For aging baby boomers, our memories of Martin Luther King always return to the Lincoln Memorial, the touchstone of American freedom, where King gave his immortal “I Have A Dream” speech. Given under the granite gaze of the Great Emancipator, his words brought to mind Lincoln’s oft-repeated phrase “the better angels of our nature.” They were clearly in attendance that day.
Yet today, we celebrate our civil rights revolution under a shadow, maybe because we’re listening to those other “angels” on opposite shoulders. How ironic that our first black president should have turned out to be just another collectivist politician, always eager to appropriate the symbols of social justice while his heart is far from their spiritual roots. Every day brings new revelations of his duplicity, eagerly chased off the front page by media sycophants. Former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates presents a devastating eyewitness account of this continuing bonfire of the perfidies, only to be pre-empted by banner headlines: “What did Christie know, and when did he know it?” Both houses of Congress present damning new evidence from Benghazi, that simmering 21st-century Watergate. Still, the latest pseudo-expose from The New York Times concludes only that, well, you know these things are all very complex, so no one is really responsible. Stay tuned: The once-proud American media is steadily morphing into the loudmouth boss hogs of the Gadarene swine.
Not wanting to divert us from the cliffs we pursue so relentlessly, last week’s headlines largely overlooked a pregnant development in Egypt, crossroads of two continents and gateway to the Middle East. From Libya clear across to Afghanistan, the crescent of crisis is being reborn before our wondering eyes, the black flags of al Qaeda even flying over Iraqi cities recently liberated by the blood and sacrifice of the Anbar surge.
The only bright spot in this unfolding panoply of disaster has been Egypt, which in 2013 rose against the Muslim Brotherhood and its new pharaoh, Mohammed Morsi. With 30 million Egyptians taking to the streets to demand his ouster, the Egyptian military led by Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sissi concluded that Mr. Morsi’s forced removal was their only alternative to civil war. But Gen. el-Sissi promptly turned power over to an interim civilian government, which immediately set about drafting a new constitution. Just last week, Egyptians rose again, but this time to cast their votes, ratifying their new constitution by overwhelming majorities. I’m betting that you might have missed this, either because of “Bridgegate” or the infotainment fluff customarily dominating the American newsbiz.
Egypt’s revolution is something that George Washington might well have understood, especially the civilian control instinctively sought by its military forces. President Obama, however, did not. Long suspected of harboring closet sympathies for the Muslim Brotherhood, in October Mr. Obama cut off all military aid to Egypt, effectively reversing a strategic partnership and a full generation of American statecraft. Predictably, his media allies view the ongoing Egyptian revolution as a simple military coup. Defending the indefensible, the always helpful New York Times snarled, “The vote came after the military, with popular backing, ousted Mohammed Morsi, the country’s first freely elected president in July, then proceeded to carry out a series of crackdowns . The government has crushed the Muslim Brotherhood’s party, arrested its leaders, seized its assets and criminalized membership. It shut down Egyptian news media sympathetic to the Brotherhood and arrested secular activists … opposing the new charter.”
To offer a reasonable counterpoint, Sebastian Gorka of the Westminster Institute appeared last week on Fox News. “Morsi was removed, but immediately a transitional government of experts, technocrats [was installed].” He also warned that the Muslim Brotherhood is a continuing threat to Egyptian democracy, a well-armed foe of any institution or citizenry not fully sharing its Islamist ideology. “They want to recapture this country and create a theocracy, a caliphate there.”
Mr. Gorka and K.T. McFarland, on whose Fox News show he appeared, were fellow members of a small delegation that visited Egypt last September. We not only spent hours with Gen. el-Sissi and his top generals, but also with Egyptian business leaders and those same street-worn student activists, all of whom helped to overthrow two failed governments. They want to live normal and peaceful lives, not the rigid Islamist fundamentalism of the Muslim Brotherhood.
On my bookcase rests a small wooden plaque given to each of us by Tawadros II, pope of the Coptic Christian Church. It says simply, “Love never fails.” It is a classic biblical teaching, as well as a timely reminder of what can happen when a Christian minority — either Egyptian or American — speaks strongly to those better angels of our nature.
Ken Allard, a retired Army colonel, is a military analyst and author on national-security issues.