Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bringing freedom, even temporarily

Politics, fair warning:

RJ Lippincott makes a point about President Bush's visit to Iraq. Apparently a protester threw two shoes at him.

Today in Iraq an individual stood up and committed a dramatic act of protest.

The protester is still alive. He was not killed, he was not tortured, he was not imprisoned, and as I write these words he is a free man.

Odds are pretty good that at the moment he was taking off his shoes, the protester knew for certain that when all was said and done, he would neither be killed, nor tortured, nor imprisoned.

This is the measure of our success in Iraq. That someone felt free to speak out against the leader of a powerful nation without fear of immediate (and possibly final) retribution. The Iraqis are still working the bugs out, and probably will be for years to come. They'll ask us to leave soon, and maybe have some setbacks. But even if only for a short while, they got to practice freedom instead of keeping your head down, instead of going along to get along, instead of fearing to take initiative because if the big boss didn't like what you did, you'd be killed (and possibly all your family along with you). Instead of waiting for orders or to be told what to think, somebody thought for himself and acted on it.

This will be President Bush's legacy. And it's a good legacy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not arguing the basic idea of whether or not there may be more or less freedom there than previously, but I do not think that the shoe-throwing incident is a good example of it, simply in that speaking out against the President of the United States was not dangerous in Iraq before the invasion either. The real measure would be to see if, once people have pulled out and tehre is a stable independent government in place, if one could throw one's shoes at *them* and feel safe.

I watched a documentary the other day about the Heavy Metal scene in Baghdad, which, at the time that they started filming the movie, basically came down to one band, Acrassacauda. The bits about metal were not necessarily that interesting, but the bits about their daily lives were incredible, and did not really reflect freedom to speak out without worrying about being killed at all. Freedom to speak out against the U.S., sure, but you could not show yourself to be an open supporter of the U.S. without risking being killed, even to the extent that the band members refused to talk to the filmmakers on their cell phone if they were out in public because they said that if you were overheard speaking English on a cell phone in public, you could be killed.