Last week, Fox News host Glenn Beck catapulted the word “caliphate” from historical obscurity to the third highest trending item searched on Google. That day, he had devoted a lengthy portion of his TV show to a fanciful conspiracy theory about how the Muslim Brotherhood and Communists were going to team up to take advantage of the crisis in Egypt to take over the world. Beck’s paranoid delusion about radical Islam is emblematic of the reaction of a lot of conservative commentators and politicians to the Middle East democracy movement. Conservatives has dismissed the movement as a “virus” and called for standing by their “good friend” president Hosni Mubarak, because they fear the country will be taken over by Islamists if Egyptians are given the right to choose their own leaders.
But in a surprising move, Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol used his column this week to scold his conservative brethren for refusing to support democracy. Kristol takes special note to call out Beck as a John Bircher who is “marginalizing himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s”:
[H]ysteria is not a sign of health. When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. He’s marginalizing himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s.
Nor is it a sign of health when other American conservatives are so fearful of a popular awakening that they side with the dictator against the democrats. Rather, it’s a sign of fearfulness unworthy of Americans, of short-sightedness uncharacteristic of conservatives, of excuse-making for thuggery unworthy of the American conservative tradition. [...]
Let’s hope that as talk radio hosts find time for reflection, and commentators step back to take a deep breath, they will recall that one of the most hopeful aspects of the current conservative revival is its reclamation of the American constitutionalist tradition. That tradition is anchored even beyond the Constitution, of course, in the Declaration of Independence. And that document, let’s not forget, proclaims that, “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends [life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.”
Over at the conservative National Review, editor Rich Lowry approvingly quotes Kristol, noting, “[h]e takes a well-deserved shot at Glenn Beck’s latest wild theorizing.”
Kristol would probably be less than thrilled with Sarah Palin’s contribution today to the public discourse on Egypt. Employing her renowned wit, Palin slammed Obama for apparently missing a phone call at 3 AM, and said she doesn’t trust the protesters because they could be involved with the Muslim Brotherhood. Palin said while she “want[s] to be able to trust those who are screaming for democracy there in Egypt,” she has no way to “verify” what they actually want.