Kevin Myers: 'The Cairo mob, one of the most terrifying urban phenomena, reminded us of reality in Middle East'
Published 04/02/2011 | 05:00
How many media commentators idiotically compared events at the start of the week in Cairo to the storming of the Bastille? So how ignorant of world history must these fools really be to think that the events in France in 1789 led to freedom, peace, brotherhood, and a furtherance of the rights of man?
They actually led to the very opposite: to revolution by bloodthirsty zealots, followed by state tyranny, the creation of a vast secret police, complete with torture chambers, and the murders of hundreds of thousands.
The confident mantra -- "The West has nothing to fear from reform in Egypt" -- which you could find being loudly broadcast in different forms across the liberal European media on Wednesday, lasted about 24 hours. And then the Cairo mob, one of the most terrifying urban phenomena in the world, reminded observers of the reality of the Middle East. Even then, it was mildly entertaining to hear western journalists in Cairo portraying the anti-Mubarak protesters as being high-minded reformers, and the pro-Mubarak demonstrators as being paid thugs and violent criminals especially released from jail. Everyone likes a comfortable narrative, and these simplifications probably tell us more about the needs of the reporters than about reality. Such comforting narratives even survived the apparent lynching on television of two pro-Mubarak horsemen who charged the anti-government crowds, were unseated, and vanished into a mob of frenzied fists.