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View Diary: David Brooks wonders if Egypt has the 'mental ingredients' for democracy (105 comments)

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  •  I'm no fan of Brooks, but this is bullshit (17+ / 0-)

    If you were to quote his column accurately, it would be clear that he was pointing out that it is the ideology that prevents Eqyptian Islamists from governing in a democracy.   The "mental ingredients" he refers to are elements of ideology, such as secularism and ability to compromise, and not, as you choose to interpret him, as referring to mental capacity.

    "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

    by Old Left Good Left on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 01:55:48 PM PDT

    •  yeah what's up with that? snark blog fodder? (3+ / 0-)

      There's another diary doing the same thing. Brooks made good points - stopped clock etc ... - but diarist falls into rhetorical anarchy. I couldn't focus after the ACORN ref but did tune in for the WSJ quote which was a good catch.

      If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

      by jgnyc on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 02:14:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  These are stupid and annoying arguments (7+ / 0-)

        The comment threads of the other diary are filled with people screaming about not insulting the Egyptian people, like ME, and people screaming that the first group of people are CRACKED, that the Muslims are all batshit crazy and that I should go live under a fundamentalist regime if I think they're so great (facepalm)

        Brooks clearly makes derisive comments about the intelligence and mental "capacity" (whatever the fuck THAT is...) of the Egyptian people and just about says they're all a buncha "retards" which, if he had actually said, wouldda had the same buncha people calling for his scalp.

        I'd really love to hear what Egyptian blogger "Sandmonkey" thinks about this....Betcha fifty cents he's pretty insulted!

        "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

        by leftykook on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 09:21:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Isalmists are "retards" and I have to agree (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          orlbucfan, radarlady

          but if only he saw OUR religious extremists in the same light, that would be progress

          •  Religion is a problem.... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gfv6800, merrywidow, Be Skeptical

            Religious fundamentalism is an even bigger problem. Theocracies are a disaster. Separation of church and state is a workable compromise. It's the only way for peace and security to thrive on this planet.


            Glottal fricative and breathy-voiced mid-low central unrounded vowel, repeated, diphthong ending with a high front vowel.

            by glb3 on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 10:36:17 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Best thing I've read (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ssgbryan

          Is from the Egyptian historian Khaled Fahmy:

          http://edition.cnn.com/...

          Brooks doesn't matter much. Islamists lack the conceptual ability to govern, as do fundies of all stripes. But Egyptians are people just like we are, albeit with a difficult legacy from the Ottoman Empire through British colonial control, through the excesses of Arab Nationalist military rule. It's going to take them a while to sort it out, but the idea that Egyptians are either incapable or somehow primitive is false.

          “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

          by ivorybill on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 11:59:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's also insulting (0+ / 0-)

            ...to people we're supposed to be trying to get along with!

            "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

            by leftykook on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 12:24:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for posting Fahmy's editorial (0+ / 0-)

            The crux of the biscuit:

            We did not launch this revolution nor risk our lives only to change the players. We wanted to change the rules of the game. That was the mandate we gave to Morsy. He has failed in this crucial task, so we no longer recognize him as a legitimate leader. He has broken the terms of the mandate. And our revolution continues.

            "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

            by leftykook on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 09:15:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Democracy, the argument goes, (32+ / 0-)

      will eventually calm extremism. Members of the Teabag Patriots may come into office with radical beliefs, but then they have to fix potholes and worry about credit ratings and popular opinion. Governing will make them more moderate.

      However, members of the Teabag Patriots are defined by certain beliefs. They reject pluralism, secular democracy and, to some degree, modernity. When you elect fanatics, you have not advanced democracy. You have empowered people who are going to wind up subverting democracy.

      It has become clear that reactionary Republicans are incapable of running a modern government. Many have absolutist, apocalyptic mind-sets. As Adam Garfinkle, the editor of The American Interest, never said, for this sort of person “there is no need for causality, since that would imply a diminution of God’s power.” This sort of person “does not accept the existence of an objective fact separate from how he feels about it.”

      Teabag Patriots might be determined enough to run effective opposition movements and committed enough to provide street-level social services. But they lack the mental equipment to govern. Once in office, they are always going to undermine the democracy that elevated them.

      Once elected, the teabaggers undermined judicial review, cracked down on civil society, perverted the constitution, and made democratic deliberations impossible.

      It’s no use lamenting Republican bungling because incompetence is built into the intellectual DNA of radical conservatism. We’ve seen that everywhere: real-world, practical ineptitude that leads to the implosion of the governing apparatus.

      It’s not that extremist Teabaggers don't have a recipe for a democratic action. They seem to lack even the basic mental ingredients.

      "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

      by GussieFN on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 02:23:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Except Brooks' 'reasoning' doesn't limit (8+ / 0-)

        itself to a subgroup of the entire Egyptian voting populace - Islamists (or Teabaggers).  

        Brooks silly reasoning goes:
        1. Islamists are incapable of democracy
        2. Some Egyptians are Islamists
        3. Therefore, All Egyptians are incapable of democracy.

        False equivalence --  Some= All  -- is obvious.

        See Brook's concluding sentence:
        "It’s not that Egypt doesn’t have a recipe for a democratic transition. It seems to lack even the basic mental ingredients."  -- says "Egypt" and not "Islamists"

        Classic Brooks nonsense.

        Note:
        I know your example is not saying:
        1. Teabaggers are incapable of democracy
        2. Some US voters are Teabaggers
        3. Therefore, All US voters are incapable of democracy

      •  They're not all stupid (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Aunt Pat, Jay C, BlueInARedState
        It’s no use lamenting Republican bungling because incompetence is built into the intellectual DNA of radical conservatism. We’ve seen that everywhere: real-world, practical ineptitude that leads to the implosion of the governing apparatus.

        It’s not that extremist Teabaggers don't have a recipe for a democratic action. They seem to lack even the basic mental ingredients.

        I don't think that they lack the basic mental ingredients. What they lack is the belief that democracy is a good thing. They lack the belief that freedom of choice and liberty outside of their narrow mindset is a good thing.

        It does not matter whether their central interest is a society based upon their brand of religious fundamentalism, or upon their wish for an oligarchical authoritarianism (with them in charge, of course). The results are the same.

        They openly discuss and display their contempt for the basic premises behind a secular democracy with protections for the beliefs of minorities (or even majorities that disagree with them).

        *Insert Godwin's Law comment here.*

        "When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?"--Eleanor Roosevelt

        by KJC MD on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 09:52:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you, That was exactly what I was reading too (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jay C

        D'ya think that's what Hunter was writing? Or are we reading too much in?

        If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

        by CwV on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 10:03:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I regard that as a minor semantic point, Hunter's (16+ / 0-)

      real point here is that with a minor tweak Brooks might as well be describing the current Republican party and the USofA. It's the utter lack of Brooks' self-awareness that is gob-smacking here. I'm also not sure that you can tie this to a specific ideology - the 45% of Americans who think the Universe was created in the last 10,000 years don't follow the same religion, but the have the same batshit score - and its become a huge problem for us and the planet.

      •  It's his thesis, at least of the first part (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        manraygun, sawgrass727, pollwatcher
        See, Mr. Brooks, here's your problem. That mental ingredients bit, the notion that some group of people you do or don't like lack the mental capacity for self-government, the deep sigh of the White Man's Burden written into yet another column in yet another long, depressing decade.
        That's more than a "minor semantic point."

        "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

        by Old Left Good Left on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 03:44:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  That's also how I read "ingredients" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pollwatcher, hmi, Be Skeptical

      If a recipe fails, you can say the cook lacked the capacity to do it right, or you can say he didn't have the right ingredients on hand.

      Egyptians have systematically been denied the chance to organize for self-government. That's something that requires practice. Look how much trouble we have with it in the US.

      Brooks could well be a much worse person than I realize, but the least strained reading of what he said is that it's ideas and habits that are missing.

      Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

      by Dogs are fuzzy on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 10:14:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Then you're a better writer than Brooks. (6+ / 0-)

      "Mental ingredients", if not a bigoted jab worthy of the British Empire, is what comes out when a well-paid writer is unwilling to proofread his work, or lacks the command of his native language to find the right words.  

      If there were a free market in writing, then David Brooks would be a barista and any of half a hundred baristas within a ten-minute walk of the NYT would be David Brooks.  

      "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

      by Yamaneko2 on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 09:23:36 AM PDT

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    •  Hypocrisy is the only issue w/Brooks article (4+ / 0-)

      I think he makes a lot of good points about paranoid religious zealots making bad leaders. It is true you could swap out occurrences of "Morsi" and replace with "Santorum" or swap out "Muslim Brotherhood" with "Tea Party" and have a pretty fine article as well.

      That doesn't make the article wrong. It just raises questions as to how Brooks can support a party that is in many ways, a watered down version of the Muslim Brotherhood.

      Racism and "objectively true" don't tend to line up.

    •  Are you kidding? (9+ / 0-)

      I just don't see any other way to interpenetrate:

      It’s not that Egypt doesn’t have a recipe for a democratic transition. It seems to lack even the basic mental ingredients.

      Hunter is dead on with this rant. And please explain the difference between radical Islam and tea party Christian because from here they look exactly the same.

      •  Then maybe you should stick to comic books. (0+ / 0-)

        "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

        by Old Left Good Left on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 10:16:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  well (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hmi, Be Skeptical

        TP Christians don't do a lot of killing.  There are differences.  Doesn't make EITHER very attractive humans, but there are differences.

        As for the article, it depends on what he meant.  If he meant capacity, then that's absolutely wrong.  Obviously as fellow humans, they have the same intellectual capacity as the rest of us, and what Brooks said was racist and prejudice.

        If he meant, inclination or mindset, then he is absolutely right.  Humans value different things.  Some value individual freedom most, some value freedom from want most, most usually value both in a relative sliding scale.  Some value religious fervor.  Some value safety and security.

        Some of the latter groups don't do so well with democracy not because they are incapable of it but because it isn't as important to them as it is to others.

        And there's nothing wrong with that per se.  Some could say easily that our version of democracy isn't as strong as others because of some of the things WE value more.

        So, I don't know what he meant exactly, and that meaning would flavor whether I agree with him or not.  Certainly, the Egyptian people as a whole are quite capable of any intellectual feat or ability we are.  Whether they value the same things we value is less certain, and wouldn't be surprising if they did since there are plenty of things we value others don't (good and bad).

        •  Not Yes,... (0+ / 0-)
          TP Christians don't do a lot of killing.
          ...but they are arming themselves, thanks to the NRA. They are throwing words about like "secession", "1st amendment remedies", "kill the abortionists", "take our country back". The degree of hate filled right wing talk that pollutess the airways on a daily basis, combined with religious fervor, will eventually send someone, or some group over the edge to the same kind of violence that dominates the middle east. Then, who will have the "mental ingredients" to pull this country back to democratic principals? Certainly not the vigilantes and their rabble rouses.


          Glottal fricative and breathy-voiced mid-low central unrounded vowel, repeated, diphthong ending with a high front vowel.

          by glb3 on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 11:04:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  glb3's comment notwithstanding, TP types (0+ / 0-)

          do exactly as much killing as they can reasonably get away with, and in the fashion that suits their cultural milieu. the body count is much, much higher than you seem to realize.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 11:23:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  How many people (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          hmi, Chinton

          have the anti-abortion terrorists killed?

          Small varmints, if you will.

          by aztecraingod on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 11:37:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed... (0+ / 0-)

      I read "mental ingredients" (not a felicitous phrase) as cultural. J.G.A. Pocock, the great American historian put it this way: "Men and women cannot do what men and women cannot say they can do." In other words, you cannot manifest change inside a cultural/historical context that lacks the imagination for that change. You cannot transplant the institutional underpinnings of democratic government (for example, a military under strict civilian control, an independent judiciary, legal protections for property, domestic policing relatively free from corruption, and the apparatus like law schools, service academies, etc. that transmit institutional memory) unless the cultural context makes it possible. Change can come, but it is inter-generational and agonizingly slow.

      This also, by the way, is why there will be no "Revolution" in the United States. It is outside the "mental ingredients" for Americans to imagine such an event.

      At any rate, why spend any time fuming about David Brooks?

      Is that a real poncho, or is that a Sears' poncho? - Frank Zappa

      by JoesGarage on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 09:38:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yep, it's a hack job on Brooks (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LynChi, Fishtroller01, hmi, Be Skeptical

      Just like the right wing propaganda machine does to many left columnists.  We've lowered ourselves to the gutter level of the Republicans.

      Much of what Brooks says about religious extremism (and he repeatedly makes it clear that's what he's talking about) is accurate.  He certainly doesn't see that the Christian extremists in this country lack the capacity to govern in a democracy.

      But this diary is a hack job.  It completely misinterprets what Brooks is saying, and for the most part, simply ignores what he is saying and goes off on some rant about something Brooks isn't even talking about.

      If we lower ourselves to a Tea Party level, we've already lost our democracy.

    •  If this article was written (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Judge Moonbox

      By someone who consistently advocates for secular government and the separation of church and state, then it would be a totally different issue.

      But it's not. It's coming from someone who supports and advocates for the religious right here in our own country, so it is clearly an example of religious bigotry.

      Throw in the "mental ingredients" bit and you definitely have a racist slant.

      All this railing on Hunter reminds me of the progressive Ron Paul fans - you can't just listen to someone's opinion independently of annoying else they've ever done. Sure, maybe you can give him an ounce of credit for seeing that religious extremism and government do not work well together.

      But the fact that Brooks has never made the same observation about his own party removes any sort of validity his piece could have had.

      We may agree with him, but he doesn't agree with us. He's not writing this because he believes in secular government; he's writing this because he doesn't believe in Islamic government. Two very different things.

      "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

      by La Gitane on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 10:48:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Still no predictor. (0+ / 0-)

      You can't say that just because Morsi follows an ideology, that he WOULD have done as he had. Brooks ignores such factors as openness and skill. If Morsi had been more open to voices outside his circle, he would not have faced such a crisis.

      Also, Brooks applies a standard to Islamists that he wouldn't dare to apply to Christianists. There are people who claim to find in the Qoran passages that justify murder and dishonesty. Any decent look at the history of organized Christianity will fond that leaders had no problem with any absence in the Bible. Look at the Doctrine of Christian Discovery as propounded by Pope Nicholas II shortly before Columbus used the doctrine to justify aggression and enslavement.

      The furor over Friday's [10.5] job report revealed a political movement that is rooting for American failure, so obsessed with taking down Obama that good news drives its members into a blind rage. -Paul Krugman

      by Judge Moonbox on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 02:39:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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