It seems that the democratic revolution in Egypt isn’t so democratic now that the Muslim Brotherhood has done so-well in the elections. The Mubarak thugs are back out; the religious neighborhoods are once again targeted for police violence, Mubarak’s security people are at the polling places intimidating people and voters have been randomly arrested before they even get a chance to vote. This is democracy on the Algerian model; that is we will hold elections and if our guys don’t win we will cancel or tamper with them. What is the US saying about the anti-democratic methods of its close friend and ally? I am still waiting. Human rights organizations are already condemning the practices of the Egyptian government in regards to these elections.
New elections are also being held in Chechnya and while the Russian-government and her allies in Chechnya are celebrating the elections as a victory against separatists these elections have about as much credibility as the Egyptian elections. Last night Frances Channel Two had an interesting piece on the elections and of how the real power in Chechnya comes from muscle and the gun. Pro-Russian militia leader Ramzan Kadyrov, the son of the ex-Chechen President (who was assassinated), controls a militia of several-thousand and has a charismatic personality and operates under the slogan “American uniforms, Russian weapons, the religion of Islam, and the culture of Chechnya is unbeatable.”
However, while I think these elections are not serious and Kadyrov is somewhat of a colorful young character, I do think that the way to proceed in Chechnya is through international pressure and the democratic process. The Chechen people have suffered enough from war, and have suffered far more than the Palestinians and Kashmiris, but do not get a tenth of the attention.
The Plot Against America
I know a lot of people do not like Phillip Roth, but I do (when he is not going on and on about sex) and The Plot Against America, which I have just finished, is even better than American Pastoral and the Counter Life two books I also greatly enjoyed. Roth masterfully tells the story of how his childhood in Newark, NJ would have changed if Charles Lindbergh would have been elected President in 1940 over Franklin Delano Roosevelt (the greatest American president of them all in my opinion). Lindbergh, along with Henry Ford, was a Nazi-sympathizer and they were both isolationists who wanted America to stay out of the Second World War, and ran on the platform of keeping America out of war. In the book Lindbergh wins in 1940 and life changes dramatically for the young Roth and his neighbors in their Newark Jewish ghetto. Honestly a lot of what Roth says in the book about how Lindbergh would have negatively impacted the life of Jews is happening today for Muslims under the Bush Administration only under different circumstances. Four main Jewish characters arise from this time of crisis in the community; the idealist who will not compromise with evil, the opportunist who finds a way to cash in and move-up the social ladder under Lindbergh, the selfish and greedy individuals who are only out for the themselves and are oblivious to the plights of others, and the ordinary people who live in fear and silently despise the regime. Lets see; CAIR, Irshad Manji, the brother who owns the liquor store on the corner and your average Muslims just trying to live their lives in this climate of fear.