"Bush thumbs his nose at millions opposed to war-and he calls this a democracy." That's the lead headline on the newspaper of the Socialist Workers Party that is displayed (along with other propaganda) on the door of a professor's office three doors down from mine at the University of Texas.
The Iraqi government is reciting the same line. Al-Thawra, a Baghdad voice of Saddam, published on March 18 an editorial stating, "When the American president declares that his evil administration does not make its decisions under the [pressure of] mass demonstrations here and there, he is in fact contradicting the false democratic values which he glorifies."
Is this an anti-democratic war? Has the will of millions been thwarted? The Austin American-Statesman last week presented an awestruck lead story with a big front-page headline about the latest local demonstration: "7,000 in Austin cheer for peace." Big deal, in a metropolitan area of 1 million. (The Statesman five years ago, in a much smaller, non-front-page story about the estimated 8,000 to 10,000 Austinites who participated in a March for Jesus, did not suggest that governmental policies should change because of that outpouring.)
Anti-Bush demonstrations in bigger cities also have been yawners. The numbers have not been impressive, despite big hype in newspapers notorious for ignoring pro-life marches. But even if recent demonstrations were twice as large it would have been wrong to bow to them.
After all, the United States is a representative democracy specifically designed not to be what America's founders decried: a "mobocracy." Beyond that, in this case even some on the left have criticized demonstration leaders for backing dictatorship, not democracy. Georgetown University history professor Michael Kazin complained in The Washington Post last month that "The organizers of the recent Washington and San Francisco marches refuse[d] to say anything critical of Saddam Hussein."
Saddam's regime has been not only anti-democratic but Satanic in its treatment of human beings. Member of Parliament Ann Clwyd rose in the House of Commons on March 16 to read statements by Iraqi eyewitnesses that the organization she chairs, Indict, is compiling, so that specific Iraqi leaders can be prosecuted for crimes against humanity and genocide. Some witness statements are too grotesque for WORLD to report. But here's one of the accounts of evil:
"There was a machine designed for shredding plastic. Men were dropped into it and we were again made to watch. Sometimes they went in headfirst and died quickly. Sometimes they went in feet first and died screaming. It was horrible. I saw 30 people die like this. Their remains would be placed in plastic bags and we were told they would be used as fish food.... On one occasion, I saw Qusay [Hussein, Saddam's youngest son] personally supervise these murders."
Democracy means rule by the people-all the people, not just those who shred it as they shred human beings.