Al Jazeera Opinion Article: President Obama, say the "D-Word" (democracy)
President Obama, say the 'D-Word' US appears to shy away from talk about democracy in Middle East, despite historic anti-government rallies in ally Egypt. By Mark LeVine January 28, 2011
It's incredible, really. The president of the United States can't bring himself to talk about democracy in the Middle East. He can dance around it, use euphemisms, throw out words like "freedom" and "tolerance" and "non-violent" and especially "reform," but he can't say the one word that really matters: democracy.
How did this happen? After all, in his famous 2009 Cairo speech to the Muslim world, Obama spoke the word loudly and clearly - at least once.
Of course, this was just rhetoric, however lofty, reflecting a moment when no one was rebelling against the undemocratic governments of our allies - at least not openly and in a manner that demanded international media coverage.
Now it's for real.
And "democracy" is scarcely to be heard on the lips of the president or his most senior officials.
Mr President...This is our chance. You came into office saying, you wanted to change the culture of US/Middle East relations? Here is your chance. Stand with the Egyptian people and pressure Mubarak out. This is a historic opportunity for you to show the "arab street" you are different than your predecessor, that we are a different nation. Stand with those, fighting for freedom against a brutal autocratic regime. Do it now, this may be our best, last chance..
Don't fall for the talk. G.W. Bush and Rumsfeld and Cheney were always talking about "democracy" in the Middle East. Human rights is all we should be talking about. It's not our job to promote particular forms of government.
7. Democracy and human rights are not necessarily coterminous
As progressives said about Iraq: the issue is human rights, not promoting democracy. Think about the completely democratically elected National Socialist Party in Germany in the 1930s: the ultimate proof that democracy and human rights are not the same thing.
8. Democratic rights isn't just about elections. It goes way beyond that.
To suggest democracy simply means elections, democratic ones or otherwise, misses the real point and meaning of democratic rights.
What does our Bill of Rights say about elections?
We are taught to think that democracy simply means voting for people. That's a pretty narrow definition which serves the interests of ruling rich who try to hide their power under the guise of democratic elections.
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