Jonathan Chait

Right-Wing Paranoia And Egypt

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The right's reaction to the demonstrations in Egypt has been fascinating to watch. It's certainly true that history is replete with examples of liberal revolutions that proceeded to take a decidedly illiberal turn. Even those of us thrilling at the sight of the peaceful, universalistic, cross-secular march in Egypt can fear about the potential for a well-organized Islamist minority to seize control of the government after Mubarak falls. (Rich Lowry and Jonah Goldberg have sensible columns emphasizing opposite points, the former focusing on the potential for failure, and the latter the potential for progress.) But what's fascinating is the emergence of a strain of paranoid anti-Islamism that lumps together Iran, Mohammed ElBaradei, and the Obama administration. Here is Hudson Institute fellow Anne Bayefsky writing for Fox News:

In the name of democratic reform, Mohammed El Baradei is doing his best to appear as the annointed one to succeed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek, should the government fall. In reality, El Baradei has more in common with Iranian demagogue Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than anything remotely resembling democracy. He is the former Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), where his primary legacy was running interference for Iran and ensuring that Iran is now on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons. ...

If ElBaradei were ever to become president of Egypt, not only would he have helped Iran acquire nuclear weapons, he would undoubtedly turn around and lead the charge for an Egyptian nuclear weapon.

And here's a Glenn Beck rant along similar lines:

What immediately grabs you is Beck's comical technique of drawing a flame on various countries on the map, then declaring those countries to be "on fire," and then assuming that any other geographically contiguous country will likewise catch fire. (Thank goodness we have the Bering Straight to douse the flames before they leap over to Alaska.) But perhaps more telling is Beck's reference to the peaceful demonstrators as "rioters," and his dark warnings about their motives and "progressivist" impulses. Beck is not expressing a fear that a moderate, internationalist technocrat like El Baradei will be shoved aside. He is afraid precisely that he'll gain power.

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