Sunday, March 29, 2009

Al-Ahram article blames Arab troubles on "demagoguery and totalitarianism"

The article even cites Holocaust-denial as an example. This is a refreshing change:
[...] In the cases of Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine, the process of militarisation permeates society from the political elites through the primary sectarian and ethnic bonds, with which it has become so interwoven as to create states within states, like cancerous cells poised to consume the whole. Can one credibly speak of a public sphere with a growing faith in human rights and an increasing willingness to embrace a culture of mutual acceptance and democracy at a time when political reality in the Arab world is best encapsulated in the image of the gun or the noose? The concept of citizenship has been voided of all true substance and the word has become the clich├ęd common currency of authoritarian elites and religious and sectarian cliques that have no esteem whatsoever for the humanity of the individual and the right to life. Can one really generalise about Arab culture's growing openness to democracy under such circumstances? [...]

The demagogic outlook has little patience for political and social subtleties, and it will readily sweep them aside in the name of ideological formulations, whether secular or religious. For example, following the wave of electoral victories of religious parties and forces many Arab leftists, Arab nationalists and even liberals shrugged off the phenomenon. With no small degree of oversimplification, they chalked it up variously to "a false mass consciousness", a transitory phase, or evidence of the political apathy of the "secular majority" which left the field open to well-mobilised Islamist forces. The anti-democratic demagogic bent here resides in the readiness to divorce facts from their social substance and bend them to ideas that suit the convictions of the speaker. The demagogic approach to history is evidenced in the crude handling of the Jewish Holocaust in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. The ongoing denial on the part of Arab intellectuals and opinion makers with religious leanings of the universally recognised and thoroughly documented horrific acts of genocide and crimes against humanity is a revolting example of a totalitarian interpretation of past events that flies in the face of the spirit of human rights. Indeed, we continue to see the same anti-humanitarian demagoguery in much of the discussion revolving around the crimes against humanity perpetrated in Darfur. [...]
Read the rest, as they say.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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