We, too, born to freedom, and believing in freedom, are willing to fight to maintain freedom. We, and all others who believe as deeply as we do, would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt, on receiving the degree of Doctor of Civil Law from Oxford University, June 19, 1941
Millions of Iraqi citizens demonstrated their position on democracy and freedom yesterday, braving threats of car bombs, mortar attacks, and outright murder to travel - on foot - to polling centers across the country.
At present, precise turnout figures for the 14 million eligible Iraqi voters are unavailable, but the Associated Press reports that election officials said the turnout was higher than the anticipated 57 percent. That means that at least 8 million Iraqi citizens ignored not only the threats to their lives made by "freedom fighters," but also the messages sent by the insurgencies leaders.
"We declare a bitter war against democracy and all those who seek to enact it," Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said in a Jan. 23 Internet recording. "Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion, [and that] is against the Rule of God."
Osama bin Laden declared that anyone who took part in the Iraqi elections "are apostates who should not be prayed over upon their deaths. They cannot inherit, and they must not be inherited from [after their deaths]. Their wives are divorced from them, and they must not be buried in Muslim cemeteries."
These leaders of the violent anti-American faction in Iraq - who have been called insurgents, freedom fighters, rebels, terrorists - have been disavowed by the citizens of Iraq. Regardless of the long struggle ahead required to nurture a democratic Iraq into stability, the people have spoken: theirs is a love of freedom, not fascism. No longer can bin Laden and Zarqawi be considered the heads of the "populist resistance" or the "minutemen" of Iraq. Instead, the people’s overwhelming support for the democratic elections has cast them into a very different - and much more accurate - light: they are terrorists.
Not grassroots organizers of a movement against American imperialism, not the voice of the people who want to throw off the yoke of American expansionism. Their goals are diametrically opposed to the goals of the Iraqi people.
And yet, there are still those who refuse to see the success of the Iraqi elections for what it is. Writers on our own shores feel the need to trivialize what so many Iraqis risked life and limb to accomplish yesterday, to turn it into yet another machination of the Big Bad Bush conspiracy theory.
Take The Nation's John Nichols, for example. In this article, he claims that the entire election has been a "charade." To wit:
That democracy has been denied in Iraq is beyond question. The charade of an election, played out against a backdrop of violence so unchecked that a substantial portion of the electorate-- particularly Sunni Muslims--avoided the polls for reasons of personal safety, featuring candidates who dared not speak their names and characterized by a debate so stilted that the electorate did not know who or what it is electing.
Nichols, of course, ignores the fact that an amazing number of Iraqi voters did turn out for the election, and in doing so slights the risks that they took in order to cast their vote for democracy.
A brief tour through the comments sections of the Democratic Underground reveals even more unconscionable defeatism (however, you've got to be fast, since site moderators are quick to delete "embarrassing" comments or anything from the "opposition"). Thanks to Instapundit for the tip.
For some, no outcome in Iraq will ever be good enough, and no step taken by the current administration will be above reproach.
But in the end, the crying and gnashing of teeth from the western left will amount only to a heap of wasted words and hot air, since the Iraqis themselves have told the world what they want. Every Iraqi citizen with a finger stained in indelible purple ink has stood up against the glorified insurgents and spoken in support of a new era of freedom in Iraq - freedom that has been a direct result of the United States' willingness to give people the ability to rise from their knees and shake off tyranny.