Monday, April 15, 2013

James Zogby Won't Tell the Whole Story

In his most recent article, James Zogby actually does something different and doesn't complain about Israel and Jewish people! Nope, instead he complains about Americans. See, the subject of his latest study is American attitudes toward Egypt. He has found that although Americans had a pretty positive view of Egypt before all the rioting, raping, burning, beating, looting, violence and revolution they don't. Now only one in three Americans have a positive view of Egypt and almost half have an unfavorable view! Why you ask? Well, it sure isn't because of all those things I just mentioned! No sirree. Zogby is here to explain to us what the problem is:
"This dramatic shift in U.S. opinion is a function of two main factors: concern about the role being played by the Muslim Brotherhood and the American public's general lack of awareness about Egypt's contemporary history."
He spends the majority of his article expanding on these two factors, though I am curious if this is his opinion for why American attitudes have changed or if they are backed up in the data. Zogby speculates that this is because Americans still think of Egypt as the proud ancient people who formed the country that we know today, and not the Arabs who conquered it and stole it.
"While modern Egypt has been known in the Arab World for its cinema, its comedy and music, and its political and intellectual leadership, the image of the country was never established in the United States. As a result, positive attitudes were "soft" and/or derivative of other factors. Back when Egypt's ratings were high, in response to the open-ended question "what is the first thought that comes to mind when you hear Egypt?" the overwhelming majority of answers recalled the "pyramids", "the Sphinx", and the other "glories of ancient Egypt." There were also respondents who mentioned the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and the Camp David Accords. [Now they think of violence, unrest and the Muslim Brotherhood.]"
That is one possibility. The other is that now that Egypt is in the news we hear more about Egypt than we used to. And what we hear isn't exactly good. Just ask Lara Logan.

What about the Muslim Brotherhood? Well, even hear Zogby spins:
"As much as "soft" attitudes are to blame, concern with the Muslim Brotherhood is also a factor in the new negative opinion toward Egypt. Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, is only viewed favorably by 14 percent of Americans, while over one half have an unfavorable view of Morsi. And by almost three to one Americans rate former President Hosni Mubarak as having been more of a friend and ally of the U.S. than Morsi, the current president....It is important to note that it is not anti-Muslim animus that drives these numbers, since strong negative views of the Muslim Brotherhood and President Morsi exist even among those Americans who hold a favorable view of Muslims."
Although it is good that he dismissed the "anti-Muslim" point, I think it is interesting that he provides us with information about why Americans are dumb and that's why they don't like Egypt where as no such information is provided about Morsi. Zogby probably sees himself as simply reporting the facts but I notice that he is somewhat hesitant to speculate about why Americans might not like the Muslim Brotherhood.

We should give credit where it is due, Zogby stopped bashing Israel and America for five minutes. Even if he wants us to believe that Americans only feel the way they do because they are dumb.

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