Skip to main content

Democratic State

Democratic State - by Lee Smith; Tablet Magazine
Someone else thinks like I do. Here is an article arguing that Israel could serve as a democratic example for the now emerging (we hope and pray!) democracies in the Arab world. Even Tom Friedman noted in his most recent New York Times column:
The Arab TV network Al Jazeera has a big team covering Israel today. Here are some of the stories they have been beaming into the Arab world: Israel’s previous prime minister, Ehud Olmert, had to resign because he was accused of illicitly taking envelopes stuffed with money from a Jewish-American backer. An Israeli court recently convicted Israel’s former president Moshe Katsav on two counts of rape, based on accusations by former employees. And just a few weeks ago, Israel, at the last second, rescinded the appointment of Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant as the army’s new chief of staff after Israeli environmentalists spurred a government investigation that concluded General Galant had seized public land near his home. (You can see his house on Google Maps!) This surely got a few laughs in Egypt where land sales to fat cats and cronies of the regime that have resulted in huge overnight profits have been the talk of Cairo this past year. When you live right next to a country that is bringing to justice its top leaders for corruption and you live in a country where many of the top leaders are corrupt, well, you notice.
If you love Israel you of course wish there were different stories, but nonetheless it is the warts that sometimes make you most appreciate your blessings. The essence of democracy is often realized in critique. When we succeed in holding even the most powerful to the same standard of justice and law as every other person we offer the best evidence of a vibrant democracy. This is why I was proud to be an American when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church. I of course find the content of their speech abhorrent. How could anyone celebrate the death of another, especially someone who was killed when defending this country? How could anyone willfully inflict such pain on a grieving parent? Nonetheless they are entitled to peacefully express their opinions (even their most stupid opinions). I wish they kept silent especially in the face of such unimaginable grief, but this is what democracy is about. And if you want to really see free speech in action then go take a taxi in Israel. Join the debate at an Israeli grocery store. To be unafraid of criticism and critique, argument and debate, are what we must share with the world. Never fear those who disagree with you! Never try to silence those who express views different from your own! You can see these ideas in action in Israel--and here in this great land. Take heart protesters!  Take note dictators!


JJones said…
How dare those legal and social commentators, who never miss an opportunity to praise the Jehovah's Witnesses for stretching the boundaries of the First Amendment, now condemn the Westboro Baptists, whose actions in our time are no more outrageous than were the actions of the Jehovah's Witnesses during World War 2.

During WW2, Jehovah's Witnesses specifically targeted the homes of parents and spouses of wounded and killed soldiers -- knocked on those doors -- and told wives, mothers, and fathers that their husbands and sons had died not only needlessly and pointlessly, but in support of a government which GOD considered His enemy and would soon destroy.

During WW2, Jehovah's Witnesses would show up at War Bond Rallies and spew the same garbage.

1940s Jehovah's Witnesses would park sound trucks across the street from public schools and during recess and blast the school campus with pre-recorded sermons decrying the Pledge of Allegiance. There were also instances of JWs going inside school buildings and passing out anti-Pledge literature to children in the hallways.

JWs also parked sound trucks outside of churches during ongoing services and blasted churches with pre-recorded sermons decrying church teachings.

JWs carried phonographs with pre-recorded sermons door-to-door decrying patriotism, Christianity, etc. During WW2, a WW1 veteran and then Deputy Sheriff ran two JWs out of his gasoline station after they started playing such a recording. One of the JW "pioneers" pulled a pistol and murdered the Deputy.

Post WW2, the WatchTower Society made a point of renting for conventions those facilities which had been named or renamed in honor of the WW2 veterans (Memorial Coliseum, Veterans Stadium, etc. etc.) so as to poke their fingers in the eyes of returning veterans and the cause for which they had fought, been wounded, or died.

1940s Jehovah's Witnesses would specifically target urban Catholic neighborhoods with door-to-door sermons and literature which defamed the Pope and other Catholic hierarchy, Catholic theology, etc.

The JWs of WW2 were the Westboro Baptists of today.

Make up your minds, commentators.