The real Brotherhood reveals itself

By Michael Weiss:

A nice sociological experiment
would be to ask any child of
average intelligence what he
thinks a fit occupation is for a man who believes all at once that Jews are a subspecies who somehow maintain a monopoly on
America’s sources of
information, that commercial
aircraft piloted by al-Qaeda
agents did not destroy the Twin Towers on 9/11, and that everything one needs to learn about life is encoded in the original “Planet of the Apes” film. I might question your sample pool if your
responses varied far beyond
“squeegie-wielder” or perhaps “syndicated AM radio talk show host.” Yet it is remarkable the ease with which a whole intellectual-industrial complex has sprung up crediting the fitness of such a person for the
presidency of the most populous Arab country. In the last month, we have learned that Mohammed Morsi thought, as few as two years
ago, that Jews, or “Zionists” as he likes to call them, are “bloodsuckers” and
“descendants of apes and pigs”; that Egyptians ought to “nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred” of them; and that a boycott was in order of all countries that support Israel, including the United States, which only
provides Egypt with $1.5 billion in annual subsidies.

When confronted with these comments from his not-so-distant past by a delegation of discomfited US senators, Morsi clarified that this was all a big misunderstanding,
or rather a willful
misinterpretation of what he’d intended. As one senator
summarized the Egyptian
president’s clarification, “Well, I think we all know that the media in the United States has made a big deal of this, and we know the media of the United States is controlled by certain forces and they don’t view me favorably.”

As a certain force in the media that doesn’t view him
favorably, I think I know what
Morsi meant by this. What I
don’t know is what the New
York Times meant in its editorial on the subject, wherein it claimed that such statements, which were revealed after Morsi had arrogated to himself
dictatorial powers leading to
mass riots in Egypt, “raise serious doubts about whether he can ever be the force for moderation and stability that is needed.”

What would confirm those doubts for the Times?

And why is the presumption of “moderation” still bestowed on a man and an ideological organization that have worked overtime to prove the opposite about themselves, much as excuses are still made on their behalf? The original definition of an
intellectual was someone who
grappled with the Jewish
Question and came out on the
right side. Today, it seems, that definition has widened to encompass defenders of those who don’t even know or care that such a question ever existed.

Yet “apes and pigs” isn’t the half of it. Decades of tracts, sermons and observed behavior did little to prompt a serious investigation into the totalitarian nature of the Muslim Brotherhood by a truly impressive array of policymakers, journalists and academics, some of whom continue to resist the
dawning of a new consensus by resorting to pure silliness:

comparing Morsi to Abraham
Lincoln, or reading in his
“constitutional declaration” of
November 22 – in which he
obliterated judicial review of his executive powers and declared himself the sole steward of the Egyptian revolution – the lineaments of a committed democrat. Consider first that becoming a Muslim Brother takes as long as becoming a fully licensed medical doctor or reaching Tom Cruise’s
stature in the Church of
Scientology – surely a sign of some discipline and ideological
rigidity. Loyalty to the
organization is absolute, with
adherents giving an oath to
“listen and obey.” Universities
are considered fertile recruitment grounds, and those who do the recruiting like to initially avoid identifying themselves as members of the Brotherhood – until, that is, they feel they can trust their quarry well enough on first principles. (I’d pay good money to see campus evangelicals or Young Republicans try to dissimulate as anything but themselves.) Even those who seek out membership in the
Brotherhood are severely
vetted for the requisite
religiosity. There is a five-step process that starts by joining an usra, or “family,” which monitors your
indoctrination and scrutinizes
your private life for any sign of waywardness. The second stage involves rote memorization of swathes of the Quran and the texts of Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna. The third stage
involves donating a portion of
your income (usually between five and eight percent,
admittedly below the going L.
Ron Hubbard rate) to the
organization. The fourth stage entails memorization of the entire Quran and the hadith and having your fealty tested with questions, the “wrong” answers to which might lead to your expulsion. The fifth and final stage gives you voting rights within the organization. The whole process can take between
five and eight years. Joining the German Christian Democrats takes five to eight minutes. The height of the Brotherhood
hierarchy is a Politburo-like
Guidance Office (Maktab al-
Irshad) consisting of 15 senior-
ranking Brothers, of which Morsi
was one, and headed by a Supreme Guide. These members
are put in charge of various
departments ranging from
education to recruitment to
political policy, and the officers
are elected by a Central Committee-like Shura Council of
100 Brothers. If this structure seems
inhospitable to dissent and self-
criticism, then it’s because it is.
One Brotherhood youth group
that disagreed with the creation
of the Freedom and Justice Party, believing that the
organization was better suited
to social and cultural outreach,
was purged when it formed its
own unaffiliated party. Voluntary
resignation from the Brotherhood can lead to worse
consequences, as 38-year-old
Abdel Jailil el-Sharnoubi, an old
acquaintance of Morsi and the
former editor-in-chief of Ikhwan Online, discovered when men in masks shot up his car with
submachine guns.

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