Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves

Protecting Democracy Comes Before Promoting Faith

Consider the situation in Turkey. There are radical Islamic groups intent on using the democratic process to vote in an Islamic state that would then throw away the ladder and abolish democracy, replacing it with theocracy. What should be done about this is not at all obvious. If the people democratically vote to demolish democracy, isn’t this just like a club voting itself out of existence? It would be the will of the majority, after all. In Algeria, harsh measures were taken in 1992 to avoid just such a democratic self-annihilation, with a vicious civil war resulting. In Turkey, such a calamity has been averted, or at least postponed. In 1996, an Islamic party won control, but the vigorous secularist reaction soon led to the resignation of the prime minister. A moderate Islamic party is now in power, and it has wisely restrained itself from any attempt to impose Islam on the nation, committing itself to preserving the secularism of the state.

In the United States, the problem is no less real for being less dramatic: There are many deeply religious people who believe that they may democratically impose more and more of their creed on the nation, by simply exercising their First Amendment rights to free expression and creating thereby a climate of opinion that renders opposition by secularists politically ineffective. This is a grave danger to democracy, more subversive, in fact, than anything Al Qaeda threatens.

Many of us believe that American democracy is the best hope of the world, that it provides the most secure and reliable–though hardly foolproof–platform on the planet for improving human welfare. If it tumbles, the whole world is in deep trouble. We therefore put the securing of American democracy–America’s secular democracy, with separation of church and state–at the very top of our list of priorities.

That has always been the weak link in our democratic framework, that like those extremists in Turkey some group would use democracy to undermine democracy. I have lost count at this point of the conversations, web comments, and other forums where people have simply stated that since this is America the “majority rules”. That is not what our system of government is on any level. I suspect that when those that believe in majority rule listen to their favorite politician take the oath of office they hear, but do not listen. Elected officials are forbidden to pass laws that violate the Constitution. When they endorse religion- try to legislate religion such as the Faith Based Initiative does, that is a violation of the Constitution regardless of whether the majority of people support it. James Madison warned us about factions of citizens banning together to undermine democracy in Federalist No. 10,

“I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent interests of the community.”

America’s religious Right, the christianists ( not to be confused with Christians) are such a faction. Bin Laden and his predecessors can kill a few of us now and then, but it is almost laughable that he would be considered a threat to democracy, yet the christianists, by using the freedom afforded them under our democracy are very much a threat.

This is one of those stories that made me laugh not because it is funny, but because it is so absurd, Joint Chiefs Advise Change In War Strategy

The nation’s top uniformed leaders are recommending that the United States change its main military mission in Iraq from combating insurgents to supporting Iraqi troops and hunting terrorists, said sources familiar with the White House’s ongoing Iraq policy review.

President Bush and Vice President Cheney met with the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff yesterday at the Pentagon for more than an hour, and the president engaged his top military advisers on different options. The chiefs made no dramatic proposals but, at a time of intensifying national debate about how to solve the Iraq crisis, offered a pragmatic assessment of what can and cannot be done by the military, the sources said.

Three years and hundreds of thousands of lives later and George and Dick consult the experts.

As Jerome writes in the preface to this post over at DKos I don’t necessarily agree or endorse every word, but it did point out some interesting facts on the ground in Iraq, An Answer for Iraq

We have previously shown benign neglect for the Iraqi oil and passed the responsibility to the British. They outsourced it to a British security company. In 2004 it hired a paramilitary Oil Protection Force controlled by Sunnis. Shiites retaliated by infiltrating the OPF in 2005 and killing began. Further sectarian fighting for the oil can be stopped and high security provided for oil production by redeploying about 20% of American troops to the “Enclave”: an isolated, easily defended, desert area next to the Kuwait border and the Persian Gulf that produces 71% of the oil and controls most exports.

Did the Joint Chiefs point this out to the pretend Commander-in-chief on their little visit?

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.  ~Abraham Lincoln

He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself.  ~Thomas Paine