Mark Steyn views the fruits of the Arab Spring and observes that the jubilation in the West was ... uh ...premature.
Liberated from the grip of Mubarak, the new Egypt is a land where the Israeli embassy gets attacked and ransacked, Christians get killed and their churches burned to the ground, female reporters for the western media are sexually assaulted in broad daylight, and for the rest of the gals a woman's place is in the clitoridectomy clinic.
Remember that the hope was that so-called "social media" was going to transform the Middle East into an upwardly mobile society liberated from the despots of old?
Whatever one feels about the sharia-enforcing, Jew-hating, genital-mutilating enthusiasts of the Muslim Brotherhood, they do accurately reflect a significant slice — and perhaps a majority — of the Egyptian people. The problem with the old-school dictators was that in the end Mubarak, Ben Ali and Gaddafi didn't represent anything other than their Swiss bank accounts. The question for the wider world is what do "social media" represent? If they supposedly embody the forces of progress and modernity, then they've just taken an electoral pounding from guys who haven't had a new idea since the 7th century.Don't get me wrong; I like goofy pet photos. But can these gizmos do anything else? Yes, in theory. But in practice is a culture that "revolves on itself without repose" likely to be that effective at communicating real ideas to the wider world? Ideas on liberty, free speech, property rights, women's rights, and all the other things conspicuous by their absence in the philosophies of Egypt's new political class.In the end, a revolution cannot be Tweeted. Whatever their defects, the unlovely forces running the new Egypt understand the difference between actually mutilating a young girl's genitals to deny her the possibility of sexual pleasure, and merely "following" your local clitoridectomist on his Twitter feed.A century ago, the west exported its values. So, in Farouk's Egypt, at the start of a new legislative session, the king was driven to his toy town parliament to deliver the speech from the throne in an explicit if ramshackle simulacrum of Westminster's rituals of constitutional monarchy.Today, we decline to export values, and complacently assume, as the very term "Facebook Revolution" suggests, that technology marches in support of modernity. It doesn't. Facebook's flat IPO and Egypt's presidential election are in that sense part of the same story, of a developed world whose definitions of innovation and achievement have become too shrunken and undernourished. The vote in Egypt tells us a lot about them, but it also tells us something about us.