In an Op-Ed piece for Asharq Alawsat, Mohamed Al Rumaihi writes a useful reminder that just because you saw it in a film doesn’t necessarily make it so.
He’s commenting on the way supporters of both the Muslim Brotherhood and its opponents in Egypt seem to believe that whatever is happening, it’s all due to the US. “The US support the Brotherhood!” cries one side; “The US supports the Army!” cries the other. Both believe, or seem to believe, that the US is omnipotent, that it can just make things happen, usually to the detriment of Arabs and/or Muslims.
If only! Were the US truly omnipotent, it would surely act to force things in directions that benefit it. It might try, but it also signally fails. Those failure ought to suggest that its power is actually rather more limited than imagined. Even if Hollywood films tend to show that Americans win in the end — a supposition of Al Rumaihi’s that I’m not quite prepared to accept — actual history, which is both knowable and should be known, ought to teach the American power is not unlimited, not always correctly applied even for American interests, and, just like any other human endeavor, is subject to human failings and flaws.
Hollywood is not a reliable teacher. Not only are its stories simplified to fit a format, but they are also written and directed to promote specific points of view. Sometimes these films intentionally distort what we know of history; sometimes they only ignore the importance of what they seek to portray. They are no panacea for ignorance, but instead often drive ignorance into stupidity.
Opinion: Thanks to Hollywood, Arabs have an inflated sense of US power
Mohamed Al Rumaihi
In the 1960s, Mutiny on the Bounty was screened in Egyptian cinemas. It was jokingly rumored that the then-president, Gamal Abel Nasser, told his PR manager to send a telegram in support of the rebels. The joke is not only cruel, but also bitter. It indirectly mocks Nasser’s readiness to support any “rebellion,” on the assumption that all rebels have experienced injustice.
It appears that history is repeating itself. The political forces in the Arab region have failed to realize that the main catalyst of the events has been internal, not external, and that outside players offer nothing more than verbal condemnation.
Both sides of the conflict in Egypt claim that the US supports the other side. There is no need to cite examples given that anyone overseeing the media, whether written or audiovisual, can hear and see the accusations both sides exchange.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s slogans and stances are clear. They not only condemn the US for siding with what they call the “Putschists,” they also adopt delusory slogans like “Down with America” and “Down with Israel.” At the same time, the Brotherhood praises the stance of Senator John McCain and his colleagues to the extent that they claim that US politicians are on the side of Mohamed Mursi.
In contrast, many media outlets and politicians in Egypt accuse the US of supporting and empowering the Brotherhood in Egypt, while still expecting them to establish friendly relations with Israel on the other. Nevertheless, wise viewers will realize that politicians twist facts in order to win supporters and tarnish the reputation of their rivals.