10 Feb 2011

Two Views of Egyptian Protestors

Pacifism, War on Terror 26 Comments

Since I’ve been on the road, I haven’t had time to listen to my usual suite of AM talk radio guys (which I normally hear on the way to work/lunch/etc.). I have just been getting my views of the Egyptian protests from people like Jeff Tucker (who gave a great talk at the Infinite Banking Concepts meeting in Birmingham on Wednesday) and Lew Rockwell:

“Peaceful, Peaceful”

That is the chant of the non-violent Egyptian resistance, as its members march on the Mubarak presidential palace, guarded by scared-looking young soldiers behind razor wire. The US media and State keep calling for the army to take over to prevent “chaos,” i.e., freedom. Yet what a model for all the world’s oppressed peoples these resisters are. They are showing us, once again, that non-violence can overcome the State and its armies and secret police, whereas returning violence for violence ends in massacre. Threats, torture, murder, beating, caging, these are the tools of the State. We, the opponents of the State, cannot possibly beat it at its own game, nor should we try. But with non-violence, we have a chance. Conscripted soldiers, break your weapons and go home to your families. Those you love need your hands and your brains, not your bullets.

But then on the road today (going from my “debate” with Atlanta Fed economist Jerry Dwyer to the Mises high school seminar outside of Knoxville) I heard Sean Hannity talking about it. I only listened for a few minutes, but the take-away message was: This is very bad. The radical Muslims are taking over in Egypt just like they did in Iran. When will leftists (in the media and the Obama administration) realize that these people want to kill us?

My point in the present post isn’t even to pick sides (though you can guess where my sympathies lie). Rather, I was just astounded at how diametrically opposed the reactions were. Since I had been isolated for a few days, it hadn’t occurred to me what the “conservative” take would be. I just sorta figured everybody would be in favor of peaceful people demanding that a murderous dictator step down.

26 Responses to “Two Views of Egyptian Protestors”

  1. Zach Kurtz says:

    I’m worried about this too, especially because Mubarak was amenable to being friendly towards Israel as of late. But are we sure that the protestors are radical muslims? Most of the them seem like moderate college students.

  2. Dan says:

    I fear radical neocons more than anybody in the middle east. It turns my stomach when I hear people talk about Mubarak and him being a puppet, or I mean friend of the U.S. and Israel. The guy is a murderous tyrant. Peace isn’t achieved by making deals with the devil. I want peace for the Egyptians as well as everybody else and would never condemn them to a life under the terrible tyrant Mubarak just for Israels sake. Hannity, Beck, Cheney, etc. make me sick.

    • Blackadder says:

      The radical neocons are very anti-Mubarak.

      • bobmurphy says:

        Really? Who? (I’m not challenging you, I’m asking genuinely.)

  3. Juggernaut says:

    a) The protesters can hardly be described as peaceful. Over 300 people have died so far.

    b) The people of Egypt aren’t exactly enlightened libertarians who believe in freedom and tolerance.

    84% of these people support the death penalty for people who leave Islam. 82% support stoning adulterers to death. (Source: Pew Research centre)

    So, a fair election will probably end up putting some Islamist in power….. Probably somebody much worse than the current dictator.

    The spiritual leader of the primary opposition party, the muslim brotherhood—- who incidentally has a TV show with an audience 20 times the size of Sean Hannity—- is a nasty piece of work who openly says on his show that Adolf Hitler was doing God’s work…. and that the “believers” should finish what he started.

    • Blackadder says:

      The protesters can hardly be described as peaceful. Over 300 people have died so far.

      The 300 people who have died were *protesters*.

      • Juggernaut says:

        No… That figure includes policemen and innocent bystanders.

        Besides, these people have been going wild looting the homes of rich people and destorying mummies in museums.

        Let’s not pretend that these people are latter day followers of Gandhi.

        • Christopher says:

          Do you have reliable information as to who killed how many people? All I have is a article saying that the vast majority was killed by police fire.

          You seem to believe that “the protesters” are one homogenous group not consisting of serarate individuals. A way to think that I thought libertarians oppose to. There are thousands of people protesting. Problaby millions of people symphasizing with them. And there are people who abuse the situation as a cover for their criminal activities. But you can’t blame everybody else for the actions of some individuals. Or can you proof that it is generally accepted amog these protestors to steal and destroy things. I don’t think you can.
          So please blame those who actually committed those crimes not those who didn’t.

        • knoxharrington says:

          I think we should look to Jackie Chiles for an understanding of innocent bystanders.


    • JimS says:

      I’m with Jugtgernaut on this.

      Many have died. The press reporting of this in the US is very uninformed and very slanted. News crews have been kidnapped. A woman from Code Pink was kidnapped and had to be rescued by US trained Egyptian Army forces (Oh! The irony.) And since when does anyone on this site fully trust the US press?

      Did everyone forget that the Mulism Bortherhood was involved in the assasiniation of Sadaat?

      If this is so wonderful and peaceful, why has everyone who could have fled the country done so?

      This is not good. Not to say that Mubarak was a saint. And don’t forget that the doubling of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal has gone largely unreported.

      This instability combined with a failing Pakistan (bankrupt and over run with al quada and taliban) and a possibly nuclear Iran is bad news. It is great to be libertarian minded and say if I can have a nuke, why can’t he? But the fact is, he doesn’t think like you or value things the same as you. First, they may pound each other and the Israelis, but we are kidding ourselves if they do not wish to threaten us.

      Bottom line, he that beats his sword into a plowshare will plow for those who don’t, or in this case, igonres those who don’t.


  4. Christopher says:

    The best thing that could happen to radical islamists in Egypt is that the US follows Hannity’s advice and supports Mubarak. Ultimately he will be overthrown. The questions is, will those who follow say “We demanded freedom and democracy and the US supported our endeavor, they are our friends” or will they be saying “America likes to talk about freedom and liberty but when we stood here fighting for our freedom they let us down, they aren’t the land of the free but the land of the hypocrites.”
    Oppositions to this will only strenghten the small number of radicals among the protesters.

    @ Juggernaut
    a) Impressive number, if only you had mentioned who killed whom. You seem to imply that the protesters killed other people. Do you have any proof or indication for that? My information is that the vast majority of the victims was killed by police ammunition.

    b) Can you cite that study. I searched for it at Pew Research centre but couldn’t find it.

    The muslim brotherhood probably is what you describe it to be. The funny thing, however, is that it wasn’t even involved in the protests at the beginning. People who had no relation to them started this thing because they want freedom; not islamic rule. In any event, supporting Mubarak’ oppressing regime in Egypt will only strenghten the muslim brotherhood.

    • Juggernaut says:

      Oops, I replied to the wrong person.

      Please see the link in my post after Martin’s.

    • Juggernaut says:

      Martin seems to have found the link as well

  5. Martin says:

    @Christopher: It’s today on their website: http://pewresearch.org/databank/dailynumber/?NumberID=1184

    I am all for Mubarak stepping down and be replaced by a democratic liberal (in the European sense) leader. I just don’t see that happening when I see these kind of numbers. A democracy is merely a means to an end and progression towards democracy can also mean a decrease in freedom (Political freedom is not the only freedom). The latter is what I expect to happen to Egypt based on those poll numbers.

    Even in arguably one of the greatest democracies on Earth, the USA, a plurality (not necessarily a majority) is still able to have homosexuals treated as second class citizens when it comes to marriage. Even if the numbers are substantially smaller it will impact the elections and you will see politicians pandering to that extreme right. What I expect to happen after the Mubarak would step down, is a political campaign based on a return to traditional Islamic values and a repudiation of the peace treaty with Israel in support of ‘our oppressed Muslim brothers’. Not really a platform you want to publicly oppose in the middle east.

  6. Bob Roddis says:

    1. Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly and Fox News have been pounding this same idiotic drum since the Egypt thing began weeks ago. They are impossible to listen to or watch. . They are the flip side of Krugman and Yglesias on DiLorenzo. Our opponents are all mad as a hatter and off the leash. There is no common ground.

    2. The problem is “democracy”, aka “mob rule” or kleptocracy. That is the alleged object of all of our foreign wars, except when we realize that the local mob will elect a true mob. Multi-ethnic democracy leads to Rwanda almost invariably. Thus, the Hannity types are having our troops kill and be killed for the sake of Clinton-esque “progressive” democracy which leads to hell-holes. Obviously, the only time civilized people should “recognize” a revolution is when it clearly respects private property and individual rights.

    3. Justin Raimondo notes that democratic Islamic Iraq is problably going to ban dancing soon:


    Good job, Dubya.

  7. Daniel Hewitt says:

    Will Grigg has written some great stuff recently on this topic.


    • Bob Roddis says:

      Thanks, Daniel.

      Will Grigg is absolutely amazing.

  8. Teqzilla says:

    Why is everyone pretending to know this, that, and the other? I know very little about Egyptian society and haven’t got a clue what the ultimate outcome of events in Egypt will be. I’m going to do the sensible thing and wait for matters to take their course before going on to mock everyone that was proven wrong.

  9. david says:

    I don’t know what to think either. Obviously, it’s hard to ague that democracy is not a source of legitimacy in government, particularly by comparison with despotism. However, just as obviously, more democracy does not equal more liberty. While democracy can be a source of legitimacy, it is not always a source of legitimacy.

    As to where one’s sympathies lie or should lie, I suppose not a bad test (or an element of a test) for libertarians might be to ask: “will members of minorities or traditionally weaker groups have more individual sovereignty under whatever alternative emerges or under Mubarak?”

    Another perspective (flawed but perhaps not completely without merit):


    These are simply observations – whatever one thinks, none of this suggests the basis for action or policy by, for example, the US.

  10. RS says:

    I am all for taking down dictators but it is a legitimate concern to be wary of what might take its place. Egypt is a major player in middle east politics and the undeniable fact of the matter is that the arab-muslim countries have about the worst track record, indeed arguable THE worst record, for respect for individual rights and freedom as we define it in the US. This post makes some very compelling arguments to that effect.


  11. Michael says:

    the Egyptians are as clueless about freedom as are the Saudis. They really don’t know what they want, but they are “against” Mubarak, that’s all, and it just isn’t enough. The American Revolutionaries were against the Crown, but also knew what they wanted, and had a philosophical base for what they wanted. Not knowing what they want, the Egyptians are likely to wind up with something much worse than Mubarak. There isn’t a major player in the power struggle going on in Egypt now who is in the least “pro-freedom” as we understand it. We had the past and modern “Tea Parties.” Have the Egyptians a “Hookah Party”? No. They may be living in the 21st century, but their mentalities are still medieval. They’re just looking for a pleasanter master.

    To compound the problem, the USA keeps uttering this nonsense about “democracy” (from Jefferson to Lincoln to Reagan to G.W Bush). the much-vaunted system of democracy demands that we are to have rule by “the people,” not by any special sub-set of them, not by the wisest, not by the most-informed, not by the predominantly liberty-loving among us, and not by the most prescient and forward-looking.This is what “the people” want, and according to modern political theory they are not to be denied their wishes, “hopes” and “aspirations,” no matter how silly they may be, no matter how stupid, how ill-informed, how misguided, how myopic, how reckless, how unjust.

    • bobmurphy says:

      Michael wrote:

      the Egyptians are as clueless about freedom as are the Saudis. They really don’t know what they want, but they are “against” Mubarak, that’s all, and it just isn’t enough.

      It’s interesting that you put “against” in quotation marks. People aren’t allowed to say they are against a guy who has ruled many of them since they were born, and apparently killed a bunch of people, without having first mastered Rothbard?

    • KP says:

      “The American Revolutionaries were against the Crown, but also knew what they wanted, and had a philosophical base for what they wanted.”

      A contradictory, conspiracy theory-laden and delusion philosophical base perhaps.


  12. Martin says:

    If this would be considered then please remove, but I wanted to share this as I believe it pretty much captures the opinion of many here as well. The dioynasian anarchist and the stability loving burke capture my attitude rather well and I think in many cases yours as well.