Not that there were any corrections, retractions or apologies, but six months ago, the national news media, in what seemed to be a don’t-want-to-be-the-last exercise, began to report the most hopeful, fantastic and impossible story:
The street demonstrations in Cairo were spreading throughout the Islamic-Arab Middle East, a surge toward Western-style Democracy was overflowing throughout the Arab world! Rejoice! Rejoice!
Of course, aside from a few women seen celebrating in Western-style clothing -- women who would soon disappear, replaced by men and women in fundamental Islamic garb -- there was no real evidence of a pro-democracy revolution.
Still, this fantastic story continued to be reported, from CNN to NBC, ABC to CBS, and the BBC to FNC.
That the mere concept of democracy had escaped the Arab-Muslim world for centuries -- as late as World Wars I and II, the region’s rulers made deals with the forces of Fascism -- and that all previous uprisings had led to one totalitarian regime replaced with another, just didn’t seem to matter.
Not even the fact that CBS’s “60 Minutes” correspondent Lara Logan was sexually assaulted by a gang during one of those “pro-democracy” demonstrations in Cairo -- according to Logan, someone in the mob shouted, “Jew!” and the attack was on -- prevented national TV networks from holding tightly to their original story: The Arabic Middle East is in enlightened revolt, as if the statesmanship of Ben Franklin, the writings of Thomas Paine, the leadership of George Washington and the wisdom of Abe Lincoln had grabbed on, and was holding on. The premise of the Logan assault was ignored, as if it were an aberration; the Jihadists are on the run!
Six months later, these same reporters, analysts and thought-shapers have awakened to what was always clear and present, to what was never going to happen no matter their wishful thinking and stubborn resolve to find something that didn’t exist. Throughout the Muslim Middle East, foreign embassies of democratic countries are being attacked and trashed. The Christian minorities in the region, mostly Coptic Egyptians, are at an even greater risk of being eliminated and annihilated, as is Israel, a country that has the audacity to believe that it can continue to survive and even thrive in the region, not so much as a Jewish state, but as a non-Muslim state.
The “pro-democracy revolution” in Egypt has only thrown the country from idle into reverse. Political and social issues are now a matter for parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood to decide. And to be a non-devout Muslim, or to advocate mere tolerance for those who are not, is to brand yourself an “infidel,” punishable by death, perhaps by stoning.
In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the greatest threat to the despotic powers of President and nuclear nut loaf Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not from pro-democracy activists, but from Islamic fundamentalists, anti-democracy hate-mongers convinced that Ahmadinejad is too soft to meet with Allah’s approval. They fought Ahmadinejad’s order to release those young American hikers, imprisoned as spies.
But, gee, it sure was a good story while it lasted. And it lasted for six months. Stay tuned for the next pro-democracy upheaval in the Middle East. It’ll be the first one.