Several years ago I was sitting in a restaurant downtown. There were no prophetic utterances of ‘revolution’ or but my friend was expressing fears regarding Islamist control of Egypt.
‘What, exactly, are you worried about?’ I would ask.
Alcohol was a second issue.
My counter at the time was that if the government / leadership was actually honest, then the amount of good they could accomplish would by far exceed what I considered the mild inconveniences involved.
If the Brotherhood would swoop in, I argued, run a non-corrupt, honest government, and actually channel the country’s resources to create better standards of living for millions now deprived of it several stages down along Maslow’s Pyramid – then who the hell am I to complain if I can’t have a drink?
But, of course, that’s simplistic.
It’s just as easy to fear for freedom of expression in the arts, in literature, in ways that could, to many of us, stifle our minds – an immediate threat to our creativity.
Any threat to thought is oppression.
The smartest thing the Muslim Brotherhood should do right now – and which would go some way to restoring their credibility to the revolutionaries who have so often felt at best ‘abandoned’ by them – would be to push for an immediate civilian retrial of all Military Trial victims, and a complete cessation on the use of Military Trials against civilians.
If the Freedom & Justice Party and Nour help us do just that – It would go a long way towards showing the rest of us that their departures have been tactical and not hostile – that their hostility is a defect, and not an attitude – that they have been ‘clever’ and not just power-hungry, chair-seeking, clothing-obsessed eccentrics – of which some can get very, very angry.
It’s really not cool.
I do not care if a girl wears a hijab or not. I find them unnecessary and inconvenient, and I know there are strong arguments against them being instructed – but it’s really up to her what she decides to do, and I’m completely opposed to fascist pseudo-liberals who approve of banning the Hijab, the Niqab, or Appite for Destruction T-Shirts.
You do not legalize away people’s right to do things that you might think are wrong. You just don’t. If you’re a Moslem, don’t drink. It’s that simple. If you’re a Moslem, don’t gamble. If you’re a Muslim, disagree with Dawkins, write it up.
Win the moral battles, not the legislative ones – you cannot force virtue – assuming you even give yourself the right to assume that it is yours to define.
The problem with pursuing the ends and not the means is well-illustrated in Alan Moore’s ‘Watchem’ – Ozymandias (Adrian) has been manipulating a grand apocalyptic show to usher forth (at some expense, millions dead) – a New Golden Age, etc. – and he asks Dr. Manhattan (to whom we are like insects – he’s blue and can do just about anything he wants) – if he “did the right thing in the end”. Manhattan replies that “In the end? Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends.”
I want to see a photograph in the paper, on the tv news – showing a whole bunch of Brand New Nice & Shiny Members of Parliament from all parties – surrounded by the released youth of Egypt – especially those who – for symbolic and political reasons – most differ with the Islamists on religion and freedom of expression. It needs to be clear that they will, truly – embrace the revolution, knowing full well, that it was the revolution that led them to the streets, and not their leadership. That the power that held us in the revolution was our concern for Egypt and that we understood quite well that Egypt was us – and that we were wonderful – that each of us knew that he was surrounded by thousands of strangers any of whom would protect you – you didn’t know all their names, or where in Egypt they came from, or whether they were Coptic, Moslim, Jewish or Buddhist, but you trusted them nonetheless – because they, like you – were not the oppressor.
It is the oppressor who will no longer be tolerated, whoever that may be.