In the weeks since civil unrest began in Egypt, Glenn Beck has peddled bizarre theories and doomsaying about a coming worldwide caliphate and/or communist revolution that will supposedly begin with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Beck's narrative became so riddled with holes and distortions, the only way to approach it was to demand more proof. Beck tied Egypt to everything and everyone from Code Pink to Van Jones and the Brazilian constitution. His prop chalkboard implied that Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States, is a "dictator we've made friends with." Even conservative media figures criticized Beck. Bill Kristol said Beck was "marginalizing himself" when he "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." John Fund said on Reliable Sources that Beck spoke in "apocalyptic conspiracy terms about America becoming an Islamic state."
Tonight, hosts and guests on Fox News' prime-time programming put into perspective exactly how unrealistic Beck's hysteria is.
Minutes after Beck's show ended, Special Report hosted Ed Husain, billed as a former Islamic radical, to "get some perspective on the stunning events in Egypt." Husain said that the Muslim Brotherhood is "not a monolithic organization" and that it "has different strands within it." He also predicted that young Egyptians would not tolerate an extreme religious regime:
BAIER: Now, today, this historic change, and there's all the celebration on the square, and throughout Egypt, that this 30-year dictator has been overthrown. The power has gone to the military, and there are still questions about what comes next. Some people are worried about the vacuum and possibly the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists stepping in. What are your thoughts about that?
HUSAIN: Well, as a student and subsequently after that I spent some time with the Muslim Brotherhood so I'm familiar with the thinking and its pragmatic strategy. The good news is -- well, let's start with the bad news. The bad news is the Muslim Brotherhood does play the mood music to which suicide bombers dance. It did traditionally have a very confrontational attitude towards the West. It's very suspicious of Israel, to put it mildly. And, it tends to mobilize people around its own interpretation of religion. That's the bad news.
But the good news is the Muslim Brotherhood over the last 30 years has abandoned violence, and it tends to be pragmatic and want to enter democratic politics. I think if the Muslim Brotherhood is brought into a broader coalition, but on condition that it respects the peace treaty with Israel, that it's respectful towards the West and it respects human rights, which it claims to, then there's good news. The debate and the discussion is whether we'll get there, but keeping them outside [unintelligible]
BAIER: But if you listen to some of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood who have talked in recent weeks about ending the treaty with Israel, about starting another war with Israel, about Sharia law. I mean, that doesn't sound like a concern for human rights or a lack of violence.
HUSAIN: I hear everything you're saying. That said, the Muslim Brotherhood thankfully is not a monolithic organization. It has different strands within it. El-Gazar, the man who went to see Omar Suleiman last Friday, came out saying the peace treaty with Israel is in the Egyptian national interest. So there's good news. You had Mohammed el-Badie, the current leader of the brotherhood, who is not a reformist, is a conservative. He wants within the Muslim brotherhood tradition -- he wants to create what he calls a civilian government, not an Islamist government.
BAIER: The problem, I guess, is that there wasn't an opposition group, because Mubarak had clamped down on all opposition. And so in the absence of that, do people then turn to what's comfortable to them, which may be their religion and perhaps extreme religion in some cases?
HUSAIN: What we've seen with this generation of Egyptians -- jeans, baseball caps, tattoos, Facebook, Twitter -- they're not the kind of people who are going to sit back and allow some kind of Ayatollah Khomeini type figure to take up.
BAIER: You don't think so?
HUSAIN: I think what's important is what's coming up in the six to seven months. In other words, enabling civil society and center-left, center-right, centrist politics to emerge, something that the U.S. government has been trying to do in the Middle East over the last 10 years, but without great success. Now is the critical moment, and it's all up for grabs.
On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly challenged Beck's theory, saying that radicals and communists could not seize power in Europe and the United States. O'Reilly went so far as to tell Beck, "There's no evidence that says I'm not right":
O'REILLY: The insurrection in Western countries.
O'REILLY: You believe that's in play as well, correct?
BECK: Yes, I do. On my show, I've been showing the tapes of communist revolutionaries who are willing to band with anyone here in America. And they're currently saying -- and at big meetings and rallies -- saying, "This needs to come here to America, and it will come here." And they're -- we are the last stop.
O'REILLY: I don't see the constituency.
BECK: You don't have to.
O'REILLY: I don't see the constituency in Britain, in Germany, in the United States. I don't see it.
BECK: You don't have to. You don't have to. All you, all you -- what happened over in Greece, remember the riots in Greece? That's the best that the communists can do, is get that kind of riot. Those were all communist riots. Get that. Now, if you couple that with Islamic extremism, which you know you have all over. That's why Cameron came out, Merkel has come and out, and yesterday Sarkozy.
O'REILLY: They can do a lot of damage.
BECK: Do a lot of damage.
O'REILLY: But they can't change governments, and they can't do -- seize power. They can't.
BECK: I hope that you are right.
O'REILLY: There's no evidence that says I'm not right. There isn't one situation in the country right now -- in the world right now, not one --
O'REILLY: No. But it worked the other way.
BECK: No, it didn't. It's not finished yet. You're in chaos now.
O'REILLY: But it worked the other way in the sense that the army, which is anti-caliphate and anti-extremist, are in charge.
On Hannity, Stephen Hadley, national security adviser under President George W. Bush, pointed out that the Egyptian revolution was not led by Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood and said that the Egyptian people are unlikely to vote for an Islamist government in a free and fair election:
HADLEY: It is very difficult to ride the tiger when you get into these kinds of events. I think the administration was behind the power curve, maybe most of the way through. But I think -- and maybe Sean, you're right there's some damage. But I think over the long term, if this revolution in Egypt goes well, if we can help them over the next months ahead, do a transition to a real democratic government, I think that is going to be a real triumph for American policy, a triumph for the Egyptian people, and a good thing at the end of the day. You know, it was bumpy along the road. But I think the real question is going to be how Egypt goes forward in the months and years ahead.
HANNITY: Stephen, maybe we just have a difference of opinion here, because I don't really share your confidence, but I have deep respect for you personally here. As evidenced by Doug Schoen's poll -- Doug was on last night on the program here, and he points out in particular, you know, Sharia law. Recent polls in Egypt show that 84 percent say that apostates, or those who forsake Islam, should face the death penalty. Seventy-seven percent say that, in fact, if someone is caught in a robbery that their hands ought to be cut off, and 54 percent believe men and women should be segregated in the workplace. This is Egyptian popular opinion polls, and backed by a number of polls that have come out.
HADLEY: Well, you also have some popular opinion polls that are being demonstrated on the streets behind you and over the course of the week or two. I think what's interesting is, this was not a Hamas-led, Hezbollah-led -- it was not a Muslim Brotherhood-led revolution, it was really people standing up and calling for their rights. It was done really in the name of Egyptian patriotism. So, I think one of the real challenges is, because of the policies of Hosni Mubarak, there were really only two choices to the Egyptian people. Either the government party or the underground Muslim Brotherhood. The transition that they need to go through now is to give an opportunity for non-Islamist parties, for civil society to organize themselves so they can participate in this election, and so that the Egyptian people can really have a free and fair election and a range of choices. And my belief is that at the end of the day, when they exercise that choice it will not be to impose Sharia law on themselves or an Islamist government. This has been a revolution in the name of freedom and democracy.