Saturday, June 11, 2011

Down the Memory Hole

Sarah Palin has a new Facebook note (don’t judge me, alright?) entitled, “Obama’s Strange Strategy: Borrow Foreign Money to Give to Foreign Countries.”

Palin opens with this blast of plain-speakingness: “Should we be borrowing money from China to turn around and give it to the Muslim Brotherhood?” Oh snap! Oh no she didn’t! Oh yes she did.

“Given,” Sarah gives, “that we are running massive deficits and are drowning in more than $14 trillion in debt, and despite not knowing who will rule Egypt until its election this fall, this strange strategy may be the end result given President Obama’s announcement that he is committing $2 billion to Egypt’s ‘new government.’”

“Now,” she continues, “given that Egypt has a history of corruption when it comes to utilizing American aid, it is doubtful that the money will really help needy Egyptian people.”

Exactly – because nothing has changed in Egypt in the last six months, right? No massive, popular, nonviolent uprising against a dictator the U.S. paid off for three decades? Maybe it has something to do with that “new government” you so helpfully put in quotation marks in the last paragraph? Just checking.

“Couple that with the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is organized to have a real shot at taking control of Egypt’s government, and one has to ask why we would send money (that we don’t have) into unknown Egyptian hands?” Sarah asks.

Good point! I wonder what we can do to make sure the Brotherhood doesn’t take over. Show the Egyptian people that the U.S. stands with them in their revolution? That they don’t need to resort to Islamic extremism to be independent and secure? What’s a practical gesture we could make to help convince them? Let’s brainstorm that one.

Sarah’s post garnered 3,838 comments. I skimmed through fifty of them. None challenged Sarah on Egypt; two challenged the GOP’s tax policy.

One of these commenters wrote, ”Its [sic] amazing how this 'ignorant' woman can make a common sense statement that points out the stupidity of our leaders. Would like to see just what they teach in those IVY league schools to produce these elite pundits.”


MAYBE they teach that every year for the past thirty years the United States has both borrowed money from China and given $2 billion in aid to Egypt? That six presidents and sixteen congresses stood behind that policy without controversy? That the only thing that’s different this year is that there’s a chance our aid money will be spent to better the lives of the Egyptian people, rather than line the pockets and fund the security forces of a corrupt, murderous regime?

There’s a reason we spend so much money on education, Ivy League or otherwise, a reason we don’t simply watch CNN to inform ourselves, a reason we don’t just whip out our "common sense" and make spot decisions when it comes to issues like, I don’t know, the biggest political upheaval in the Arab world since 1918. Understanding the world requires context, history, and an ability to at least guess at how our actions look to people on the receiving end.

I’m not exactly sure why this sets me off so. Part of the reason might be that I stayed up late last night arguing on Facebook with an educated Muslim Egyptian man, who is convinced that the CIA is responsible for the violent clashes between Christians and Muslims in Egypt in the last few weeks.

God save us from our respective stupidities.

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