The uprising and turmoil in Egypt presents a serious dilemma for many. It could be considered a distinction without a difference. But I do see difference, somewhat.
Mubarak is a secular dictator. Oh, he has the title of President, but the truth is he’s a dictator. He has outlawed the very dangerous Muslim Brotherhood and he has destroyed the moderate opposition insofar as a coalesced force. But the Muslim Brotherhood is still strong in Egypt, and chances are very strong that MB will gain power in Egypt, creating a Mohammedan dictatorship.
So, the only practicable choice is between supporting a dictatorship of one color and supporting a dictatorship of a different color. Therein lies the dilemma, the distinction without a difference. The Brothers Warner give a good example:
But for a more scholarly explanation, Mister Webster offers up the following:
Dilemma \Di*lem”ma\, n. [L. dilemma, Gr. ?; di- = di`s- twice + ? to take. See Lemma.]
1. (Logic) An argument which presents an antagonist with two or more alternatives, but is equally conclusive against him, whichever alternative he chooses. [1913 Webster]
Note: The following are instances of the dilemma. A young rhetorician applied to an old sophist to be taught the art of pleading, and bargained for a certain reward to be paid when he should gain a cause. The master sued for his reward, and the scholar endeavored to elude his claim by a dilemma. “If I gain my cause, I shall withhold your pay, because the judge’s award will be against you; if I lose it, I may withhold it, because I shall not yet have gained a cause.” “On the contrary,” says the master, “if you gain your cause, you must pay me, because you are to pay me when you gain a cause; if you lose it, you must pay me, because the judge will award it.” –Johnson. [1913 Webster]
2. A state of things in which evils or obstacles present themselves on every side, and it is difficult to determine what course to pursue; a vexatious alternative or predicament; a difficult choice or position. [1913 Webster]
A strong dilemma in a desperate case! To act with infamy, or quit the place. –Swift. [1913 Webster]
There is no true option for liberty for Egypt, only for which version of dictatorship comes out the other side. It is definitely a “pick your poison” situation. About that situation, neo-neocon has some pertinent information.
I’m old enought to remember 1979 and Iran quite vividly. Some of those same brave voices, that same exhilaration. And we know how it turned out. And that’s why I worry.
That, and polls such as this, which was taken in December of 2010. It indicates that the populace of Egypt may mean something quite different from what Americans mean when we use words such as “an end to injustice.”
Some of the findings:
Egyptians who support Hamas: 49%
Egyptians who support Hezbollah: 30%
Egyptians who support al Qaeda: 20%
82% of Egyptian respondents favored stoning as punishment for adultery, and 84% favored death as punishment for apostasy (leaving the Muslim religion).
54% approve of suicide bombing in some circumstances.
It’s sobering, to say the least. When the real Arab street stands up, what will it be saying?
As it stands now, Egypt’s Coptic Christians are persecuted, terrorized, and murdered for being Christian. While it’s currently illegal, there is no real government protection. But if MB gains power, the Coptic Christians will most definitely be targeted for death, all legal-like. And the women will most definitely be stripped of their liberty and comparative equality.
What’s worse, Egypt is one of two middle east countries at peace with Israel, the other being Jordan. There are truces but no actual peace agreements, and there can be no peace agreements because the Quran prohibits peace with Israel. Truce to rebuild your armaments, yes. But not peace. And the Muslim Brotherhood has made it abundantly clear if they gain control over Egypt, Egypt will once again be at war with Israel.
So the question becomes, which Egypt do you want? An Egypt where Christians are second-class citizens, Egyptians lose their citizenship if they marry Israelis, and liberty is not an option, but the Suez is open and Israel is at peace? Or an Egypt where Christians are terminated, women are second-class citizens, liberty is not an option, and Israel is at war? Those are the two options.
When it comes down to it, the Egyptians will decide for themselves which evil they desire. But it’s likely to make the world a much more dangerous place.
Sidenote: Mubarak’s shutting down the internet has shown the danger of giving the kill switch to DC.