Egypt is churning.
It isn't burning, though, despite Glenn Beck's attempt to hype instances of looting into nationwide chaos. For Beck, the Egyptian protests aren't about democracy. They're not about denouncing a decades-long military dictatorship. They're not about people demanding a better response to food inflation than increased distribution of ration cards and a ban on rice exports, especially after a year that saw Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's administration discard almost half of his country's wheat supply because of insect infestation. No, none of that matters.
It's the Marxists, stupid. Isn't it always?
A coalition of the blood-spilling has formed, says Beck, that includes the Muslim Brotherhood, Marx-quoting communists, American labor unions, Code Pink and community organizers around the world, all pursuing a singular goal: Recreating an Islamic caliphate. The logic is flawless. You see, labor unions—for example, the American Federation of Government Employees, which stands to reap dividends under new rules permitting Transportation Security Administration employees to unionize—use dues paid by their members to support leftist counterparts in the international arena, particularly in nations where capitalism is besieged by angry mobs, like Greece. Mubarak has been an ardent American ally, therefore Mubarak is a friend of capitalism. After all, Egypt is home to the Suez canal, one of the world's most strategic trade passages. Furthermore, labor unions are supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, whose anti-American leaders are, in turn, organizing demonstrations, unsettling the status quo. If Mubarak steps down, these leaders will step in to fill the power void, ushering their vision of Islamic dominion and Crusades 2.0 onto the world stage.
Makes sense, right?
Not a bit. As noted by numerous reports from inside Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood participated little in the early days of the uprising, when protests were organized by human rights activists. Since then, however, the group's role has been escalating, causing the newly minted Egyptian vice president, Omar Suleiman, to include Brotherhood leaders in talks with opposition forces, upending a 30-year prohibition on what has become the largest political organization in the land of the pharaohs. But recognition of the Brotherhood does not signal an Islamic takeover of Egypt, Iranian Revolution redux or a renunciation of the Camp David Accords, much to Beck's chagrin. Instead, it signals an evolution of the order from a purist religious sect into a mainstream political party. While the Brotherhood has espoused a desire to base statecraft on the Quran and Sunnah, it has also condemned terrorism, including the attacks of September 11, 2001. Moreover, the group has successfully translated Islamic principles into popular parliamentary politics, winning 88 seats in Egypt's 2005 elections. Beck, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity may decry, ad nauseum, the group's alleged ties to terrorism. Clearly, they're unfamiliar with the various splinter groups—Al Gama'a al-Islamiyaa and Al Takfir Wal Hijra, to name a couple—that cite the Brotherhood's insistence on nonviolence as their reason for departure.
So, the Muslim Brotherhood is analogous to the Christian Coalition, in electoral terms. Still, Egyptian protesters were inspired by Tunisian protesters, and other Muslim nations are taking steps to prevent their own people from taking to the streets. Could this be the beginning of a pan-Islamic revolution that allows so-called "extremists" to take control? Highly doubtful. Such a claim is myopic, even on its surface. Does Beck really think that the governments of, say, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Yemen are going to cede state sovereignty to a supreme caliph, the foretold Mahdi? Maybe if the supreme leaders of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Yemen are proclaimed to be the Mahdi, respective to each country's citizenry. Personally, I have a difficult time believing the house of Saud is going to submit to Yemeni clout. Then again, I went to college. Thus, according to Beck, I can't see the connections he perceives.
Oh, don't get me started on the labor union's place in Beck's delusions. No offense to shady Glenn, but union bosses are too busy protecting their members' receding pensions, right now, to craft an Islamic empire. And no, emails of support between union heads in the United States and their counterparts in the Middle East do not constitute anti-democratic collusion.
Here's something Beck and company won't tell you about the Muslim Brotherhood: Its founder, Hassan al-Banna, stated that Islam compels man to strive for social justice (another of Beck's buzzwords), the eradication of poverty and corruption (Mubarak, perhaps?) and political freedom. Such beliefs led the Brotherhood to develop into an anticolonial movement during the first half of the 20th century, fighting British imperialists for an Egyptian independence that was eventually won, in the early 1950s. Though collaborations between the Brotherhood and Nazis were extant in the years before World War II, the link was primarily driven by anti-British, rather than antisemitic, sentiments. As for the Brotherhood's description of Western declension and a caliphate stretching from Spain to Indonesia, those ambitions remain in the abstract, in the way that conservative evangelical groups dream of bringing all nations under the jurisdiction of Jesus.
More specifically, a Jesus that can kick Muhammad's ass all over a football field, with corporate executives paying over $1 million for promotional rights. If that's the symbol of American power, what's not to hate?