Egyptian Coup Coverage Execrable
I have indigestion from consuming the execrable media coverage of the Egyptian Coup d’etat. Yes, I called it that. I used that word: Coup d’etat. Any semi-lucid, partially sane observer–regardless of one’s political stripes–would use that term without hesitation. Otherwise we may as well just use whatever neologisms we prefer to describe anything we want. Why not use the softer and seemingly seamless term ‘regime change’? Because while a regime did change, that term fails to carry any explanatory power. Might as well call it an ‘orange’ or ‘Egyptian Spring 2.0’
We need to call it what it actually is in order for any rational discussion about its likely consequences to proceed. For instance, in the very first paragraph of the Wikipedia definition of Coup d’etat there is this edifying notation: “When the coup neither fails completely nor succeeds, a civil war is a likely consequence.” If you need to look up “civil war” just picture an army boot stamping on your face. Forever. Oh, sorry; that’s probably a better definition for a ‘military dictatorship’–which is what is now in place in Egypt. A civil war is when all manner of footwear is employed to stamp on your face.
When we allow people to casually disregard basic word definitions for obvious political purposes–in this case it appears as though the United States government is legislatively bound to withhold military aid from any government that has seized power through a Coup d’etat, meaning the teat that supplies some $1.2 billion dollars in ‘aid’ for the Egyptian military would dry up–we encourage mendacity and the elevation of the worst among us.
Common referents between peoples become impossible. We remain in our own hermetically sealed realities with our own individualized delusions–as a U-haul full of baggage that will need to be unpacked before any discussion can even begin. Such a world of free floating word-salad is fine when it’s transgressive–ala Family Guy, but perverse and disheartening when it has as its subject people dying in the streets. Cavalier cheerleading for the overthrow of a democratically elected government that displays elements of a despotic theocracy is regrettable; callous disregard for what may be the consequences of that violent overthrow–years of murder and mayhem–is just despicable.
That’s the surreality I’ve been experiencing after some three days of international coverage of the Egyptian Coup d’etat. I’ve been reading what amounts to largely interchangeable ‘news’ and ‘opinion‘ coverage of events there–and it just makes me sick. The sorry-assed word salads assembled by the likes of Politico, Real Clear Politics, Time, and even Al Jazeera inevitably repeat the same tortured logic: The violent overthrow of the democratically elected government of Mohammed Morsi carried out by elements of that country’s military-industrial-complex is not a coup d’etat, because, ipso facto, that’s a bad word that describes bad things and although it’s awkward and unseemly for a nation’s military to overthrow it’s government, in this case it just can’t be bad. Therefore it cannot be a coup. But what is it? A continuation of the 2011 Arab Spring? Well it could be, but it would still be a Coup d’etat, albeit one that could provide a democratic opening for a broader, more representative government. Well, that’s possible, if not quite plausible. But how about a fucking mention of the possibility that overthrowing the Muslim Brotherhood–which waited in the wings some eighty years for their turn and, like it or not, have real, deep social roots in Egyptian Society–may force them back underground and initiate a civil war. One could easily make the argument that this worst possible outcome is not only plausible, but likely.
Watching all of the cringe-worthy dissembling, hand-wringing and parsing of language surrounding just the use of the word Coup d’etat has been painful. It is also instructive, as this pantomime points us to the domestic and international actors involved in the coup and the interests they represent.
New media = plus ca change. We may as well define a book as the internet made out of trees and succumb to the end of all language.