Conservatives are divided over how to view the situation in Egypt. Some have taken the more prudent stance that the U.S. needs to help steer a strong transitional government in Egypt until democracy can be ensured. Others have taken an optimistic position closer to President Bush’s second inaugural address, arguing that the U.S. has a responsibility to support and encourage the will of the Egyptian people as it currently stands.
But as Americans grapple with these ideas, there’s one thing that is especially unhelpful to the discussion — and that’s the distribution of blatant misinformation. Glenn Beck, instead of taking a hard, sober look at a situation that will have major ramifications for the U.S., has been using his high-profile FOX and radio shows to, in fact, misinform. The new theory Beck appears to be pushing is that the Egyptian revolt is being controlled by an alliance between leftist American organizations and Islamists.
Like most misguided ideas, this theory is based in some truth. Leftist groups like ANSWER and Code Pink have inserted themselves into the Egyptian uprising, and there are indications that they’ve been reaching out to Islamist organizations. But so what? Many leftist groups are anti-American. Islamist groups are anti-American. That they’ve reached out to each other is not a particularly surprising, or significant, development.
The danger of Beck’s theorizing is that he’s spreading the misconception that the uprising in Egypt was initiated by anti-democratic groups, and that it’s Islamist at its core. While there’s no doubt that the Muslim Brotherhood and socialist organizations have become involved in the protests, they didn’t start the uprising, and that’s not what the protests are about.
Yes, there are many reasons to be concerned about Islamist groups, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, gaining control in Egypt. But there are also many reasons to be hopeful for democracy. It’s difficult enough to calculate the best course for Egypt based on the known facts. Throwing unknown, or inaccurate, “facts” into the mix doesn’t serve anyone’s interests.