Monday, May 23, 2016

Mesmerized by Elections, the NJ Star-Ledger Forgot that Tyranny is Tyranny

Proponents of democracy are obligated to endorse any governmental action, as long as it is an elected government. This is the case regarding Egypt. As the New Jersey Star-Ledger editorialized in In Egypt, are we fighting terror, or fueling it?:

What we feared all along in Egypt is coming true: Islamists who used peaceful, democratic means to get their leader elected, only to see him forcibly deposed [by the Egyptian military], are increasingly picking up guns instead.

But what did the “peaceful, democratic” Islamists intend to do? Use their governmental powers to impose Sharia totalitarianism at the point of a legalized gun.

There is no question that the military leadership is not a rights-respecting regime. Neither would any Islamist regime be. Yet the Star-Ledger only condemns the Egyptian crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, which backs Sharia government. The Star-Ledger relies on a hollow distinction between the two in criticizing the Obama Administration:

The U.S. government decided in recent months to to end a suspension of hundreds of millions of the annual $1.3 billion in American military aid to Egypt, which we had cut off in the wake of the 2013 military coup. That now makes us complicit in the regime's repression. . .

Apparently, it’s OK for the U.S. to be complicit in Islamic repression, as long as  the Islamist repressors are elected. Would the Star-Ledger support a Christian theocracy in America if this country’s Christian majority were not constitutionally forbidden to vote to establish one?

I left these comments:

Keep in mind that the elected Islamist government immediately began establishing a theocratic dictatorship, making every non-Muslim a second class citizen, at best. That’s why the military stepped in.

There is no difference between a “peaceful, democratic” Islamist regime and a military dictatorship. Tyranny is tyranny, whether elected or not. Democracy unconstrained by constitutional protections for individual rights and equality under the law is no better in principle than any other kind of dictatorship. Our Founding Fathers went out of their way to prevent precisely what the elected Islamists attempted to do in Egypt; the establishment of religious tyranny by governmental law.

This is not to say that we should be pouring American tax dollars into Egypt. We shouldn’t, no matter who is in charge.

But neither should we be excusing any government just because it was elected. Our obsession with the right to vote to the exclusion of the more fundamental rights of life, liberty, property, and equality under the law has backfired big time in the Middle East.

As Ralph Peters observed about America’s approach to the Middle East and elsewhere, “Mesmerized by elections, we forgot freedom.” Before any of us can credibly criticize the Egyptian government, we must come to the realization that democracy doesn’t equal freedom or justice. But many Americans have themselves forgotten or evaded that truth.

Related Reading:

Rights and Democracy

1 comment:

Mike Kevitt said...

Our obsession with the right to vote (democracy) to the exclusion of more fundamental rights is backfiring here in the U.S., too, but just slower. It has been going on a long time and it still has a little ways to go yet, but we're getting there and it's getting close. It's just the specific form of totalitarian dictatorship that's not certain yet. It could well be a religious, probably Christian, dictatorship. The Founding Fathers went out of their way to prevent that, but we might have to go still farther to prevent, or to reverse, it. The Founder's efforts apply to ALL forms of dictatorship. And words must be backed by action.