Friday, February 04, 2011

Things Dictators Fear

Today in a post on her blog, "The Anhcoress", Elizabeth Scalia makes the point  that Dictators fear Art.

"Great art flourishes when people are free – when they are permitted to tap into the Godspark that resides within them, and this is true, even if they must work within some sort of guideline or restriction. ...Art only dies when the human spirit has been subjugated and trampled on, and submission has become a second-nature."

To read her whole essay click here.

The events in Egypt make clear several more things that Dictators fear. Non-Violent Human Rights Marches, Free Press and Solidarity also stir up the evil in the hearts of dictators.

The human rights marches in Egypt were clearly structured to be non-violent following the practices of the worlds greatest human rights leaders. Notable among these are Lech Walesa, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Gandhi. It is notable that this list covers four different continents in their application and four similar yet different human rights issues. All of them were opposed by the powerful and entrenched interests in their countries. Also notable was that when the protection of  those rights were achieved the respective countries moved to form a democratic  governments or opened their democracy to a participation by millions more humans in civil and economic life. 

Lech Walesa, of course, is a Catholic. Both He and Nelson Mandela went on to be elected to lead their countries after their campaigns were successful. Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King were assassinated but both of their efforts resulted in great changes human rights in their countries. In the US two more Catholic have made great use of Non-Violent human rights tactics. They are Dorothy Day, in opposition to the nuclear arms race and Nellie Gray in support of the rights of human life in the womb.

It is also clear that the presence of domestic and international press is identified by Egypt's dictator as a major enemy in his plans to continue to deny basic freedom and civil participation to his people. Fortunately many young people in Egypt have been educated in the US of by US teachers in their own country and they understand the importance of transparent news to their rights. The press was welcomed and encouraged by the human rights march. Now we clearly see the response of the dictator in the beating, arresting and harassing of the press in order to silence them.

The greatest modern examples of solidarity are probably the efforts of the Poles under Lech Walesa and an organization of workers known as "solidarity" and the amazing solidarity across racial and economic barriers achieved by Nelson Mandela. Both our current President and his predecessor have spoken strongly for democracy as the means to achieve human rights and peace in the world, particularly in the Middle East. One tried to do it using war at a terrible cost to us and to the people of Iraq and while a form of democracy had been established there it is not yet clear that human rights will be protected in the long run. Our current President , so far, has taken the road of solidarity by expressing our support for the freedom and rights of all peoples.

So far I would place my bets on solidarity rather than war. The success of John Paul II and Lech Walesa in regard to Poland and Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu in South Africa bodes well for this intuition. We do need to see, soon however, the Egyptian leaders that can pick up this challenge. 

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