I’ve been somewhat puzzled by the gleeful reaction to Hillary Clinton’s motorcade being pelted with shoes and tomatoes in Egypt. Is anti-Americanism a good thing now? I always hated it when the Left would get smug about anti-Bush protests. Clinton has been — and I hate to say this — a decent Secretary of State. She’s worked her ass off, done nothing to undermine the President and managed to smooth over their innumerable fuck-ups. That we are not at war with anyone after three years of these guys is remarkable and I think Clinton deserves the lion’s share of credit.
But yesterday, the New York Times dug into the story. Apparently, the protests were ignited because the Egyptians think we supported the Islamic Brotherhood in taking over Egypt. (My own opinion? The opposition failed to unite, leaving the Brotherhood as the only coherent political force. You’ll see similar patterns from history in the rise of bad regimes.)
But here’s the more incendiary allegation, one that’s been picked up by every Left Wing blog in existence:
Pressed by American reporters to explain where they got the idea that their new Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, had been foisted on them through a U.S. plot, rather than the will of the majority, several Egyptians cited information gathered from American blogs or news sites.
An Egyptian-American Christian who met Mrs. Clinton on Sunday cited recent claims by Representative Michele Bachmann, a Republican, “that the Obama Administration is pursuing a closeted pro-Muslim agenda,” in a conversation with Time magazine’s correspondent, Abigail Hauslohner.
In an online conversation on Monday, when Matt Bradley of The Wall Street Journal asked an Egyptian blogger named Sara Ahmed for proof that the Obama administration was “financing” the Muslim Brotherhood, she directed him to a blog post about American aid to Egypt by an ultra-conservative Canadian blogger, Judi McLeod. Ms. McLeod’s post was based on a news story posted on Lucianne.com, a site run by Lucianne Goldberg, an American conservative who played a central role in the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
As Mr. Bradley pointed out to Ms. Ahmed, though, Ms. McLeod had badly garbled the original news report, which simply said that the U.S. had decided to release $1.3 billion in aid to Egypt’s military in April. Ms. McLeod falsely reported that the money had been given instead to a delegation of Muslim Brotherhood leaders who visited Washington around the same time.
Other information came from rabid anti-Islamists like Frank Gaffney.
First things first: it is shameful that this kind of conspiracy mongering has not only been tolerated, but positively embraced by parts of the Right Wing. During the presidential primaries, three non-Romneys directly embraced conspiracy mongering. Bachmann is mentioned above. Cain said he would not hire Muslims or require a loyalty oath. And Gingrich spewed ignorant bullshit about history, religion and property values. Only Paul and Romney specifically rejected it. The GOP has, for far too long, played footsie with anti-Obama conspiracy theorists. And now it’s biting them again.
That having been said, however, this smells like garbage to me. If Egyptian conspiracy mongering is being influenced by American pundits, it is a minor factor. The reality is that the United States is, has been and always will be blamed for the ills of the world. Whenever any country is messed up, its leadership and its people will find a way to blame us. And if they can find support for that blame in the massive and free American media — where every viewpoint is tolerated — that’s a bonus. But these blog posts and statements are being cited as supporting evidence, not the origin. Anti-American conspiracy theories can cook up just fine on their own.
The real problem is that the reality about America’s role in the world is colliding with Obama hero worship. The Left insisted for years that it was only Bush’s incompetence which caused us to be hated. And once we had the Enlightened One, all that would change. I remember Sullivan saying that the simple fact that Obama’s middle name was Hussein was going to help. These hopes for Obama’s foreign policy were always delusional. And now that they have been dashed on the rocks of reality, the media is determined to sustain their messianic delusions by blaming the Right Wing for Obama’s failures. It’s pathetic, really.
(I mean … seriously? You guys have a Nobel Prize winner in office, Hillary as Secretary of State, a new vision for relations and you can’t overcome the rantings of a few bloggers?! What kind of crybaby bullshit is this?)
Finally … and I hate to keep going back to this point, but it keeps being relevant … where were these guys, oh, four to eight years ago? Where they worried that “no blood for oil!” would undermine Bush’s legitimacy? When entire wars were blamed on Haliburton’s lust for profits, did they wring their hands over how this would affect the Arab street? What about 9/11 conspiracy theories being promoted by members of Congress?
This is why I tire of politics. Everything is fine when our side does it but vile when the other side does. Everything is the other side’s fault, never our own. They behave like beasts who hate America; we behave like angels who rescue kittens.
Conspiracy mongering is a vile and disgusting practice. “Reporting” sensational stories without fact-checking is deliberate idiocy. But that’s true no matter who does it. It’s wrong whether it’s Michael Moore or Pamela Geller.
But none of this has anything to do with why we are blamed for the ills of the world. When things go wrong, we will get blamed. When we act, we will get blamed. When we don’t act, we will get blamed. And, in the end, people will invent facts out of whole cloth to blame us. That’s been true long before Michele Bachmann and Glenn Beck.