Tuesday, January 04, 2005


Isaiah 58:6 (King James Version)

“6Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?”

The Iraqi elections are less than a month away now. As the day approaches there are a couple of discordant drumbeats. First, there are the terrorists who are doing all they can to derail freedom and democracy. And, second, the mainstream media and their cohorts in the “illuminati” are now warning of dire consequences unless the elections are postponed. Their reasoning – “the Middle East and the Arab world is not ready for freedom and democracy.”

It is, unfortunately, a familiar historical refrain. Natan Sharansky, former prisoner of the Soviet security apparatus, in his recent book “The Case for Democracy – The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror” notes that many “wise and learned” men have said the same about others that our current troop of doomsayers are saying about the people of Iraq. Arnold Toynbee, for example, had the following to say about the people of Italy:

“No parliamentarian can close his eyes to the significance of the portent of Fascism in post-war Italy; for Italy lies near the heart of our western world; she has made one of the greatest single contributions made by any country to our common western civilization; and in the nineteenth century her adoption of Anglo-French parliamentarianism seemed to be the essence of her national resurrection. In these circumstances, her repudiation of “democracy” (in our conventional use of the term) has made it an open question whether this political plant can really strike permanent root anywhere but its native (American – my emphasis added) soil.”

In 1943, Sharansky notes that a “scholar” named Emil Ludwig had this to say about Germany and the German people:

“ To go back and create a liberal Germany, as most emigrants from Germany want to do, is likewise impossible. It did not succeed the first time. How can anyone think that after these new outbursts the Germans can become democrats overnight? Is there a democratic serum which one can inject and thus immunize a people against militarism, against a desire for world domination, or passion for submission to superiors in uniform? Such a serum has not been invented.”

The cast of characters changed in the late eighties when the Soviet Union was collapsing under the weight of its own evil. They picked up where their esteemed predecessors had left off. Seeing what Sharansky calls “bumps on the road to democracy,” they made statements like this one, published in the “New Statesman:”

“What conjures up the Gulag for many of us is for many Russians a present comfort. KGB members were an elite successfully promoted in the post-Stalin years as protection of the fatherland rather than as terrorists of the population. Now, the memory of a time in which the KGB was the backbone of order is precious.”

Shanarnsky wryly notes that if this type of “scholarship” were carried to its logical conclusion it would mean that African-Americans, unemployed and free in our society, would prefer a job under the whip of a slave-master. The thought is so utterly foolhardy that it is even beyond contempt.

I think it might also mean that a society that condoned slavery, like ours, wouldn’t be worthy of democracy. The nay-sayers of the 1850’s would have looked at America and concluded that slavery would be a permanent fixture on the American landscape.

Many the same sorts of things were said of the Japanese in the post-World War II period. Here’s an excerpt from “Foreign Affairs” in 1941:

“We should be deceiving ourselves if we thought that the present day Japanese are fundamentally opposed to autocratic forms of government and are waiting for the day when they can reverse the current political trend and set up democratic institutions.”

I wonder what these critics would think of Japan and the Japanese people today. Contrary to the opinions of these “highly esteemed” scholars, Japan is one of the most vibrant democracies in the world. It’s even more interesting to note the people of Japan, have contributed more than any other nation in the disaster relief effort underway in South Asia. That generosity and compassion, dear reader, are the hallmarks of a free and democratic society.

Now, in our time, it’s the Middle East’s turn to be roasted on the fiery coals of these blind guides. They note that there are twenty-two Arab states and not one of them is a democracy. They further note that Islam has no solid doctrine of separation of church and state. Their "learned" assumption? It’s simple. Democracy and freedom will never work in Iraq and the Middle-East because the people are content with the tyrants they have. And, if they’re satisfied, we ought to be satisfied too. As Lyndon Johnson famously put it about the despots leading most Arab countries in his day (and our day as well), “They may be sons of bitches, but they’re our sons of bitches.”

Have you ever seen such altruism in your life?

I’ll say it categorically. The nay-sayers are wrong! They were wrong in the thirties and forties. They were wrong in the eighties. And they’re wrong now! In fact, I don’t think they’ve ever been right.

Democracy and freedom work. They work because it is what people want. No man or woman in their right mind would prefer despotism to them. The tyrants may be able to get people to say all the “right things” through torture, fear, and intimidation. They may be able to fool the journalist who thinks like the learned nay-sayer. But history has shown that despotism cannot stand in the light of freedom and it has shown that the despot will never succeed. Once that light is turned on, the tyrant has no chance.

That’s what democracy and freedom are all about. The model that America has set before the world works. It effects change because it affords freedom and promotes the responsibility that makes social progress possible. It’s unwieldy, and as Donald Rumsfeld has said, it is sometimes messy. Bit it works!

The American model is the envy of the world. It’s been replicated in the countries that the doomsayers have consistently said were not ready for freedom or democracy. It will work in Iraq too!

In 1838 Abraham Lincoln spoke about the need for America to be wary of despots, men whose designs for power and glory, men who held freedom and democracy in contempt. His words are instructive for our time as well:

“What! Think you these places would satisfy an Alexander, a Caesar, a Napoleon? – Never! Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored. – It sees not distinction in adding story to story, upon the monuments of fame, erected to the memory of others. It denies that it is glory enough to serve under any chief. It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious. It thirsts and burns for distinction; and if possible, it will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves, or enslaving freemen.”

There’s one more thing. Freedom will work because, as George Bush so eloquently put it in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, “Freedom is not America’s gift to the world; it is God’s gift to humanity.”

His words are straightforward, and I believe them. We cannot afford, at this crucial time, to adopt the patently racist view that, because of who they are, the people of Iraq and the people of the Middle-East are not capable (some even say they’re not worthy) of freedom and democracy. There is only one way we can overcome these nay-sayers. We must serve freedom’s cause. As Holy Writ puts it, we must submit ourselves:

1 Peter 2:13-16 (New International Version)

“for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a coverup for evil; live as servants of God.”

Time will vindicate freedom in this cause as it has every cause since the beginning of human history. We must serve God by serving the cause of freedom. In doing so, we will, in the end, silence the nay-sayers.


Bob said...

I couldn't have said it any better. You are an inspiration. I have been reading you since October and I really enjoy your Blog.

Feeble Knees said...

Phil, it is always a pleasure to read your blog. The historical perspective that you bring to events of today is wonderful. Thank you for working so hard to be an informed and educated voice crying in the wilderness.

Jay said...

Democracy, by its very nature, is a system that must be implemented by the people who are to practice it...it cannot be imported or imposed. While we may wish other parts of the world to engage in this enlightened form of government, history has proven to us that what we wish for a people and what we are able to actually provide them are often very different. The road to hell is paved with the best of intentions.

Anonymous said...

I was sorry to see this post. I have stopped many times to read your words. It was nice to see a conservative who didn't use God as a tool to back his politics. I still think highly of you but I doubt I will read your words again.

This is what, not me or liberals, Riverbend from Baghdad Burning has to say. I read her and other Iraqis in order to know what they feel and think about the situation in their country.

"The elections are set for the 29th. It's an interesting situation. The different sects and factions just can't seem to agree. Sunni Arabs are going to boycott elections. It's not about religion or fatwas or any of that so much as the principle of holding elections while you are under occupation. People don't really sense that this is the first stepping stone to democracy as western media is implying. Many people sense that this is just the final act of a really bad play. It's the tying of the ribbon on the "democracy parcel" we've been handed. It's being stuck with an occupation government that has been labeled 'legitimate' through elections."