Agam's Gecko
Friday, December 16, 2005
Inked fingers of freedom
Iraqis voted in uprecedented numbers yesterday, while the terrorist - fascist coalition of anti-freedom fighters failed to disrupt the democratic progress.

"Every inked finger is a bullet in the chest of a terrorist." - Iraqi voter
Photo credit: Pajamas Media

he people of Iraq have outdone themselves once again. Nation-wide voting was carried out for the third time this year, confirming the solid progress the country has made since the current interim parliament was elected in January. The constitutional referendum in October reflected a higher voter participation, sharply reduced terrorist activity and more effective voter security provided by Iraq's own police and military. Yesterday, all these trends continued in the positive direction: another solid increase in voter turnout, particulary in majority Sunni Arab regions with some districts reporting more than 80% participation; practically no opportunities for terrorist / rejectionist / Michael's Minutemen attacks (out of 50-odd attempted attacks nationwide, only 2 lives were lost); a tremendous success for Iraqi security forces, who provided 100% of the election day's on-the-ground security needs -- with multinational forces only in evidence keeping a lookout from the air. By every measure, this historic day was another milestone for the Iraqi people.

But the Iraqis have been meeting every milestone they had set for themselves for quite some time already, and the naysayers have never moderated their defeatism in the least. Last year it was, "Iraq will never be ready for elections in January." Elections took place on schedule. Then it was, "They'll never have a constitution drafted by August." The drafting committee worked hard, bumped their deadline by a few days, and got it done. "The Sunnis will boycott." The Sunnis participated, the referendum was held on schedule, the constitution was ratified. "It's a civil war already, a hopeless quagmire going to hell, if quagmires could go to hell." The election campaign was vibrant, with dozens of new parties and party lists competing for support, and religious figures of both Shia and Sunni communities encouraged their people to participate freely in politics. Although a couple of candidates were assassinated by anti-freedom fighters -- one on the day before the vote -- candidates and parties campaigned openly without fear, a marked contrast from 11 months ago. The Iraqi nation has sent a solid message to the terrorists and Saddamists among them, as well as to the defeatists and pessimists in far distant lands.

The message is a simple one: "You are on the wrong side of history."

Whatever the results of this election -- which may not be known in detail until the new year -- the true winner is already known. Iraqi Democracy, which used to be a fundamental contradiction in terms, is now an undeniable reality. Those who staked out their position firmly in the vicinity between hopeless and disaster will have a hard time denying this reality. Rather than allow themselves to feel inspired by the Iraqis' example; rather than acknowledge the power of the thirst for freedom and the strength of the human spirit; and certainly rather than admit that President Bush has a firmer conviction with his belief in that thirst and in that strength within every people (ideas that "progressives" used to espouse too, once), and far exceeding the idealism of any of the armchair revolutionaries who despise him; the solution seems to be, let's not talk about it.

Take a drive around the leftwardmost regions of the blogosphere, looking for new and fresh takes on the most democratic event ever to have taken place in the Arab world. I would link to them for you, but I couldn't find any. You'll find cynicism from those few who don't know when to stifle, like from the Kos Kiddies (which I've never linked to, but here's a top ten reasons why, if you must know). Those who recognise that such displays would make them appear petty and mundane, and altogether too un-idealistic for vanguards of the progressive movement, are just sticking to health care, Rove and "Scalito," etc. I suppose they wouldn't deny that Dec. 15 was a special day -- cause, y'know, 'all days are special in their own way' and like, 'it's the only day of the year that comes after Dec. 14, dude. And it's 10 days before Christma..^ I mean the holiday we're not s'posed to say the name of.'

There's a good round-up of bloggers' thoughts on PJM, but as I said, slim pickings from the left side. More impressive was PJM's rolling coverage throughout the day, from correspondents all across Iraq -- the full list is on their Top Stories page. This election day coverage was organised by Omar and Mohammed of Iraq the Model, who collated the dispatches from their friends across the country. You can also read these dispatches all in one updated article on their site, with the added advantage of extra photos.

Speaking of which, I loved the picture Omar and Mohammed used to head their election day report. The purple finger is still (as you see above, too) a potent symbol even after the third time. The brothers took a pic of their inked fingers in a pose reminiscent of the famous "Crossed Swords" monument in Baghdad. Just a bit before seeing this, I'd been looking through the Iraq Memory Foundation, looking through some of the documentation and oral histories reposited there. Then I saw this page, which has a good photo of the monument -- and the following text:
Iraq's interim Government officially recognized the role of the Iraq Memory Foundation in 2004, granting it long-term use of the "Crossed Swords" ceremonial parade grounds complex in Baghdad. In February 2005 that official order was formalized with a 40-year lease. When the Foundation completes planning, design and construction of the "Crossed Swords" complex, it will serve as nucleus for all its activities and programs, functioning as archive, museum, memorial and a center of culture and scholarship.

"The Iraq Memory Foundation shall establish a national institution located in the center of Baghdad, at the Ceremonial Parade Grounds and the Arches of Victory, to gather these testimonies, documents and artifacts. This institution will be a landmark in the capital, open to all citizens, and shall be a national endowment."

Prime Ministerial Order, 25/8/04
Then I went to ITM, and saw Omar and Mohammed's minimalist, but triumphant photo. I understood their wordless message. And I wai deeply in their general direction.

Powered by Blogger

blogspot counter