Is Anne Patterson a victim of Egyptian escapism, fantasy, and xenophobia?

Josh Rogin and Eli Lake in an article in the Daily Beast, on our ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson, write:

“Let us remember that, in situations like this (President Morsi is forced to leave office by the Egyptian military), the U.S. cannot win in the court of Egyptian public opinion. It is far easier for the Egyptians to find foreign conspiracies than to look at themselves in the mirror. It’s one thing for the Egyptians to believe Anne Patterson is evil, but Washington surely can see what is really going on. Washington should not punish Anne Patterson for Egyptian escapism, fantasy, and xenophobia.”

What the quoted official is saying here rings true. But is it any less true of Americans than of Egyptians? Isn’t this simply human nature. We need only to look about us, keep our ears open, listen to the talk show pundits. Millions of Americans still believe such egregious distortions of the truth (?) as 9/11 was the work of George Bush,  Princess Diana was murdered by the royal family, the moon landing was a hoax, and Pearl Harbor was allowed to happen.

And furthermore there are probably more conspiracy theories now than ever before, simply because there are more people and more outlets for people’s opinions. Perhaps only in science do conspiracy theories seem to have little of no place. Elsewhere they are obviously running unchecked.

In any case it seems that Ambassador Patterson is about to become the victim of one such theory, or at least a falsification of the truth of what happened, it being held that she led an American effort to stop the liberal reformers from overthrowing President Morsi.

Do the conspiracy theorists believe that it was somehow in our interest, within our power even, and that we were conspiring to keep Morsi President? That we wanted to keep him in office and were therefore blocking the efforts of the Egyptian military to depose him? Well it’s a theory.

“Many in the Egyptian opposition regard her as the person responsible for America’s close embrace of Islamists in Egypt. During the protests that led to the fall of Morsi’s government, her face, crossed out with a red X, became the symbol for many Egyptians of what they saw as U.S. discouragement of their efforts.”

A photograph of U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson is burned outside the Ministry of Defense in Cairo, Egypt, on June 28, 2013. (Keith Lane/MCT, via Getty)

So is Anne Patterson a victim of Egyptian escapism,  fantasy and xenophobia? In any case, if it were true, that she tried to keep Morsi in power, why should she be held at fault? She was probably only following orders, as the messenger of her own government’s escapism? fantasy? if not xenophobia, certainly her/our government’s failure to see the reality of what was happening in Egypt.

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