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Thursday, November 28, 2013

'Democracy'...

... you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

With apologies to the film, 'The Princess Bride' for the opening line of this post, there are those in the US who seem to take for granted the blessings of liberty they enjoy, and who are blissfully (or perhaps willfully) unaware of the sad alternatives that exist elsewhere in the world.

I saw the following banner ad paid for by 'The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee', on the New York Times website this morning, and it made my blood run cold:

Banner
                   [click banner to go to the site which paid for it]

As someone who lives in a country where a political party was banned / outlawed simply because of the distance between its positions and those of the mainstream*, I am deeply troubled to see anyone in the US trying to stifle political debate through means that smack of Bolshevism.

Radicalism (of any sort) is troublesome and alarming to the mainstream.  It's meant to be!  But if radicals can garner enough support to work, or even game the existing political system... it doesn't necessarily mean the system is broken and needs fixing.  It usually just means that a new voice is emerging that must be reckoned with (within the existing system); for good or for bad.

After all, much of what was considered politically radical a generation ago is solidly mainstream today.  We recently marked the somber anniversary of JFK's assassination.  John F. Kennedy was a social progressive, but was far more conservative on defense and foreign relations issues than most current Republicans (and even Tea Party members).  I honestly can't think where in the US political spectrum he would find a comfortable home if he were still alive today.

The following quote is equally true of books and political parties:

โ€œBooks won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure way against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is freedom. The surest path to wisdom is liberal education.โ€

โ€• Alfred Whitney Griswold

One of the truly terrible things (IMHO) about Israeli politics today is that the discourse is fraught with attacks on opposing ideologs rather than presenting reasonable alternatives to opposing ideologies.

I really hope that the banner ad on the Times website was some sort of political joke and not truly sponsored by 'The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee'.  If not, it might be time for the Democratic party to take a long, hard look at the definition of their name.

 

*  I am in no way defending the ideas professed by the banned 'Kach' party in Israel.  I am simply saying that a democracy (or republic) shouldn't ban ideas or parties.  It should produce a range of ideas, politicians and parties so rich and diverse with viable alternatives that human nature will naturally ignore and/or marginalize the truly dangerous/evil ones... and let the existing laws take care of any that truly stray into illegal territory.

Posted by David Bogner on November 28, 2013 | Permalink

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Banning a political movement does not destroy. All it does is turn an overt operation into a covert one.

But you knew that, didn't you?

Posted by: antares | Nov 29, 2013 7:54:18 AM

I will never forget the words of Chaim Ramon on Nightline after Rabin's assassination: "This is a democracy, you are either with us or we will crush you"

Posted by: Raz | Dec 1, 2013 1:54:06 AM

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