Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Listen to the locals!

I just read this article by Rami Khoury, who I really like. He's Jordanian but has been writing for Lebanon's Daily Star, an English newspaper.

From my experience working on projects in Jordan to promote social and political participation, it's so true: people are not turned on by democracy with a capital D. The word is too heavy and has way too much association with America. Unfortunately, America now only equals Bush and his plans to promote democracy though waging war (with plenty dead and tortured Iraqis in its wake).

People are, however, really into the nitty gritty stuff that makes for a democratic society. Freedom of speech is key.

A few years ago, Samer was painting in his studio downtown. He heard a ruckus outside and walked out on the balcony to see people who had been demonstrating against the war in Iraq getting the crap beaten out of them. The most disturbing thing to him was that just random people walking the other direction were being picked off by policemen and seriously battered.

He wouldn't have believed it if he hadn't seen it. Once back home, he was so outraged that he was dying to do something about it. Tell someone. Anything, really. But even the most simple act of writing a letter to the newspaper was completely out of the question.


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