Monday, September 27, 2004

Two Tyrannies

From Iraq the Model (via Carnival of the Liberated):

But how are we going to reform Islam if we can’t guarantee some minimum level of safety for thinkers? How are we going to do this without freedom of speech?I’m not talking about the danger from a conservative society, as I believe that you can communicate with people and present new ideas in tactful ways without a very serious risk, but I’m talking about the danger that comes from dictators who do not want anyone to think for himself and come up with some new ideas that may disrupt the ‘peace’ they worked so hard to create in their kingdoms. We need to at least remove these tyrants before any reform could be even possible. They won’t accept any change in the curriculum, for instance, that would endanger their positions, and the changes we think about definitely will do that. We have all seen their reaction to the change in Iraq; how terrified they are and how desperately they try to stop the change in Iraq. That should give us an idea of how they are going to deal with it in their own lands.

I agree wholeheartedly that radical change is needed in the governance of the Middle East, thus my support for the Iraq War.

In this situation, I see two basic tyrannies involved. First, the tyranny of the entrenched ruling parties of these countries, which wish to perpetuate their rule indefinitely. Second, there is the grassroots tyranny of the various terror groups, which has rallied many of the common people in the Mid East to their cause with their austere view of religion.

The first of these tyrannies, that of the ruling parties, is the same tyranny seen throughout history, this time under the guise of Islam. They exist for the preservation of there own power, and act as they do because they see totalitarianism and Islamist rhetoric as the surest way of preserving this power. They are not above reform if they believe it will help them retain their absolute stranglehold of power.

What prevents reform is the presence of the second type of tyranny, the tyranny of people willing to subject themselves to strict shariah, either through nostalgic historical escapism or in horror at the moral decadence perceived in the West. Even in liberal democracies, this second type of tyranny is present. For example, read about the reaction that Ayaan Hirsi Ali received when she wrote a documentary about the hidden violence toward many Muslim women:

While the debate goes on, so do the attacks on Ms. Hirsi Ali. A rap song, played on some local radio stations, calls for her death. Chat rooms and e-mail messages announce death threats. The police in Rotterdam have just arrested a young Moroccan man whom they charged with sending a death threat to Ms. Hirsi Ali.
The first kind of tyranny can only be ended by militarily deposing those in power, or making the credible threat that such action will be taken. The second type of tyranny can be combated by increasing the number of liberal Islamic voices, as Iraq the Model noted at the beginning of this post, which will happen only when we take on the first kind of tyranny.

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