We Are Not All Egyptians

The brutal attack on television reporter Lara Logan is the most powerful evidence yet that the Western media’s portrayal of the Egyptian revolution has been too optimistic at best, and deceptive at worst.

Logan, CBS News’ chief foreign affairs correspondent, was reporting from Cairo’s Tahrir Square when she was attacked by a group of as many as 200 male protesters.  She suffered, according to the network, “a brutal and sustained sexual assault” that lasted 20 to 30 minutes.

The New York Post reported that the attackers screamed, “Jew!  Jew!” as they assaulted Logan (who is not Jewish).  CBS waited five days to break the story, doing so only after other news agencies threatened to go public.  Even after news of the attack broke, much of the mainstream media buried the story.

It is reasonable to wonder whether the media downplayed the brutal attack because it did not fit the predominant media narrative about the Egyptian “revolution.”

Since the crisis began last January, most of the Western media have portrayed the Egyptian people as peace-loving democrats.  The crowds in Cairo were characterized as friendly and boisterous.  As Michael Graham noted, “Even CBS’ own statement said Logan was ‘covering the jubilation’ and was attacked ‘amidst the celebration.’ “

New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote from Cairo, “The lion-hearted Egyptians I met on Tahrir Square are risking their lives to stand up for democracy and liberty, and they deserve our strongest support and, frankly, they should inspire us as well.”

“Today,” he concluded, “we are all Egyptians.”

President Obama even compared the protests with those surrounding the fall of the Berlin Wall and the American Civil Rights Movement.

I don’t doubt that millions of Egyptians want economic opportunity, free elections, and other basic human and political rights.  We should do what we can to help them.

But just because Egyptians are clamoring for change does not mean they all embrace Western notions of freedom and democracy.  Just because the protesters are using the latest social networking technology such as Twitter and Facebook does not mean they all hold modern views on religious pluralism and women’s rights.

In fact, there is ample evidence that millions of Egyptians are sympathetic to the worst elements of radical Islam, including anti-Semitism, hatred of the U.S. and Israel, intolerance of people of different faiths, and, as the sexual assault of Logan  demonstrated, hatred of, and hostility toward, women.

Everywhere radical Islamists are in control, “infidel” women are not safe.  There are whole neighborhoods in Paris where a French woman can’t walk down the street safely.  Australian women who sunbathe on the beaches of their country are repeatedly harassed by young Muslim mobs who call them “whores” and “sluts.”

Rapes of Scandinavian women by Muslim immigrants are a growing problem in Europe.  And, of course, in traditional Muslim societies, Muslim women are deprived the basic rights that American feminists take for granted.

A much-discussed December Pew poll found that huge majorities of Egyptians support forcing men and women to be segregated in the workplace, and favor death sentences for adulterers, and those who convert from Islam to another faith.

The popular perception is that Egyptians are yearning for democracy and freedom.  Many are.  But the poll found that nearly 60% of those who see a struggle between the country’s modernizers and fundamentalists associate with the latter.  And a majority supports suicide bombing in at least some circumstances.

Just a couple days ago, hundreds of thousands of people gathered at Tahrir Square to listen to the raving of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a prominent Muslim scholar who routinely attacks Christians, Jews, the U.S., Israel, and Muslims whom he deems insufficiently committed to jihad.

These views set millions of Egyptians distinctly apart from the Judeo-Christian values of Western civilization.  The leaders of Europe’s three great powers—Great Britain, France, and Germany—have all recently denounced as failures their nations’ experiments in multiculturalism.  But American liberals continue to promote the idea that Western and Islamic values are wholly compatible.

This delusion not only leads to serious foreign policy mistakes—it has also cost lives right here in the U.S.

A new report from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs highlights the role multiculturalism played in the Fort Hood massacre.  Titled “A Ticking Time Bomb,” the report details how the gunman, U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, was repeatedly promoted by superiors who chose to ignore his increasingly Islamist and anti-American beliefs.

Hasan was unfit to serve and a danger to his fellow soldiers.  But, the report found, his superiors were paralyzed by political correctness and multiculturalism.  They failed to act, because as journalist Dorothy Rabinowitz has written, “In the multiculturalist world, there is no taboo more powerful than the one that forbids acknowledgment of realities not in keeping with the progressive vision.”

In his 2009 visit to Cairo, President Obama elaborated the progressive vision regarding Islam, asserting that it, “has a proud tradition of tolerance.”  Obama said he had come to Egypt “seek[ing] a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.  One based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based on the truth that American and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition.”

“Instead,” Obama insisted, “they overlap, and share common principles—principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”

Expressions of solidarity with those seeking to be freed from the grip of autocracy and oppression are understandable.  But we shouldn’t assume that most Egyptians want the same things we do.  Nor should we assume they will prevail against those elements who would replace Mubarak’s autocratic rule with radical Islamist oppression.