February 3, 2005


Freedom worth dying for (Mindelle Jacobs, Edmonton Sun, February 1st, 2005)

Western observers seem taken aback that so many Iraqis risked death in order to taste democracy, but it doesn't surprise expatriate Iraqi Fayek Abdel-Sayyed.

Tens of thousands of Iraqis were killed under Saddam Hussein's brutal dictatorship "for no reason," but freedom is worth dying for, he says.

"To build freedom, you have to make a sacrifice," declares Abdel-Sayyed, who drove from Edmonton to Calgary Sunday to vote with his wife, Maissoun.

Several dozen Iraqis were killed in suicide and mortar attacks on polling stations in Iraq's first free election in more than 50 years, and many more will certainly die as the country takes its first baby steps towards democracy.

But Iraqis understand that's the cost of freedom, says Abdel-Sayyed, 41. "We accept that because there is a reason," he says.

Even if the insurgents murder hundreds of people, Iraqis won't stop their quest for democracy because living under Saddam was infinitely worse, he says.

"We need to see freedom. We are human," he adds.

That's something the terrorists just don't get. Yesterday, al-Qaida vowed to continue its holy war, declaring themselves "the enemies of democracy."

But the fact that so many Iraqis defied these blood-thirsty lunatics to cast a ballot is a powerful testimony to the universal yearning for freedom.

In the West, people have become so cynical about politics that there's been a steady decline in voter turnout. We see it as something of a chore. If the weather's bad, we're likely to bail.

In contrast, in the face of death threats, intimidation and suicide bombers, Iraqis proudly lined up at polling booths and resolutely asserted their free will.

The Shiite relatives of Abdel-Sayyed and his wife were among them.

"They said, 'Even if we die, we're going to vote,' " says Abdel-Sayyed. Both he and his wife have extended families in Basra in southeastern Iraq.

Underlying many of the cynical and patronizing responses of the West to the Iraq election is the modern belief that nothing is worth dying for and anyone who thinks otherwise is either dangerous or ill.

Posted by Peter Burnet at February 3, 2005 8:06 AM

"In the West, people have become so cynical about politics that there's been a steady decline in voter turnout". Some years from now, there will be an Iraqi version of Nancy Pelosi. Iraqi voter turnout will be around 50%.

Posted by: AllenS at February 3, 2005 7:14 AM

Better Red than dead!

Posted by: ed at February 3, 2005 8:29 AM

I think many of these lefties and nihilists are even more parochial and pathetic than you seem to. Their attitude, if I read James Carroll's op-ed in the Boston Globe correctly, seems to be that if George W Bush wants Iraqis to be able to choose their own leaders, the notion of Iraqis wanting to choose their own leaders must be evil. 'George W Bush is evil because (fill in your narrow pet interest here) and therefore everything he believes in must be evil.'

I wouldn't even dignify these people with labels. They are more like petulant 7 year olds who won't eat their vegetables, insisting that anyone who makes them eat their vegetables is evil. I'm waiting for those Move On types to start marching with posters saying 'George W Bush is a Poopie Head.'

Posted by: Bart at February 3, 2005 10:44 AM

The idea that the lesser breeds do not appreciate freedom is one of the unwholesome legacies of the Vietnam Era's cowardice in service of treason

Posted by: Lou Gots at February 3, 2005 12:23 PM

It's curious that we keep hearing from the left that the Iraqi election lacks legitimacy because certain groups (e.g., Sunnis) were not adequately represented, etc. By those standards, our own elections are totally bogus since barely 50% of eligible registered voters even bother participating. I haven't seen anyone point this small detail out to loud-mouthed liberals.

Posted by: Rose at February 3, 2005 3:21 PM


I agree that conservatives sometimes tend to give the leftists and nihilists too much slack on the ole' righteousness meter, because many of them are objectively stupid, evil, dangerous or wrong. But there are millions of admirable, patriotic, ordinary, decent folks working hard to support their families who see themselves as progressives and want to do the right thing, which they define according to the liberal zeitgeist they grew up with without thinking too much about it or working through all the ideological hurdles. I'm sure many of the 57 million who voted for the President were ideological waverers who were holding their breaths and who voted according to a visceral sense of right and wrong that struggled uneasily with what they had always imagined to be their philosophical beliefs. It does us no credit to slander them or pretend every one who doesn't see the world according to Brothersjudd is by definition a moral cretin.

If you want to make a difference, work at it. Sitting alone at your computer and spitting out venom does nothing.

Posted by: Peter B at February 3, 2005 5:45 PM


That's unfair. My point is not about most Kerry voters, but instead about the 'usual suspects' like Michael Moore, Carroll, Juan Cole and the other predictable lefties and nihilists who have reflexively criticised the election in Iraq for no better reason than Bush was supporting it.

Posted by: Bart at February 3, 2005 6:56 PM