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Democracy under attack

World history is packed with horrible incidents involving the slaughter of people because they dared to question the powerful over a system of blatant injustice or the breaching of basic human rights that all people are entitled to.

Most countries on this earth have experienced dark periods where bigotry and hatred were tools actually used by people in positions of authority to suppress certain people who they felt for reasons usually connected to race or ethnicity were are unacceptable as regular citizens.

World wars and civil wars fought over the issue of civil liberty and freedom have taken such a dreadful toll, leaving brave men, women and children resting in the silence of history for refusing to accept a life of tyranny and suffering without dignity and respect.

Every human being is entitled to those values regardless of race, ethnicity or political beliefs. There are regions today where the meaning of democracy is only a distant dream for many.

No leader should be allowed to have unlimited power to inflict hardship on those who question policies clearly designed to protect supporters who pledge allegiance without question. That type of leadership exists where democracy is merely a word in the dictionary.

We all know this is far from a perfect world, and the struggle for true freedom is part of global challenges in the quest for Injustice.

Despite countless wars, and the bitter price paid with lives along the way, the world today with all its technical wonders — which include an orbiting international space station, placing a vehicle on Mars, along with great strides in medicine — a mountain yet to be climbed is the ability to respect and share our planet in peace together.

Even countries that have managed accumulation of wealth are being hard-pressed in a world where the gap is wider than it should be between the haves and the have-nots.

This becomes a critical issue, especially when people feel skin colour and ethnicity are handicaps in an atmosphere where bigotry and hatred are components yet to be eradicated, and where one could be attacked just for existing.

While we do not live in a country where radicalism is that extreme, in America many people of Asian descent are being attacked by those who choose to believe they are responsible for the present pandemic that is raging globally.

Joe Biden spoke this week on the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre (File photograph by Matt Rourke/AP)

When bigotry and hatred take hold of people to the extent where they feel justified in harming people they don’t know, they become the enemy of democratic principles. It was that attitude that led to the carnage of a Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 100 years ago, leaving a thriving town in smoking ruins with some 300 people dead.

It was a chapter in American history that those Involved in the crime wanted buried with the victims. The face of democracy would be a long time in coming.

Speaking at a memorial honouring those many citizens murdered by bigotry and hatred, President Joe Biden emphasised that what happened was not a riot, but a cold-blooded massacre. It took many years for the true story to emerge because survivors had their lives threatened if they uttered a word about what happened. However, Biden said this incident would not remain buried with its victims.

Although America saw other dark chapters unfold over the years, in the attempt to eradicate racism there has been significant progress. But the new administration is aware that beneath the surface, there are elements with the same deadly instincts who frown on democracy and what it stands for.

Political observers believe these hate groups represent the greatest threat to democracy in America. A most disturbing thought is that, apart from these extremist groups, the Republican Party has openly engaged in tactics to implement policies that would not only make it difficult for people of colour to vote, but wants legislation that would provide a judge with the ability to overturn an election. That is certainly not what should happen in any democratic society.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for the Biden Administration is to stand firm in defending democracy in a nation that has so much to offer its citizens and the world. With hate groups lurking in the shadows, it is going to be tough road ahead, especially with the gun debate remaining an issue with no easy solutions.

The positive aspects of the nation are far greater than the negatives. Voting rights should be high on the agenda because the inability to vote, no matter the devious cause, weakens the democratic process — something no American should ever want.

The right to vote is the greatest gift in any free society.

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Published June 05, 2021 at 8:01 am (Updated June 04, 2021 at 2:47 pm)

Democracy under attack

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