LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Democracy needs an open debate
September 16, 2008 · Updated 4:41 PM
To the editor:
It used to be that when we criticized the existence of police states which curbed individual rights, instilled fear in the populace, and often resorted to violence, we would be discussing countries thousands of miles away and not at all like us. You know, the KGB in the Soviet Union, Tiananmen Square and Tibet in China, the SS in Germany, Brazil ... the list is long.
We could do this with the smug understanding that we had freedom of speech in this country and were free to protest whenever we chose. This would never happen to us!
Guess what, it is happening to us! Hundreds of people were arrested at both political conventions, the vast majority of them simply trying to peacefully bring awareness to the growing inequities in this country. There is evidence to suggest that in St. Paul at the Republican Convention, the feds targeted certain members of the press with preemptive arrests because they didn’t like the fact that they were providing an alternative view to the mainstream press. The arresting officers may have been local, but they were being directed from Washington, D.C.
One of the groups arrested was a video collective from NYC who had exposed police misconduct at the last RNC. Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now” and two of her producers were arrested with no provocation, and roughed up badly. I’ve seen videos of the arrests and they are truly chilling!
The militaristic, heavy-handed tactics used in response to largely unprovoked situations should instill fear into the hearts of us all. Sadly, in-depth coverage of these events has been scant or absent in the mainstream press.
When did the expression of a difference of opinion in this country become a criminal offense? When differences of opinion cease to be tolerated, Democracy can’t survive. How can we justify waging pre-emptive war on Iraq in order to instill Democracy when we are losing it at home?
Perhaps a hard look at ourselves is in order before we smugly condemn other countries and intervene at will throughout the world under the guise of Democracy.