boy Scouts with, muslims who were fine decent people from every interaction I had with them, and seemed to be as respectful of my beliefs as I was of theirs. And there’s no way sitting here right now reflecting on it that I could be convinced they were trying to sucker me as an infidel while they secretly plotted to convert, politically enslave, or kill me when the time was ripe.

      • @scotterb @Harun The alternative? Not following the path of fundamentalist Islam that locks women behind closed doors, needs (x) non participating males witnesses to a rape, doesn’t advocate stoning women, doesn’t treat people of other religions as inferiors, doesn’t forbid the worship of other higher powers, etc, etc, etc.

        That’s the alternative. Furthermore is that your demand? that we come up with a plan FOR them and implement it? All we’re doing here, effectively, is pissing and moaning about how it worked out the way we expected it to and how we wish it would have been different. And, most significantly, that this poses a real world threat to one of our allies, and in various direct, and indirect ways, to us as the current world’s policeman on the block. We’re mentally preparing to understand why we might have to go and break things and hurt people when we’d rather NOT have to do that. It’s not some theoretical historical argument, it’s real world, it’s now, and we better understand it realistically.

        You flounce in and advise us to be patient, and to expect some eggs to be broken while the omlet is made and tell us that’s okay, and that the sun will come out tomorrow all will be good in some indeterminate but not near term future. Go stuff yourself, the future I want for the Egyptian people isn’t the future they’re about to get and I don’t like it and I’m not going to smile and hand wave and repeat cultish mantras that it’s good and necessary.

        • @scotterb @Harun And, by the way, just to be crystal clear – the future I’d like for them is one where they are at peace with their neighbors, prosperous, as happy as possible, able to worship, or not worship as they choose, even if their primary religion is Islam while mine is not. Where their women are the equal of their men and where at the end of a day of visiting their cities and monuments any person other than the most obnoxious jackass can say “wow, I love Egypt”.

          I can dream too – and there’s not a country in the world that I wish any different on at the end of the day.

      • @scotterb “I’ve talked to an expert on the Islamic Brotherhood, and it’s a very diverse group and extremism is not a majority position.”

        Then you’ve talked to an expert on the *Muslim* Brotherhood (not the *Islamic* Brotherhood) who doesn’t know anything about it. See Andrew McCarthy’s The Grand Jihad for the full run-down on the Brotherhood, which doesn’t make any secret about what it wants. Though it peddles a watered-down song and dance for its Western accomplices in the media and academentia. I pointed that out to you repeatedly while you were swooning like a school girl over the “Arab Spring.”

        And your repeated claim of “Islam bashing” here is yet another attempt to escape into slander from your losing argument. The poverty of your arguments, you might want to consider, stems from the poverty of your soul.

  • I think that I’ve read every comment by Scott Erb in this thread. If you wanted to assemble a handbook of “Diseased and Corrupt Arguments,” his work here would get you about home with that project. I think it was Philip Rieff, perhaps in his later work “My Life Among the Deathworks,” who said that the chief characteristic of our age was forgetfullness, about who we are and where we come from and what we have experienced. Erb is a man who repeats himself endlessly while forgetting what he has previously said without knowing what he is talking about, or making any effort to know. This is both a psychological state and an expression of the Left as it is and really always has been. It is emptiness filled with the nothing of an empty self, a reflection in a mirror with nothing in front of it. The power of men who have ceased to think. Yet, this presentation vitally informs us of the who and what is in, and wants yet more, power, because the one thing that Erb was right about was when he said of Obama, “finally, a president who thinks like me.” The damnation and the praise are spooled together in their clinical pathology.