The New York Times, David Kirkpatrick on the Situation in Cairo
From yesterday's Hugh Hewitt Radio Show:
HH: Earlier today, I read Elbaradei had announced that this was the end of any possible legitimacy for the Morsi government as violence had been taken up by the Islamists. Is that a widely shared point of view? Or is that simple Elbaradei?
DK: That view is widely shared among the secular protestors here. You know, this is a very complicated situation politically, and an instance where each side has got a valid point. You know the old joke just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after me? You know, the Brotherhood has bought into some scary conspiracy theories, that the secular political forces are, would rather sacrifice democracy than to see them win, will obstruct the new constitution at all cost, and that elements of the old government, including the still-operating Mubarak-appointed courts, are out to get them. And they’re not wrong, to be honest. I mean, there are so-called liberals here who would rather sacrifice democracy than to see the Islamists win, and there are Mubarak loyalists on the courts that are determined to sabotage the political process. At the same time, the Islamists in the face of this have used these conspiracy theories to justify basically trying to strong arm through a very flawed constitution. And so the other side says you know, wait a second, you’re just telling us that might makes right, that because you at the moment control the state, because you’re more popular, more politically powerful, you could just muscle this thing through. You’re going to suspend democracy for the moment in order to establish, you say, democracy in the long term. Now obviously, that is problematic to any of your Western listeners. You know, we sort of, we know how that ends.
HH: Now Andrew McCarthy, writing at National Review, has tried to channel the secularists by saying they know what the Brotherhood’s agenda is, they understand where they’re going, even if they haven’t gone there yet. How legitimate in your view, David Kirkpatrick, is McCarthy’s concern that the Brotherhood is, as described in Lawrence Wright’s book The Looming Tower, they have an agenda and they will move about it?
DK: I don’t think it’s, I think it’s misplaced. You know, there are Islamists here who are known as Salafis. They’re literalists, they favor a return to a kind of almost medieval, Islamic law. They’re a minority. The Brotherhood, they’re politicians. They are not violent by nature, and they have over the last couple of decades evolved more and more into a moderate, conservative but religious, but moderate, regular old political force. I find that a lot of the liberal fears of the Brotherhood are somewhat outside. That said, you know, you don’t know what their ultimate vision of what the good life looks like. But in the short term, I think they just want to win elections.
HH: Now the Copts, I have a good friend who’s a Copt. He’s a doctor who takes care of me, and he has family in Egypt, an extended family. They’re very worried that there will be no place for them in Egypt, and that they will be forced out or brutalized. What do you make of the Copts’ concern, especially given the number of incidents over the past few years of violence against them?
DK: Well, you are right. The Copts are freaking out for sure. Other Christians here tell me that they think the Copts, they’re panic is excessive, but it comes out of a long history of sectarian conflict. As I said, the Muslim Brotherhood are politicians. Last Christmas, they deployed their youth to stand in circles protecting churches around the country in a gesture of good faith. And they’ve done things like that repeatedly, because you know, about 10% of the country is Christian, and they would like those votes, too. They are not, they’re not explicitly at, they say they stand for non-sectarian citizenship. That said, I can’t say that the Copts fears are entirely groundless, because there are, there is a lot of hostility on both sides of that line here.
HH: Last question, David Kirkpatrick, and thanks for staying up late and I know you’re on deadline. Do you expect it to get worse before it gets better in terms of street violence?
DK: I am not going to make any predictions, but I do think that the events of tonight are going to pose a very big challenge to President Morsi and his hopes of rushing through this constitution with a referendum on December 15th. Three of his advisors have quit today, and I think he’s going to face a lot of pressure to try to go slow, or hold some more kind of dialogue.
MEANWHILE, THERE'S THIS: