terça-feira, 23 de agosto de 2011

The Big Pharaoh and the average Egyptian

-- Mirror? What mirror?

-- Welcome suicide bombers!

Big Pharaoh (hat tip PJMedia) lives up to his reputation for straight shooting in his analysis of an Egyptian website poll showing that 49% of those who voted believe that the Mossad blew up Dahab — twice as many people as any other possibility. He discusses the response of a well educated friend:

“Israeli tourists don’t go to Eilat (a southern Israeli resort) anymore. Dahab and Sinai is much more cheaper and so they come to Egypt instead of spending their holidays in Israel” she explained.

“So you’re telling me Israel targeted a resort that is frequented by its own people and could have killed Israelis just to stop them from sunbathing in Sinai???” I asked.

“Yes. They could kill a few of their citizens to save the tourism industry there” she shot back.

Now this logic is particularly interesting since it concerns purely internal Israeli financial calculations. By this logic, Egyptians do not even figure in the calculus, it’s all about Israeli economic interests.

As students of conspiracy theory regularly point out, the way that people imagine the conspirators represents a projection that tells you about the way they think. Here a member of the Egyptian elite (on top of the prime divider) contemplates a government strategy that, for a minor economic advantage, kills a couple of dozen people (including “their own”) without a second thought. That’s not Islamic fanaticism, that’s classic aristocratic contempt for the rest of mankind.

Moreover, the sheer casualness of the analysis — of course Israelis would kill a few of their own civilians for an uptick in the Eilat tourist trade — gives a stark insight into one half of the Moebius strip of cognitive egocentrism. The Israelis are capable of any disgusting deed, including knocking off their own people for temporary economic gain to the owning class. Never mind that they will sacrifice their own soldiers’ lives to avoid casualties to the enemy’s civilians. No wonder Jenin must be a “massacre.” If it were seen for what it was, how could people go on with this kind of analysis. No wonder there can’t be peace between these people, when one side cannot begin to imagine what’s going on on the other side — and the two sides are not! the same.

I wanted to bang my head against a wall!

I have said countless times before that the root cause of the darkness we’re living in is our unwillingness to look in the mirror and start criticizing ourselves and the cult of death we allowed to infect our society. We don’t want to admit that many of our children are willing to kill themselves in order to massacre others. We don’t want to admit that religion needs renewal and reform to suit the year 2006 and not 1006. We don’t want to admit anything of that. Do you know why ladies and gentlemen we don’t want to do that? We’re just busy and in a constant state of denial. We’re busy hating America. We’re busy blaming Israel.

We are also living in a disgusting state of narcissism. We think we are the best nation handpicked by God. Our nations have the best religion approved by heaven. Nothing wrong can be in us, nothing wrong can be in our culture, and nothing wrong can be in our religious beliefs. It must be the evil “outsiders.”

This is a good example of “chosenness as privilege” rather than as “responsibility.” It gives an excellent view of the “normative” view of chosenness that historically has informed both Muslim and Christian supersessionist thinking — we are the new chosen people who replace the old (for Christians, Jews; for Muslims, Jews and Christians). When one then projects that envious and imperialist notion of chosenness back onto the Jews, one gets the widespread dislike of Jews for being so arrogant as to think of themselves as the chosen people.

There is no doubt whatsoever that all Egyptians condemned this terrorist attack and were shocked when it happened. Yet I am not really talking about this specific attack. I am referring to our general condition that gave birth to murderers from Bali to New York. Many are to blame here. Our repressive governments, the economic disaster they created, the humiliation millions of youth are feeling, and above all the deadly religious rhetoric that wants to draw us hundreds of years backward.

Allow me to add to your list, a media (both Arab and Western) so eager to believe the worst about the Israelis, so ready to forgive any excess from the Palestinians (chosen people of the left), that when the bombings first started many people — even good-hearted people — they found it relatively easy to say, “what choice do they have?” So in addition to your own cultural problems, Big Pharaoh, you have a supposedly enlightened West eagerly (if unconsciously) feeding your people’s own worst instincts. It’s hard to fight that.

I thought we’ll finally start looking in the mirror once we ourselves get bombed by terrorists. I thought that once we get torn into pieces by suicide bombers we’ll realize that the Palestinian suicide bomber will not end up in paradise but in the lowest pit of hell. Unfortunately, I was wrong. We’re still so busy to look in the mirror and see the ugly face there.

One could restate this in terms of a European lament: “Once the suicide terrorism has hit us, then we’ll rethink our championing of the Palestinians.” But Madrid and London, like 9-11, had mixed results. Many rushed to appease and self-criticize (really to blame the West), and only some people began to rethink the situation rather than to continue to slide into moral disorientation. Apparently there are too many psychological factors lying behind the demonization of Israel and the “chosenness” of the Palestinians for a mere suicide bombing or two of one’s own people to cause such a massive paradigm shift.

My condolences to you, your people, and your painful predicament, and my apologies for the unconscionable ways in which my culture’s supposed progressives contribute so irresponsibly to all our suffering, yours, ours, the Muslims who must live through this wave of fascist theocracy, and, perhaps in first place, the suffering of the Palestinian people.

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