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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
This Is What Democracy Doesn't Look Like

Fred A Wilcox • March 2005

Asked what he thought of Western civilization, Mohandas Gandhi replied, "it might be a good idea." What might the man who orchestrated the campaign to drive the British out of Indian think of George W. Bush's efforts to browbeat, bully, threaten, coerce and bomb the world into adopting American-style democracy? Would Gandhi agree that invading soverign nations, killing tens of thousands of innocent people, destroying entire cities, torturing, raping, and murdering prisoners of war is the best way to spread democracy?

Mr. Bush insists that the world must embrace, indeed emulate, American democracy. Perhaps the resident in the White House is unaware that the gap between the rich and poor in America is wider and growing at a faster rate than any country in Europe. Or maybe he doesn't know that our nation has more people in prison per capita, with the possible exception of Russia, than any nation in the world. Mr. Bush doesn't seem to understand that nearly 50 million Americans do not have health insurance; that over 3,000 inmates are sitting on death row, even while DNA evidence continues to exonerate Americans convicted by racist juries and condemned to die by racist judges; that one 1 out of every 5 children in America go to bed hungry; that the war in Iraq is bankrupting the United States; that Americans are suffering from a cancer epidemic caused by toxic chemicals in our food, air, and water supplies.

A genuine people's democracy would never allow its wealthy citizens to keep getting richer while the poor sink ever deeper into debt and despair. A true democracy would not provide brutal dictators with arms and financial support, while condemning courageous people who rise up against oppression. A democratic nation would not allow millions of its citizens to live in squalid, crime-ridden, polluted neighborhoods, while those fortunate enough to earn large sums of money build palatial homes in the suburbs. A democracy would never allow an organization like the National Rifle Association to intimidate people who want to protect their families by taking off the streets.

Mr. Bush and his so-called conservative friends are demanding that Syria remove its troops from Lebanon. Would these champions of freedom agree that it's time for China to leave Tibet? Would they join a campaign to convince the British to get out of Ireland for good? In all of the many years that Israel has been killing Palestinians, bulldozing their houses, jailing and torturing them, building settlements on their land, why haven't those who champion democracy demanded that Israel leave the occupied territories? Mr. Bush and his supporters want Iran to stop working on a nuclear reactor, but would they like to see the Columbian army stop assassinating union leaders, stop murdering innocent peasants, and stop disappearing and torturing those the military suspects of being guerrilla fighters?

In a true democracy, would enormously profitable corporations establish offshore offices in order to avoid paying taxes? Would these same corporations fight all efforts to hold them accountable for polluting the country their multi-millionaire CEOs and their stockholders claim to love? If they truly cared about the United States of America, wouldn't these corporations refuse to send manufacturing jobs to Mexico, China, El Salvador, and other slave labor markets, preferring instead to keep millions of American workers employed?

In a real democracy there would be more than two political parties, joined at the wallet by greed and corruption. No democracy would allow people like Rupert Murdoch to turn readable newspapers into sensational rags good for little more than wrapping one's garbage. In a democracy there would be opposition newspapers, opposition political parties, opposition television and radio stations. There would be open and honest debate within the halls of power, rather than the kind of pseudo discussions that lead to passage of the Patriotic Act, the invasion of Iraq, and most likely future attacks on other nations that resist Mr. Bush's call to democratize, or else.

The real irony in all this is that at the very moment that the Central Intelligence Agency is torturing suspected terrorists, Mr. Bush is demanding that autocratic governments in the Middle East agree to respect human rights. At the very moment when the United States military is occupying Iraq, the United States is ordering Syria to remove its troops from Lebanon. At a time when the Bush administration is planning to build an entire new generation of atomic weapons, the United States is warning Iran and North Korea not to build weapons of mass destruction.

On a grass roots level, Americans do practice democracy, discussing and debating issues of local and sometimes national interest, voting on things that matter to ordinary people. But on a national level democracy is a game played by and for the rich, by and for arms manufacturers, by and for those who wish to purchase a share of the power machine in order to help expand the American empire. To the Cuban people who have suffered terribly from American sanctions, democracy must appear to be a strange, rather sadistic, concept. To Iraqis who watched their children die, 500,000 according to UNICEF, because of American-sponsored sanctions that were supposed to punish Saddam Hussein, democracy must seem like relentless cruelty. To Native Americans living in abject poverty, cold, hungry, abandoned, democracy must feel like a hideous joke played out by the very people who stole their land, slaughtered their children, and who seem determined to punish the victims of their own genocidal crimes.

Mr. Bush and the ideological fanatics who keep him company live in a bubble of self-deceit. If they really want to see what democracy looks like, they should risk (for them this would be a big risk) listening to people who have lived, and continue to live in fear of armies and governments trained and armed by the United States of America. Mr. Bush's worldwide crusade must strike terror into the hearts of people who have seen their loved ones tortured, disappeared, and assassinated, all in the name of democracy.





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

16 March 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

Statement from the Family of Knife Murder Victim Mark 'Mousey' Robinson
Robinson Family, Derry

Power in the Pub
Anthony McIntyre

Why No Arrests? (Whose agenda are we working to)?
TR FitzSimons

McCartneys: how the personal became political
Brendan O'Neill

No Breakthrough
Michael Benson

Hope for Justice
Mick Hall

Provisional Thuggery in Strabane
Des Dalton

Basking in the Glory?
Dr John Coulter

This Is What Democracy Doesn't Look Like
Fred A. Wilcox

Way Beyond Orwell
Eoghan O'Suilleabhain

Aliyah and the Oligarchs
Mary La Rosa

7 March 2005

The Butcher of Derry
Anthony McIntyre

Republican Anger at Criminals on Political Wing
Martin Mulholland, IRPWA

Brian Mór

The Rally for Justice
Sean Smyth

Green Leadership in North Call for a 'Big Conversation'
on a Unified Nationalist/Republican Strategy for the Endgame

John Barry, Green Party

Eoin McNamee's two Troubles novels
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Irish Christians and Africa
Dr John Coulter



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