Kevin Myers: Come back in a year and tell me about Arab Spring
Published 21/12/2011 | 17:00
It was clever of Vaclav Havel to die almost on the first anniversary of the self-immolation by Mohamed Bouazizi. The latter's death was hailed throughout the western liberal media as the dawn of a new age; so let us now celebrate a full year of self-deceit and delusion.
That idiotic term "the Arab Spring" in itself defines the historical ignorance that underwrites this myth. After all, the Prague Spring was deeply non-violent: it was crushed by tanks, but even the Soviets were careful to avoid taking human life. The spring formally ended with the self-immolation of a young student, Jan Palach, an event which appalled many Czechs, because it was the very refutation of the principles of non-violence, emotional continence and stoic endurance of the anti-Stalinist movement in Prague.
Just about everything that has happened in the Arab world in the past year has been the very reverse of that; quite literally so, for it began with a suicide. We should hesitate to analyse why anyone takes his own life, but nonetheless, in Bouazizi's case it seems to have been because he had been issued a fine by a woman police officer. Yes, it was her sex which so outraged him. And only by imposing the sunny and cheerful dogmas of western liberalism upon the events that have since swept the Arab world could anyone conclude that the outcome has been spring-like. In reality, what we are seeing -- as the elections in Tunisia and Egypt have shown -- is the emergence of democratically-mandated Islamism. Yes, you can call that spring, as women disappear behind the burka, and imams become judges, and alcohol is banned, and jihad takes its place on the university-syllabus; but by western standards, this is like confusing the Arctic with the Equator.