A pathetic, obsequious act on the part of an establishment press member was exposed as utterly foolish mere days after its appearance.
On Wednesday (for Thursday’s print edition), New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote glowingly of “Joining a Dinner in a Muslim Brotherhood Home.” He swallowed a lot more than food while he was there, as the following excerpts indicate (bolds are mine throughout this post):
… let me tell you about my dinner in the home of Muslim Brotherhood activists.
First, meet my hostess: Sondos Asem, a 24-year-old woman who is pretty much the opposite of the stereotypical bearded Brotherhood activist. Sondos is a middle-class graduate of the American University in Cairo, where I studied in the early 1980s (“that’s before I was born,” she said wonderingly, making me feel particularly decrepit).
… The Muslim Brotherhood has emerged as the dominant political party in parliamentary voting because of people like Sondos and her family. My interviews with supporters suggest that the Brotherhood is far more complex than the caricature that scares many Americans.
Sondos rails at the Western presumption that the Muslim Brotherhood would oppress women. She notes that her own mother, Manal Abul Hassan, is one of many female Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated candidates running for Parliament.
… “Egyptians are now concerned about economic conditions,” she said. “They want to reform their economic system and to have jobs. They want to eliminate corruption.” Noting that alcohol supports the tourism industry, she added: “I don’t think any upcoming government will focus on banning anything.”
… I told her that I would feel more reassured if some of my liberal Egyptian friends were not so wary of the Brotherhood. Some warn that the Brotherhood may be soothing today but that it has a violent and intolerant streak — and is utterly inexperienced in managing a modern economy.
Sondos looked exasperated. “We embrace moderate Islam,” she said. “We are not the ultra-conservatives that people in the West envision.”
I heard similar reassurances from other Brotherhood figures I interviewed, and I’m not sure what to think. But opinions vary, and I’m struck by the optimism I heard in some secular quarters …
… a bit of nervousness is fine, but let’s not overdo the hand-wringing — or lose perspective. What’s historic in Egypt today is not so much the rise of any one party as the apparent slow emergence of democracy in the heart of the Arab world.
Unbeknownst to extremist apologist Kristof, according to at YNet News (HT Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs), Hamas made mincemeat of the Brotherhood’s claims to have seen the light on moderation well before he broke bread with some of its members:
Hamas joins Global Muslim Brotherhood
… A senior Hamas source told the London-based Arabic-language al-Hayat newspaper on Saturday that the Palestinian organization has joined the global movement of the Muslim Brotherhood.
According to the source, the move took place as early as two months ago. The expression “a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood – Palestine” has been added to Hamas’ official name – “The Islamic Resistance Movement.”
… “Hamas no longer belongs to any organization, but has become completely independent,” he said, adding that the group was now part of the global Muslim Brotherhood organization and was officially represented there.
Despite its official admission into the global organization, the source noted that Hamas would continue carrying the flag of armed resistance.
“We’ll continue to be different due to the presence of the Israeli occupation in Palestine, and the problem will remain as long as there are occupation forces,” he said.
He explained that the movement’s treaty says Hamas is the jihadi wing of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Palestine, and that joining the global organization won’t solve this dilemma.
Don’t expect Kristof to back away from his nonsense any time soon. Past experience indicates that no amount of intervening reality will move him.
In 2005, in response to a groundbreaking book (“Mao: The Unknown Story“) about the Communist death toll in China under Mao Zedong, who died in 1976, he told readers that, really, Mao did some good things:
… I agree that Mao was a catastrophic ruler in many, many respects, and this book captures that side better than anything ever written. But Mao’s legacy is not all bad. Land reform in China, like the land reform in Japan and Taiwan, helped lay the groundwork for prosperity today. The emancipation of women and end of child marriages moved China from one of the worst places in the world to be a girl to one where women have more equality than in, say, Japan or Korea. Indeed, Mao’s entire assault on the old economic and social structure made it easier for China to emerge as the world’s new economic dragon.
… Mao’s ruthlessness was a catastrophe at the time, brilliantly captured in this extraordinary book – and yet there’s more to the story: Mao also helped lay the groundwork for the rebirth and rise of China after five centuries of slumber.
Kristof’s “Hitler did some good things too” excuse-making for Mao is unconscionable. As long as Communist China’s one-child policy exists (a policy the government says “must be permanent,” and has led to “Forty Million Missing Girls“), Kristof’s statement about “the emancipation” of Chinese women will remain a sick joke. And I guess the 70 million deaths attributed to Mao by the authors (which Kristof spends an inordinate amount of time quibbling with) merely represent unfortunate collateral damage–as if there was no other way to shake off the “slumber.”
I was reminded in a visit to Geller’s website, in an item where she notes that Massachusetts Senator John Kerry “welcomes Egypt’s election results,” that the Brotherhood’s motto remains: “God is our objective; the Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations.”
Why didn’t Kristof ask Ms. Sondos about that? How can he or his readers believe that pleasantries shared at one dinner with a gullible American columnist change anything?
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.
BizzyBlog Update: Jonathan S. Tobin at Commentary —
Americans should be good and scared about the most populous Arab country falling under the sway of a violent and extreme movement that is ideologically committed to struggle against the West. They should also worry about the willingness of what remains one of our leading newspapers to print the sort of dishonest journalism Kristof has produced from Egypt.