Comedian | Professor | Writer
(& Smartest) Arab
Breaking News: Arabs are not that crazy about America. Yes, you helped get rid of some of their dictators. But you still unconditionally support some of the worst. So this is the democracy you’re going to get.
Try to imagine how it feels for an Arab to see the American-backed king-dictators of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, & Jordan cry for democracy in Syria. Right message, wrong messenger. Kings and queens are for children and fairy tales. They’re not for grownups. As long as you categorically back and sustain Arab monarchs, this is the democracy you’re going to get.
You ask for democratic partners in the Arab world. Well, here they are. New Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi might not be the model Arab leader in American terms, but he was democratically elected. He might not even be the best answer for the Egyptian people, but he got there fair and square. Sometimes, the smartest and most rational guy doesn’t win the election. No society is immune from that. I seem to remember a guy named George W Bush winning here… twice!
In the wake of the silly film everyone is talking about, Egyptians took to the streets, albeit not in huge numbers. And Morsi did what a democratically elected president has to do. He responded to the outrage of his people. Surely, we Americans wish he could have done more in ensuring the security of our diplomatic buildings there. But he echoed the indignation of his constituents, denouncing the film and criticizing American policy in the region.
By the way, the more I watch the video, the more insulted I get. But I’m not insulted because it denigrates Islam and Arabs. That happens everyday on the news. I’m used to that. I’m insulted because it looks like they made the movie in someone’s garage on an iPhone. I thought we were worth more than that. I’m insulted that they put so little energy into insulting us. CNN and Fox have whole office buildings dedicated to it.
Many commentators have responded to recent events in the Arab World by saying things like, “Democracy takes time.” That is definitely true. But too many people here in America seem to think a truly democratic Arab World will automatically mean a pro-American Arab World. Everyday Arabs now feel secure letting their voices be heard. The fear is gone. Well, not everywhere. Where leaders are still fully American-sponsored, we haven’t heard a peep.
Aren’t things much better when the leaders are just a bunch of gangsters on our payroll?
Arabs, like anyone else, love freedom and democracy. They’ve been leaving their homelands for decades to taste it. There’s millions of Arabs living right here in America. You think they came here for the Kardashian sisters? OK, some did, but mostly it was for the freedom and democracy.
What the US must understand is that Arabs, with a true democratic voice, will not be extending America any credit, at least until some things change. As long as America values oil over freedom, this is the democracy you’re going to get. As long as dynastic Arab kings are on the president’s speed dial, this is the democracy you’re going to get. And as long as Israel’s military gets more money from American taxpayers than it gets from its own, this is the democracy you’re going to get.
Being supportive of democracy in the Arab World is like being pregnant. You either are or you aren’t. There is no middle ground. We Americans cannot choose where to support democracy and where to support dictatorships, at least not if we ever want Arabs to view us with any integrity.
In all the madness, one thing has become clear. A democratic Arab World might share our American values, but it might not share our American conclusions.