As Lisa Rab reported Monday, Rep. Allen West, of Florida's 22nd district, loves freedom. He doesn't love Muslims, but he does understand that they too may aspire to autonomy. "When you have these regimes that are autocratic, theocratic, dictatorial," West explained, "they do tend to oppress the people, as far as their freedoms and liberties. And there will come a point when the human wants to have those liberties."
West, speaking to Fox News' Mike Huckabee, was referring to the pro-democracy protesters in Tunisia and Egypt. In the former country, two months of populist demonstrations have caused President Ben Ali to flee his home with a ton and a half of state gold and in the former have led President Hosni Mubarak to announce the imminent end of his 30-year reign. When Huckabee raised the specter of the Muslim Brotherhood, the extremist group even now trying to lay claim to the dictators' ouster, West retreated. "Sometimes it does require a stronger hand to keep those radical elements at bay," he said. This sounded uncomfortably like an endorsement of Mubarak's notoriously rigged elections, in which he recently claimed nearly 90 percent of the votes of the population he'd led to economic and cultural ruin. Alas, given West's previous ejaculations on the subject of the Muslim world, such sentiments are hardly surprising.
What is surprising is that West -- presumably by accident -- has, by even cautiously granting moral sanction to Egyptian or Tunisian freedom, run the risk of severely pissing off the Jewish religious extremists among his own constituency. In a Reuters story featured on the Drudge Report on Monday, much of Israel is in an uproar over Barack Obama's expressed sympathy for the protesters, especially those of Egypt, even though Obama's effusions have been tepid at best. "America's word is worthless [...] America has had it," quoth Ari Shavit, in Haaretz. He meant, presumably, that we should have supported our frequent ally, Hosni Mubarak, no matter his relationship to "his" people.
All of the article's quoted sources are similarly hyperbolic, and so we must assume that Allen West spoke before he gauged Israel's political weather. Yes, Mubarak has acknowledged Israel's right to exist and has worked to create equitable solutions to the Palestinian crisis. Even so, who would have thought Israeli news outlets would openly endorse his continued political oppression of the Egyptian people? Not West, obviously.
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Bear in mind: This is a man who has not only claimed that there oughtn't be a two-state solution in Palestine; he has said there shouldn't even be any Muslims in Palestine. Because, you see, Jehovah laid out Israel's borders in the Bible and didn't mention any Mohammedan reservations along the Gaza Strip. This really is his argument. Which is why his political career thus far has attracted uncommon allegiance from those inclined to take such arguments seriously -- i.e., grandiose mediocrities who believe they are on a first-name basis with the creator of the universe and who therefore believe themselves sufficiently wise to run the lives of all kinds of reprehensible people, from the queers and the atheists to those Islamists who'd to hang them. This is the milieu whence West's political career has sprung; these are the people who elected him. How long do you suppose it will take Rep. West to change tack and condemn the newly enfranchised democrats of Egypt as a front group for the dread Ishmaelian mafia? I give it till dusk.
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