Logos Pathos Ethos

February 23, 2011

I was at a meeting yesterday with my brothers when I met Khaled.  We were talking about Mona El Shazly’s episode with the three members of the Armed Forces’ Supreme Council. When Khaled said “Didn’t they make you think Logos, Pathos, Ethos?”.

I had not thought about it before, but Khaled was right. They absolutely did.

Major General Mohamed Al Assar was the one sitting on the left. He was logos. He barely ever smiled throughout the whole discussion and every other word he would say ‘mesh keda?’ or ‘isn’t that so?’.  He appealed to reason most often.

Major General Mokhtar Al Molla was the one in the middle.  He was pathos. He smiled all the time. And such a heartwarming smile too. In fact, his smile and general mannerisms prompted my dad to exhale in contentment muttering “there is something comforting about this man’s face” and prompted my brothers and I to burst out laughing at the completely random and seemingly inappropriate comment. Major General Al Molla was the one who made statements as a citizen and not in his official capacity. He appealed to people’s emotions and was easy to identify with.

Major General Mamdooh Shahin was the one on the right. He was Ethos. He appealed to the law incessantly to establish the Supreme Council’s credibility and explain the order of things. He cited the law so often that El Shazly had to repeatedly remind him that the audience might not be familiar with the law or comfortable with its terminology.

I have to admit I am one of the people who were comforted and convinced of the Armed Forces’ candid and conscientious cooperative administration. I was convinced because they used the three main rhetoric techniques and used them well. They made rational, emotional, and authoritative legal appeals to rebut the many arguments (and minor attacks even) launched by independent opposition writer Wael El Ebrashy and the 25th Coalition representative, Shady Harb.

One of the main criticisms directed against the Armed Forces is their tardiness in responding to the revolutionaries’ demands. Today is the 23rd of February. Mubarak stepped down on the 11th. It hasn’t even been two weeks yet. Not to mention that I am completely convinced with their explanation of wanting to work according to due process of the law. And rule of law takes time.

When Mubarak was in power and he insisted on working according to the law, I was one of the people who conformed to the Screw That viewpoint. He has been violating and ignoring altogether the law for 30 years to come now, when we want to overturn the system, and insist on abiding the law?  It did not make sense coming from Mubarak and immediately raised suspicion.

But the Armed Forces are not Mubarak. They are genuinely trying to abide by the law. As they should. Their adherence to the law does not and should not put them under suspicion.

It is not ideal and I wish there was a faster way to penalize culprits, but truth of the matter is, working by the law takes time. And we want to work by the law when prosecuting transgressors. We must work by the law. Because doing to them what they did to us, justifies their behavior and makes it right.

I will make an analogy that might appear silly, but I do think it is a relevant example. Remember Dark Night, the latest Batman movie, and the Joker’s social experiment? The one with the two ships and the two groups of people, whichever one pushes the button first kills the other ship, but gets to live? The point was to make a group of citizens perform an evil act, that the Joker would have done himself had he been in that situation, to prove his point that all people are like him. That all people are evil.

We are now undergoing a similar social experiment. The people seem to be asking the Armed Forces to simply round up all those people that the opposition say are corrupt, regardless of whether or not there is incriminating evidence or not. (I am not saying that there is no evidence, we know there is. But where is it?). We do not want to start off on the wrong foot with our new promising era of lawfulness and rectitude.

And this brings me to my final point. I did not go to Tahrir yesterday and am not going to Tahrir next Friday. I no longer believe we should. My friend and I were personally subjected to sexual harassment last Friday as one creep of a man pressed up against us. Something that would have been very unlikely, if not impossible, to have happened in the early Tahrir days.

Moreover, it is still a security risk and puts more unnecessary stress on the Armed army’s forces.  If violence breaks outs, the army might not be able to act and we might have a February 2nd rerun. This is all the more relevant with today’s Ministry of Interior bursting into flames.

The Armed Forces, ever since the beginning of the revolution, did not ask of us anything. I tried to think of a specific demand, before their call to stop demonstrating and gathering in Tahrir, and I couldn’t. This is their one request and out of respect to the law and recognition of their efforts, I believe we should give our assent and go back to normal life. Eventually we are going to have to and I am starting to think that maybe people are clinging on to Tahrir utopia for sentimental reasons? I am not making  a statement, I am merely speculating.  If I am mistaken and there are valid reasons that I am missing, reasons that are not just emotionally-provoked (pathos), but are also rational (logos) and mindful of the law (ethos), please let me know what they are and I will be the first to join the rest in Tahrir.

Until then, if the people’s reason for gathering in the millions in Tahrir ever Friday is to send a message to the Armed Forces, then I say, message sent.

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