Now here’s a pretty dilemma to keep all those who think themselves on the side of the angels happy: a military coup has taken place in Egypt which has removed a democratically elected president, but not only has it not been condemned by assorted liberals and those who dress to the left, it has even been welcomed as a Good Thing. So is it Long Live Military Coups after many, many years of hissing and booing whenever some swarthy general or other seized power ‘to preserve’ stability? I rather doubt it, actually, but over at the Guardian here in Britain – and on papers of a similar persuasion in other countries – there is quite a lot of confusion.
Today the get-out clause has been – that is the means by which various folk have been bending over backwards and arguing that, you know, in special circumstances, and purely as an exceptional case, you understand, I mean that is important and it is imperative that this is not regarded as setting a precedent, black can, on occasion be white – that President Morsi, for that is he, was not governing on behalf of everyone, that he had not – despite only being in power for a year – improved the economy and that generally he was not the kind of chap good Guardian readers in the more affluent suburbs of Cairo would have in for a G&T and nibbles.
There is, unfortunately, no suggestion that he has been getting heavy-handed and that his secret police have been banging on doors in the middle of the night and carting off those inimical to the regime. That’s a shame as that would have made the coup just a little easier to justify. In fact, apart from being quite open that he would like slowly to develop Egypt into more of a Muslim state Morsi doesn’t seem to have done much wrong. Well, there was something unacceptable about him: he wasn’t to the taste of the urban liberal elite of Cairo and other cities.
It is important to remember that Morsi was voted in by a majority and that there were not suggestions, at the time or since, that his election was in any way tainted. The word is now – after all the coup must somehow be justified, especially as it is being supported by that urban liberal elite – that many who voted for him only did so because the other choice was a former prime minister under former president Murbarak and that Morsi, as the acceptable face of the Muslim Brotherhood, was the better bet. So that’s OK then, is it. I must admit that I can understand that point of view and that aspect of the dilemma, but it is hugely and utterly irrelevant.
The thing to do – as Morsi’s supporters have been pointing out these past few days – is to do what folk in other democratic countries do: what until the next elections and demonstrate your disapproval with your vote. Why should Egypt and Egypt’s urban liberal elite be any different.
As far as I am concerned one indication of how phoney it all is – that in an honest world black is never white – is that a great deal has been made by those of that urban liberal elite that ‘there were loads of woman of all ages among the protesters’. This was a rather sly way of suggesting that of course Morsi’s supporters were wrong ‘uns because in some ill-defined way they were against women.
In fact, one particularly inane comment from a Guardian reader in its comment section was that ‘Morsi supported and encouraged female genital mutilation’. Well, all I can say is that wasn’t the Morsi championed by the urban liberal elite both in Egypt and over here when he was standing as an alternative candidate to the former prime minister. That claim is rather more recent.
The radio news have been full of discussion as to whether this was a coup or not. Some argue that it wasn’t, that it can’t be, because it is just the previous revolution of two years ago being concluded. And, in a sense, that is true, but it still doesn’t not make it a coup. I know too little about the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi to judge whether he ‘would have been good for Egypt’ or not, but I do know from what I have heard on the media that he was and is very far from the kind of dictator Assad in Syria or Gaddafi in Libya was.
At the end of the day it is just another demonstration of the fact that when push comes to shove principles aren’t worth really worth a dime: we can drone on about them until we’re blue in the face but in essence they are merely something the leisured West talks about when they are not debating ‘the human condition’. I, for one, am not going to pretend that black is white just because it suits those ‘on the side of the angels’.