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Monday, November 26, 2012

Soft bigotry of low expectations: The Times excuses Mohammed Morsy

The New York Times is giving Egyptian dictator for life Mohammed Morsy a pass over his seizing dictatorial authority over his country on Friday (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
The scale of the backlash against the decree appeared to catch Mr. Morsi’s government by surprise. “In his head, the president thought that this would push us forward, but then it was met with all this inflammation,” Mr. Mekki said. He faulted the president for failing to consult with his opponents before issuing it, but he also faulted the opponents for their own unwillingness to come to the table: “I blame all of Egypt, because they do not know how to talk to each other.”
Government and party officials maintained that Mr. Morsi was forced to claim the expansive new powers to protect the process of writing the country’s new constitution, and that the decree would be in effect only until the charter was in place. A court of judges appointed under the Mubarak government was widely rumored to be about to dissolve the elected constitutional assembly, dominated by Mr. Morsi’s Islamist allies — just as the same court had previously cast out the newly elected Islamist-led Parliament — and the decree issued by Mr. Morsi on Thursday gave him the power to stop it.
“I see with all of you, clearly, that the court verdict is announced two or three weeks before the court session,” Mr. Morsi told his supporters on Friday, referring to the pervasive rumors about the court’s impending action in a fiery speech defending his decree. “We will dissolve the entire homeland, as it seems! How is that? How? Those waywards must be held accountable."
He said that corrupt Mubarak loyalists were “hiding under the cover of the judiciary” and declared, “I will uncover them!”
But instead of rallying the public to his side and speeding the country’s political transition, as Mr. Morsi evidently hoped, his decree has unleashed new instability across the country. On Sunday, the first day of business here since the decree was issued, the Egyptian stock market fell by about 9.5 percent, erasing more than $4 billion of value.
Can you imagine what the Times' reaction would have been if Binyamin Netanyahu were to arrogate to himself the power to overrule Israel's Supreme Court and sent the police out to enforce it? Well, you don't have to imagine it. When it was proposed that the government enact the Levy report a few months ago, which would have legally overruled certain Supreme Court decisions in this country, the Times reacted with fury.
The Times goes on to make its 'bad policy' argument.
The recommendations would annul a number of past Israeli Supreme Court rulings and orders, including a 1979 decision forbidding the expropriation of land for “military needs” when the real goal is settlement construction. It is alarming to see this latest attack on the court, which has tried to temper government excesses, ruling that several outposts and buildings constructed on private Palestinian land should be dismantled. Thirty families were evicted from five such buildings last month.
In other words, the Times is arguing that Israel's Supreme Court ought to reign supreme rather than being a co-equal branch of government, and that the Knesset - the closest thing we have to a democratically elected polity in in this country - ought to have no say. Were the Times to adopt that standard for the United States, there would be no income tax today. There would have been no New Deal in the 1930's (some people might argue that the US would be better off that way...). Clearly, declaring an unelected Supreme Court infallible and more equal (to use George Orwell's term) does not comport with democratic values. The Times ought to know better.
So why does Morsy get a pass? Why is it okay to annul Egyptian Supreme Court rulings illegally but not okay to legally annul Israeli Supreme Court rulings?

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