Comedy Central star Jon Stewart got on the right side of the free speech debate this week as he mocked Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood for trying to silence a fellow political satirist.
Stewart could have acted sooner had he listened to conservatives all along. They’ve been worried about the impact of the Muslim Brotherhood’s grip on Egypt for months. It took the group’s attempt to jail a fellow comic to drag Stewart off the bench. And while bully for him for speaking out, Stewart should have been doing so all along.
Could it be that the Muslim Brotherhood’s ascension came on President Barack Obama’s watch, convincing him to hold his tongue against wiser judgment?
Late last month, Egyptian officials sought to arrest comedian Bassem Youssef, known as the “Egyptian Jon Stewart,” for daring to mock Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi.
That stirred Stewart, who used his nightly perch on The Daily Show to rightfully mock those trying to silence Youssef.
“What are you worried about, Mr. President – the power of satire to overthrow the status quo?” Stewart deadpanned. “Just so you know, there’s been a grand total of, uh, zero toppled governments we’ve brought about.”
Stewart’s style of comedy is meant to hold his own country’s powerful accountable for their actions, something he’s done only fitfully over the last four-plus years. He’d rather smite the party out of power for ideological reasons.
We’ll applaud Stewart all day long when he does the right thing, which is precisely what he did this week in the wake of the Egyptian censorship attempt. Let’s see if Stewart will do the same the next time the Obama administration tries to attack Rush Limbaugh or The Drudge Report in order to silence respectful debate.