Bonfire of the Vanities (Italian: Falò delle vanità) refers to the burning of objects that are deemed to be occasions of sin. The most infamous one took place on 7 February 1497, when supporters of the Dominican priest Girolamo Savonarola collected and publicly burned thousands of objects like cosmetics, art, and books in Florence, Italy, on the Mardi Gras festival.
It would appear that Egypt’s rebirth as a modern nation was extraordinarily short-lived. The Muslim Brotherhood has made peace with the Egyptian military. The Brotherhood has also seemingly reached a political deal with the partisans of Hosni Mubarak’s old party. As a result of all of this wheeling and dealing, The Muslim Brotherhood now has vastly more power than the demonstrators for reform and modernity who were the face of the Egyptian Revolution.
This will cause the government of Egypt to actually become responsive to its people – not the overabundant and unemployable graduates of its Potemkin university system. This will lead to a government in Egypt that reflects the following strong popular preferences of the Egyptians.
A Pew survey released in December showed that a trifling 95% of Egyptian Muslims thought it a “good” thing for Islam to play a “large” role in politics. Roughly four out of five said they favored stoning adulterers, whipping and dismembering thieves, and the death penalty for any believer who dares to abandon Islam.
The I-Pads, the laptop computers, the cell phone cameras are all going to go away in Egypt. Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a fire-breathing, fundamentalist Egyptian Cleric returned in February. He preached a sermon celebrating the downfall of Hosni Mubarak and ended his remarks with the following homily.
In a special mention of the Palestinian issue, Al-Qaradhawi asked the Egyptian army to open wide the Rafah crossing and to pray for the re-conquest of Jerusalem by the Muslims, so that he and the Muslims could pray in security at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Presidential candidate and presumed leader of the “moderates” and “reformists” in Egypt, Mohamed ElBaradei, is seen by many as a beacon of hope in a darkling plain. He was to be the man that stifled all the ignorant prejuidices and brought about a Modern Egypt. ElBaradei, after all, holds a Nobel Peace Prize as a talisman athwart the forces of darkest primeval ignorance. Qaradawi preached once, ElBaradei now has the following modern ideas.
“if Israel attacked Gaza we would declare war against the Zionist regime.”
ElBaradei told the Al-Watan Newspaper. He then clarified his remarks.
In case of any future Israeli attack on Gaza – as the next president of Egypt – I will open the Rafah border crossing and will consider different ways to implement the joint Arab defense agreement.”
“Israel controls Palestinian soil” adding that that “there has been no tangible breakthrough in reconciliation process because of the imbalance of power in the region – a situation that creates a kind of one way peace.”
Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi drives ElBaradei the way an ignorant farmer worries a work mule. The modernists, the reformers, the educated new class, they are one snarky comment away from meeting Allah. The toys of modernity will be burned by ignorant mobs just as numerous paintings from the Florentine Renaissance were burned by Girolamo Savonarola for their pernicious idolatry.
They may well drive on towards Jerusalem. Ignorance cannot tolerate and endure if learned wisdom stands nearby in contrast and apposition. The may well have to drive on towards Jerusalem. The people in the streets of Cairo now have what they want in a government. They will not tolerate having a system they believe shown to be corrupt, ignorant and incapable.
Meanwhile, the US Government continues to support the rebels in Libya. Perhaps it’s a shame that no Pew Survey exists to warn us of what to expect if the people in Libya really get what they asked for. It may even be bad enough to be what most of the people in Libya truly deserve.