Speaking up. That is what America is known for. And we saw hundreds and thousands of examples of people speaking up around the country this weekend. In New York City, Washington D.C. and San Francisco protesters to the Iraqi war walked the streets.
Around the world millions of people protested also. However, while their protests also called for resolution rather than war, they also protested something very different. They protested America.
These other countries have a different perception of what is American. Rather than seeing America as an ideal that promotes each person’s right to use their voice, they see America as a silencer of the voice of people around the world. It is America that the world sees as the country that tells them what will be done. It is America that is seen as the country that is the oppressor.
After Sept. 11, the world cried with the United States. For the first time in many years it was the American people that were seen on television and brought into the homes of foreign citizens. America became the ally, rather than the oppressor. Countries around the world agreed to join the United States in ending terrorism. And for a brief moment there were no oppressors and no hegemony. No one was invincible anymore.
People all over the world have called for an understanding of oppression and hate. They have sought to help the Afghanistan women who had been put into physical and mental bondage by the Taliban state. Efforts have been made to gain a better understanding of the Muslim culture and how it varies.
However, there are consistent messages in all of Muslim community. There are fears of America, its government and its culture. The rift between the Islam World and the Western World has become all the more evident. However, the Bush Administration has failed to deal this rift even now. Instead of truly trying to shake the hold of terrorist organizations by creating an understanding of the West within the Muslim world, Bush has chosen to make the United States the oppressor once again.
By going into Iraq, America is showing the world that it is still the country in power and it will maintain its power by any means, even oppression. While it has been proven that even the United States is not invincible, the Bush Administration has made the choice to make it appear so. Countries around the world, their people and their governments, are not willing to join the United States in becoming part of oppression. They agree that the Iraqi Regime is oppressive and unjust, but risking Iraqi lives and more war requires proof that Iraq has disastrous intentions.
The world is exercising its right to speak up. The average citizen in Europe has told their leaders that they do not want to go to war, and their leaders are listening. A German ambassador has said to the United States that the German government believes in democracy first and foremost, and will exercise its right in a democratic world, by voting against the United States in attacking Iraq, unless more evidence is released.
Where have the American voice and the right to speak and be heard gone? While Bush claims to have the majority of the public on his side, the approval is obviously waning. The American people have not made it clear that they want war. But many of them have made it clear that they do not. Like to the rest of the world, we want more evidence.
The Bush Administration however does not seem to hold the principle of democracy as its goal. Rather than listening to the people of the United States and the world, the Bush Administration is listening to their need to keep America the hegemony. This view is reminiscent of many leaders who have chosen power over democracy in the past. It was this rationale that killed millions in Europe in two world wars. The goal of a government in a democracy should be to listen to all of the people. I hope the Bush Administration listens before it is too late to actually hear the message of democracy, in the United States and around the world.