Good God Man

Posted by sepoy on June 11, 2008 · 1 min read
I just had dinner at a Nile-side restaurant with two Egyptian officials and a businessman, and one of them quoted one of his children as asking: “Could something like this ever happen in Egypt?” And the answer from everyone at the table was, of course, “no.” It couldn't happen anywhere in this region. Could a Copt become president of Egypt? Not a chance. Could a Shiite become the leader of Saudi Arabia? Not in a hundred years. A Bahai president of Iran? In your dreams. Here, the past always buries the future, not the other way around.


If a Shiite cannot become the leader of Saudi Arabia than a Muslim cannot lead United States either. Okay? Do you have a functional brain??

Friedman's hilariously painful column is - as usual - full of inanities but two points are worth yelling out aloud about. 1. American exceptionalism 2. American exceptionalism.

Thanks to Lapata for telling me not to read today's Friedman.


aaron | June 11, 2008

I couldn't get past the first paragraph. The phrase "I cannot tell a lie" kills me; oh, please, do speak truth to power Tom, do, please defend the republic with clear-sighted insight and hard-headed analysis. Actually I read most of it. Hard not to galk at a roadside accident, even if it makes you feel yucky afterwards.

Ikram | June 12, 2008

I thought Friedmans' column was OK. It's the good part of breathy American exceptionalism. Go Team! And though Obama isn't Muslim, but he is a member of your country's major minority -- like Copts in Egypt, Shias in Saudi (the Bahai-Iran thing is wrong though -- should be Azeri -- which has already happened). Possibly Catholics in the UK (Blair only converted after he resigned). Can you imagine a Sindhi leading Pakistan? Impossible. That's why America is exceptional!

sepoy | June 12, 2008

Sadly no, Ikram. Friedman is not setting up 'minority rules' argument - he is setting up Muslim in the White House. "While Obama, who was raised a Christian, is constantly assuring Americans that he is not a Muslim, Egyptians are amazed, excited and agog that America might elect a black man whose father's family was of Muslim heritage. They don't really understand Obama's family tree, but what they do know is that if America — despite being attacked by Muslim militants on 9/11 — were to elect as its president some guy with the middle name “Hussein,” it would mark a sea change in America-Muslim world relations." The example para I cited in the post doesn't highlight ethnic, or racial minorities - it highlight RELIGIOUS minorities: Shia, Copts, Baha'i. Friedman's rhetorical point is exactly that Obama is analogous to them. Oh, except he ISN'T. In any case, a Sindhi (and a Shi'a) have already led Pakistan, twice. The Bhuttos.

elizabeth | June 12, 2008

I swear I was a saner, happier person back when TimesSelect kept me away from this stuff. The topic of Obama's rep abroad seems to be bringing out the worst in op-ed page concern trolling; between this one and Applebaum and Lutt-whack it's like the perfect storm trifecta of stupid.

Farangi/Steve | June 12, 2008

You still pissing on Freidman when you write: If a Shiite cannot become the leader of Saudi Arabia than a Muslim cannot lead United States either. Okay? Do you have a functional brain?? Or do you mean to say America wouldn't elect a Muslim president because Islams are kind of scary? If you're saying that the U.S. hates Muslims like Saudi hates Shia, I have to call shenanigans on you. A Muslim could certainly be president: Article VI, section 3, and states: “ religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." The probability of the United States having a Muslim president is quite low for now. Yet, many of the framers, who were aware of the difference between the words "religious" and "creedal," did not likely intend the United States executive to be anything,, least of all Christian. We've already reached the point where Mormons and Jews can make serious claims to electability to high office; Muslims may not be far behind. In contrast, the Saudi monarchy, which probably does not include many Shi'a, can blow me. Oh, and Barack Obama is a Protestant Christian; we should end every missive so, just as Cato ended every speech to the Senate with Carthago delenda est!

Farangi/Steve | June 12, 2008

Oh, and Ikram, America's population breaks down thus: White: 73.9% or 221.3 million Latino/a: 14% or 44 million Black or African American: 12.2% or 37.1 million Asian: 4.4% or 13.1 million American Indian or Alaska Native: 0.8% or 2.4 million Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander: 0.14% or 0.43 million It's a common misconception that African Americans are America's biggest minority. They're not. With the exception of Native Americans, whose population at the time of Columbian contact has been reduced by probably 90% or so (totally a genocide), African Americans have been the worst-treated of America's minorities, and thus have a special narrative foothold. Latinos/as, on the other hand, have generally been treated to a "kind of like white guys" status (consider that no one batted an eye when Cuban emigre Dezi Arnaz married and reproduced with Lucille Ball in the '50's). This is not to say that white people in Greenwich, Connecticut don't mistreat their Puerto Rican gardner. Just means it's a little more complicated than the easy binary calculations of white/not white that take place where African Americans are concerned.

sepoy | June 12, 2008

Fair enough, Farangi. I did mean that "America wouldn't elect a Muslim president because Islams are kind of scary?" And I take your point about there being no constitutional hurdle to a Muslim in the White House.

sk | June 12, 2008

Meanwhile, in the city that's home to the Bush clan...