A letter in today’s Boston Globe really struck a nerve with me for its paternalism and racism. Here it is in its entirety since it’s probably not available online anymore.
THE LAST SENTENCE in ‘‘Search for bin Laden narrows’’ (National/Foreign, March 7) is very true: ‘‘Membership in radical Islamic groups, which are committed to fighting what they perceive as US imperialism in the Muslim world, continues to grow.’’ Having done computer-related business for more than 20 years in several Muslim countries, I have observed the frustration they have with our sacred cow—democracy. Whatever led us to think the whole world is ready to embrace democracy? A one-size-fits-all political system is unrealistic. Democracy requires an educated middle-class voting group. I am not convinced Muslim countries even want that.
Look at the African countries after the collapse of colonial development. Attempts to foster foreign philosophies or ‘‘isms’’ on native peoples have always failed. US-, British-, and French-style democracies imposed on Muslim countries have as much chance of succeeding as an apple tree in the Sahara Desert. George Bush wants democracy for Iraq and its neighbors. That is naive. It helps to explain why an ever-growing percentage of our neighbors are viewing us as village idiots.
Democracy is a sacred cow? The ability to live in freedom and liberty is a cultural concept? It reminds me that about 200 years ago people were saying that liberty and democracy were not suitable for a certain other culture—Christendom and Western Civilization. Oh yes, monarchy was the only suitable form of government for Christians because otherwise there would be anarchy and corruption and all that.
Could this guy be any more insulting to Muslims? “Democracy requires an educated middle-class voting group. I am not convinced Muslim countries even want that.” Muslims don’t want to be educated and middle class; they want to remain ignorant and poor?
This is just racism, pure and simple. Freedom, liberty, and democracy are possible for any people and any culture. In fact, some of the regions so ravaged by dictators and radicals today were once prosperous, relatively enlightened, and nearly democratic. Even today, Turkey is an example of an Islamic state with a relatively stable and free democracy. This guy’s letter is just hogwash and rubbish that is probably just written as an anti-Bush sentiment, contradicting his oft-repeated desire to see a free and democratic Iraq.