American revolution

on 40 Comments

I insist that the Egyptian revolution is having a huge effect on our discourse. Two indications that I am right: 

–On Saturday, Hillary Mann Leverett was on MSNBC. Alex Witt asked her about the Muslim Brotherhood, and Leverett said they were a legitimate part of the Egyptian polity and were opposed to the inhumane blockade of Gaza. Or words to that effect. She went on for a bit about Gaza. It was a huge moment for the mainstream media, not to hear the usual b.s. about Hamas and weapons.

–Today on WNYC, public radio in New York, Brian Lehrer hosted on Nawal El Saadawi, an Egyptian feminist. When Lehrer got out some homiletics about how Suzanne Mubarak had been good for feminism in Egypt and had battled female genital mutilation, El Saadawi dismissed him, saying that the first lady had coopted feminism and actually deterred the battle against female genital mutilation. (This same analysis, applied to the Palestinians, would allow Americans to understand how the P.A. has normalized the occupation.) But let me salute Lehrer. To his great credit, Lehrer has been staggered by the Egyptian revolution and has responded by opening up his show to many Arab and Arab-American voices, including voices of the Egyptian Diaspora.

On the other hand, look at the list of 8 names just below the word “Directory” at Foreign Policy (it’s on a strip at the left hand side, halfway down the page). Eight men, five of them Jewish. No Arab-Americans. Yes I know, this is the flavor of the U.S. establishment. But it sure does feel a little samey. 

40 Responses

  1. Kathleen
    February 7, 2011, 12:38 pm

    Thanks for this Phil.

    And now if we can get Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews to have Flynt Leverett on their programs to actually provide a wider perspective on Iran etc. Instead of always hearing Maddow repeat the warmongers unsubstantiated claims. Mix it up all ready. Get some fact based guest on Iran on your program Maddow. She never has anyone on who could or would challenge her on these false claims about Iran.

    Dylan Ratigan, Cenk Uygar, Chris Matthews are better bets to have opposing views on

    Have now seen Peter Bergen on several of the MSM T.V. news outlets addressing the history of the Muslim Brotherhood. Clear and somewhat neutral overview. He confirmed that the Muslim Brotherhood had nothing to do with Sadat’s assasination (which (cough) some have fueled) and talked about the make up of the Brotherhood.

    On this Sunday’s Meet The Press David Gregory kind of went after El Baradei after he flipped the “does the Brotherhood (who supports El Baradei) support the Israeli Egypt peace agreement” El Baradei politely shot back something like “where is Israel in this equation” There has to be a partner. David Gregory went after El Baradei’s jugular. Still hear Richard Engel etc undermining El Baradei. Think you would be interested in the David Gregory/El Baradei encounter on the middle east.

    Hey if you are shedding light on the numbers of Jewish individuals who write at Foreign Policy (we do know that some Jewish reporters, talking heads etc can report fairly about the I/P , but not many). I still say NPR’s host of programs needs to be disected. How the media’s filtering/blocking system works is fascinating

    • Driss Moonves
      February 7, 2011, 2:41 pm

      Maddow, always obsessive in her likes and dislikes, just doesn’t care for “the Arab.”

  2. Kathleen
    February 7, 2011, 12:41 pm

    Jane Harman Resigning From Congress over at Huff Po.

    Wonder how Jane “waddling on over to the Aipac espionage investigation/trial to see what she could do” will interfere in justice in her new position?

    Too bad that the investigation into her conversations with Israel’s agents was shut down. Or was it?

    • traintosiberia
      February 7, 2011, 4:53 pm

      Illinios Governor lost his job and has been hauled befire grand jury anmd is under indictment for the same kind of offenses commiotted by free , functioning Harman!

  3. Kathleen
    February 7, 2011, 12:54 pm

    So Wisner continued to undermine democracy in Egypt by telling Mubarak to stay.

    Robert Fisk article at the Independent about this is a good one

    • pineywoodslim
      February 7, 2011, 1:08 pm

      So . . . . Wisner’s law firm is counsel to Egypt’s military? How on earth does the administration not vet these people at least for the pretense of even-handedness?

      • Kathleen
        February 7, 2011, 1:19 pm

        They had to know. The I lobby and multinationals had to trump these concerns. Get that “stay Mubarak” and Sulieman you are the man now.

        The MSM has really been shedding some light on the Mubarak billions. Hope they shed some light on Suliemans money and the millions and billions in the military hierarchy…..follow that money

      • Chaos4700
        February 7, 2011, 1:42 pm

        The problem is, the MSM can’t do that without exposing the Pentagon and the CIA too. So will they?

      • annie
        February 7, 2011, 2:08 pm

        no, that’s why the internet is dangerous for them. but once news has saturated the net it starts permeating the mainstream.

      • Kathleen
        February 8, 2011, 11:38 am

        It is amazing to watch info come up on the more reputable blogs and then watch the info come out on the MSM 24 hours later.

        When Christian Peace maker team member Art Gish would be writing to us from Palestinian refugee camps about what was happenning this information would take months if not years to make it out anywhere in the U.S. When Christian Peace Maker Team Peggy Gish was in Iraq before and after the invasion of Iraq she would write us about the torture going in in Abu Gharib and other issues and it would take a half of a year to make it into the MSM.

      • annie
        February 7, 2011, 2:05 pm

        How on earth does the administration not vet these people at least for the pretense of even-handedness?

        they’re vetted alright, not for even-handedness but to get the job done. they rely on the naivete of the masses and the reliability of the silencing factor of the ‘you’re a conspiracy theorist’ screamers.

      • crone
        February 7, 2011, 2:34 pm

        First of all, great job Phil!

        I totally agree Annie… Of course the State Department knew Wisner’s background… a simple search of Wiki would have told them all they needed to know.

        Someone has already added Wisner’s ‘gaffe’ to wiki…

    • CK MacLeod
      February 7, 2011, 1:31 pm

      Fisk seems, as often, to be too obsessed with the trees to see the forest here.

      Why assume that Wisner was selected other than precisely because he was well-known to and trusted by Mubarak and the rest of the regime? O was supposed to send Noam Chomsky? If O decided to talk to Hamas, wouldn’t you expect him to send someone more like Mark Perry than Martin Peretz?

      Fisk’s interests and O’s interests – or O’s perception of the U.S. interest – aren’t identical. Even Wisner’s “gaffe,” next to the manner in which it has been disowned, is completely in line with O’s typical positioning, and with the U.S. overall strategy… as is the “radical” rejection of this positioning and strategy.

      • Kathleen
        February 8, 2011, 11:41 am

        You may be right about O’s intentions…but I don’t think so. Clinton knows what Wisner is all about

  4. Kathleen
    February 7, 2011, 1:20 pm

    and the blood

  5. bijou
    February 7, 2011, 1:24 pm

    What’s also having a serious effect is the experience of journalists being beaten up and jailed… more than anything! Suddenly you see they “get it” — what it’s like to live without rights under a highly oppressive system. This is going to have a HUGE and lasting effect. Those 24 hours of beating up every who’s who of journalism were the best gift that this society has gotten in a long time.

    • CK MacLeod
      February 7, 2011, 2:07 pm

      I think you’re right, but it also underlined something else: The protesters depend on the international community as much as on the military for their physical security. Unlike the Chinese, the Egyptians were not able to black out the world all at once. But to whatever extent the international community loses interest and sympathy, or becomes divided, the protesters may find themselves re-exposed.

    • Kathleen
      February 8, 2011, 11:42 am

      Sure will not get them to challenge Israel’s successful and very well developed ability to keep them silent and out of the picture

  6. Les
    February 7, 2011, 2:32 pm

    The American Revolt may be a more accurate term than the American Revolution. Those who fought the British were fighting for rights the British were threatening to take away and were, indeed, taking away. Colonial Americans knew what they were doing way back when they took upon themselves the task of paying the salaries of their British appointed governors. In Massachusetts, sheriffs, judges, and the like were forced to resign their posts in very public gatherings, which removed legitimacy to the newly installed government officials the British had installed to deal with the obstreperous colonials.

    • lysias
      February 7, 2011, 3:50 pm

      One of those rights the Americans feared the British might soon take away from them was the right to own slaves. Even though Lord Mansfield’s decision in Somersett’s Case, 20 State Tr 1 (1772) on its face only declared void slavery in the British Isles (and left slavery in the British islands in the Caribbean untouched for several more decades,) Southern slaveowners feared that it was a harbinger of things to come. Slavery Nation by Alfred and Ruth Blumrosen persuasively argues that this was one of the major causes of the American Revolution.

      • Les
        February 7, 2011, 4:58 pm

        What you say is true but my focus was on the New Englanders who believed in freedom of religion and speech. These were people who had felt unrepresented in the legal institutions in England but very much transformed the parallel American versions into not just acceptable institutions but ones that had genuine legitimacy, which explains why the public forced office holders in Massachusetts to resign from the government. The break with England left American institutions, including slavery, very much in place. This has little resemblance to the French Revolution or even what is happening in Tunisia and Egypt where demands for regime change are taking place. For those countries it has become unacceptable to have new faces carrying the same evil deeds. In the newly independent American colonies, it was more like going back to a kind of normalcy.

      • Citizen
        February 7, 2011, 11:00 pm

        A kind of normalcy… the war of 1812 reveals that the Brits still believed “Americans” were still legally Brit subjects.

      • Les
        February 8, 2011, 9:33 am

        However poorly the Americans fought the War of 1812, the British were bewildered at how Americans of very different religious and ethnic backgrounds worked together to defeat the British.

  7. seafoid
    February 7, 2011, 3:10 pm

    The neocons made al Jazeera

    link to

    2003 The network is being transformed the way Gulf war 1 transformed CNN – but then CNN’s audience has never exceeded more than a few million, whereas al-Jazeera already speaks to a good 35 million people every day.

    link to

    2011 Through intrepid social networking, images of the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings have gone from local villages to our global audience of more than 200 million.

    • Lydda Four Eight
      February 7, 2011, 8:25 pm

      the Financial Times reported in 2010 that Murdoch/ News Corp was in some deal with one of the Gulf Princes (Saudi I believe). Then in another FT article there was a report about the fact that 50% of the Middle Eastern population is under 18 or something to that degree, that Arabic satellite channels outnumbered any other language and that News Corp was getting in on the milk and honey. given the low levels of literacy in some Middle Eastern countries and the fact that there are some homes with dirt floors, use indoor camp fires to make coffee BUT do have TV and satellite dishes as their only luxury is a scary thought.

      • Citizen
        February 7, 2011, 11:02 pm

        Scarier than the people on the Jerry Springer show? Or even, on Baggage?

      • Lydda Four Eight
        February 8, 2011, 2:23 am

        i was thinking more along the lines of Faux News and Nancy Ajram.

  8. pabelmont
    February 7, 2011, 3:34 pm

    Phil: The “8” names below “directory” at FP ? There are “9” and last is “Stephen Walt” (and is he “Jewish” or “Arab” [for your purpose])? But I take your meaning and agree that out of each 8 FP folks in any establishment group in the USA, 9 will likely be Zionists, Militarists, and anti-Democratists.

    • marc b.
      February 7, 2011, 4:39 pm

      don’t cloud phil’s beautiful mind with such minutiae. he has likely justed penned the title to his soon to be e-published memoir, in the declaritive style, subverting centuries of intellectual discursive exchange. instead of asking ‘what is to be done?’, or ‘reform of revolution?’, weiss gives us ‘two indications that [maybe] I am right[?]’. but don’t worry, odds are 2-1 that he will post a contradictory demi-declarative (he’s hedging his bets) within a week explaining why the egyptian revolutionary rocket fizzled, and how he saw it coming. but, yes, some of the 8 or 9 or so names in the directory may be jewish, no doubt evidence of the continued smooth functioning of the meritocracy.

  9. Todd
    February 7, 2011, 4:46 pm

    I seriously doubt that the elites in America are ready to give an inch on anything because a few coddled journalists get slapped around and threatened, or because several acceptable people expressed views that are mildly unacceptable to the people in charge. If anything happens, it will be repositioning followed by spin, and not a revolt or revoltion from the top.

    I also doubt that the average protestor in Egypt is any more informed about the future of his country was than his counterpart in America 40 years ago. How many Americans of the counter-culture would have guessed that they would be given neocons to handle foreign affairs and phoney egaliarian anti-Americans to handle domestic issues? Hopefully, Egyptians will get something better for their efforts.

    BTW, I was hoping to see blood and broken teeth, but Anderson Cooper looked like nothing happened. Are these people really that easily scared?

    • Avi
      February 7, 2011, 5:08 pm

      Well, for the most part, people outside the United States are usually far more informed and more politically savvy than many Americans. And that was true twenty years ago and it’s certainly true today. I suppose it’s a combination of a national sense of exceptionalism and a corporate media that is supportive of the Establishment.

      For example, people in the Middle East talk politics and exchange news and views on a regular basis. They are constantly attuned to what is going on in the world. However, in the US, politics and religion remain taboo subjects that are not to be discussed in public or in polite company. That’s why many end up talking about celebrities, sports or the weather, all mind-numbing and inconsequential subjects if you ask me.

      • MRW
        February 7, 2011, 6:02 pm

        Sooo true, Avi. What Americans don’t understand and have no way of understanding is just how much foreigners know not only about their own politics but about US politics. The average American is an idiot by comparison, a political illiterate.

        I also doubt that the average protestor in Egypt is any more informed about the future of his country was than his counterpart in America 40 years ago.

        Your doubts are misplaced. I’m betting on the Egyptians in that equation. My brother-in-law and sister heard nothing but politics discussed in Egypt (bars, cafes) on their recent trip, when they heard conversations in English. It surprised them.

        How many Americans of the counter-culture would have guessed that they would be given neocons to handle foreign affairs and phoney egaliarian anti-Americans to handle domestic issues?

        Wrong question. Should be: who would have thought the American counter-culture would abdicate its judgment as completely as it did?

      • Todd
        February 7, 2011, 11:12 pm

        MRW, I don’t think the average Egyptian knows what the future holds any more than the average 60s era American protestor did. I wasn’t around at the time, but I assume that the average 60s activist talked quite a bit of politics, since many are still yammering on 50 years later. I still doubt that many got what they expected, even though the counter-culture thoroughly routed the Establishment. I doubt that Egyptians are any better at telling the future than any other people.

        Do you believe that the leaders of the counter-culture were beyond cynicism? They definitely weren’t above using violence. I’d guess that quite a few wolves were among the masses of lambs.

      • Citizen
        February 8, 2011, 6:15 am

        The best known off-campus violent episode involving the New Left occurred in Chicago at the 1968 Democratic National Convention when police brutally confronted antiwar demonstrators from the Youth International Party ( Yippies) and the National Mobilization Against the War in Vietnam organization. I was there at the time, literally right in the middle of it all. Every day I drove from my rented basement room in South Chicago, parked my raggedy 1959 VW bug near Grant Park, and ran the Pig gauntlet (they thought I was a hippy) to my university classes in the Loop; upon entering, I would be spit at by fellow students (who thought I was a fascist because I wore my old US army fatigue jacket devoid of SDS or peace symbols, earned with 3 teenage years of my life and the only jacket I owned).
        Hippies. Like the members of the New Left, the Hippies were mostly middle-class whites but without the political drive. There were none, for example, in South Chicago, where I had worked nights in the steel mills to save college tuition money.

        Our old gray-haired congressional leaders during the Shrub years and even now in the Obama years are mostly exclusively people who had (often succcessive) draft deferments or undraftable NG status during that era. Clinton and Shrub too. Our government has been run for many years by people who never really had any actual skin in the game; the volunteer military simply increased this likelyhood to the max.

        Other factors in the counterculture won; they ARE part of the multicultural Establishment of today, e.g., blacks, minorities generally (except Arab Americans), female rights, gay rights.

        To answer your question, MRW, I would have thought the counter-culture would abdicate its romantic, naive, selectively idealistic and self-centered superficial judgment as completely as it did. (Confession: During the 1968 DNC in Chicago and the events there at the time, I was reading Doiestoyevski’s The Devils (The Possessed) depicting the thought processing of radical young nihilists in 19th Century Russia who also had the slogan, “Don’t trust anyone over age 30.” The class was taught by an old Jewish lawyer from Kiev, who had lived though the Bolshivek Revolution. The subject for our Doietoyevski class term paper was The Negators in Doiestoyevski’s work. He meant only those radical young intellectuals in The Devils. I thought he meant in ALL of that writer’s work. And I didn’t catch him saying keep it limited to six pages, so I wrote 70 pages, covering everything in any character that was essentially negative, from Poor Folk, through The Underground Man , The Idiot, to The Brothers Karamazov. He was not pleased.)

      • Todd
        February 7, 2011, 10:59 pm

        Avi, I don’t agree that Americans are less informed politically than most other people. I’ve probably never circulated among elites, but I have traveled a fair amount, and have come in contact with people from nearly every part of the globe, and I’ve heard more than my fair share of low-brow screeds, silly Marxist musings and complete apathy from non-Americans. If Americans are dumber and more apathetic than most, it isn’t by much.

        You are right that among polite Americans it is taboo to talk religion or politics in social situations. But I don’t think that Americans have the market cornered when it comes to talking about sports, the weather or celebs. I’d also say that following the lives and schemings of our politicians is largely inconsequential. Few Americans have a high opinion of our politicians, and it is obvious that the system is corrupt. What’s to talk about?

        Either way, my point is that I don’t believe that the average Egyptian protestor is any more informed about the future of his country than was the average U.S. protestor of the 1960s, and may also end up with something that he didn’t expect.

      • Citizen
        February 8, 2011, 6:26 am

        I agree with you Todd. And it cuts across generations. My son agrees with you too.

  10. Les
    February 7, 2011, 7:09 pm

    Be careful what you wish for.

    This unsettling time for Israel/US relations as Egypt removes itself from the the equation, provides an ideal moment for Obama to throw a long sought bone to the Israel Lobby — How about a pardon for Jonathan Pollard? Who would notice?

    “Former American VP calls on Obama to shorten Pollard’s life sentence

    Dan Quayle is the most senior former administration official to support calls to grant clemency to the convicted Israeli spy.”

    link to

    • Citizen
      February 8, 2011, 6:30 am

      That it is Don Quayle who supports freeing Pollard says everything about what’s wrong with the USA. Makes me ashamed of being white, and a goy.

  11. yourstruly
    February 7, 2011, 10:06 pm

    don’t egyptian revolutionaries know that they can’t count on support from empire?

    not if their plan is to create a real (rather than a make-believe) democracy, one that is free and independent

    what empire wants is a government that’s subservient to its (empire’s) interests

    israel uber palestine, for example

    has there ever been any doubt about this?

    as for the egyptian army siding with the revolution

    think indonesia and thailand. Each has had more than one mass uprising over the past few decades, all of which (sooner, rather than later) were more or less extinguished by the military

  12. Richard Witty
    February 8, 2011, 10:13 am

    This was the first occassion in modern history in which Arab dissent was seen closely and over an extended period.

    In this instance, seeing was believing. People saw that Egyptians were self-organizing, sober, determined without careless polemic, willing to disagree among themselves, responsible.

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