Posted by: Jim | January 31, 2005

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The Brass Knuckles of Democracy, Pt. II


An Iraqi woman shows that she has just voted. Posted by Hello

I’ll tell you what, it’s hard to argue with the images coming out of Iraq right now. I must admit I’m filled with mixed emotions.

Aside from the fact that 9 billion war dollars are unaccounted for, I’ve never been a fan of our campaign in Iraq. And frankly, I’m not terribly trusting of the US’s media correspondants in Iraq either. And I still think GWB is a big stupid jerk.

But wow, there is so much that I like in the news of Iraq these past few days. Lots of images of people voting with tearful joy. Old men and women getting carted to the polls by their grandchildren, and by their donkeys.

And the women are voting! The woman in the picture held up her index finger to proudly show her ink stain. I feel certain that she also held up her middle finger as a subtle message to her erstwhile misogynistic controllers who are convulsing with fear over the fact that she is now allowed to have a voice in government.

That’s all good. It’s great in fact. Still, it’s hard to imagine such deeply entrenched paradigms in the Arab world could be toppled in just two short years. I must remind myself that all these images are taken of the people who braved life and limb to vote. There were lots of Iraqis who sat at home and didn’t vote. Some were protesting American influence. Some were women who listened to their husbands instead of their conscience. Some were Sunnis who didn’t couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a Shiite or a loser. Some were just afraid of getting blown to bits.

And meanwhile, the rest of the Arab world is scoffing. Some of the accounts I’ve read imply that they scoff out of dread. Maybe so, but hopefully their democracy won’t come at the price paid by Iraq.

This is all very huge. Time will reveal all. It’s too soon to determine. But it’s not too soon to hope.

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