Sep 29, 2006

Democracy Exported Hits a Snag with a Murder of a Woman

A Hard Lesson In Democracy

The murder of Safia Ama Jan, a few days ago in Afghanistan, was a serious blow to women's rights in that country we "liberated" in 2001 and to which we supposedly exported democracy. Ama Jan fought for the rights of women in a chauvinistic society and she paid for her efforts with her life. You see, democracy isn't something like a car--we build it, you buy it, and you can start driving around. Democracy isn't just a political system, but also an attitude, part of people's culture. If you're in the minority, you don't have to pay with your life because you have a different opinion. Democracy is also a work in progress. Sadly, even in a democratic country the movement isn't always forward--we've seen this several times in our recent history, especially under the regime of el Presidente.

<- An Afghani Sentenced to Death for Being a Christian

The Taliban that killed Ama Jan would like to see their idea of an ideal society everywhere and are willing to kill and die in order to force a crude & intolerant regime on the rest of us. They've found allies even in the camps of their sworn enemies, because feeble minds abound everywhere; these are people who don't know history, are anti-science and anything intellectual, are sauvinists, racists, insensitive to hard-won human rights & liberties. Their power-hungry leaders--often with their own perverse apocalyptic visions and a Taliban-like mentality--are eager to oblige in raising the level of angst, terror and, of course, stupidity. That kuckle-head frat boy attitude resonates well with too many people, Oh yeah, we can beat you up, you blead, we can outblead you, yep, we're tough.

Ama Jan said this two years ago,"This country has had two-and-a-half decades during which both males and females have been left uneducated. You cannot change their minds overnight. We need some time." Sadly, she didn't have any time left. In a society where women are treated like chattel, this sends a message to all those who dare to speak up in dissent to the powers that be. It would've been hard anyway to change the very narrow minds of uneducated people or make the male elites give up some of their privileges. Women who were allocated 25% of the seats in the new Afghani parliament aren't taken seriously; many have been pushed out of government posts or just left politics altogether already. The status of women in a country reveal aplenty about that country.

Today when we look around to find a democratic system, we only find liberal democracies; simply stated, there aren't any other free societies out there! Even most conservatives now have given up on their defense of the Old Regime [ascribed status, religious conformity] and have adopted the liberal ideas of majority rule but with minority rights. Liberalism focuses on the individual as a main actor in politics and economics. But, liberty and rights are necessary conditions in order to progress and achieve. Further, a liberal democracy is the best environment where a person may have the best chance to fulfill his/her own potential.

Democracy is messy because human character varies, and because there are different priorities and opinions. It takes time to cultivate such an environment and promote the commonwealth. Civilizations don't happen overnight. Yet, the bottom line is that the quality of contemporary politics depends on the quality of the people involved.