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A matter for all who cherish democracy

There are some right here in Bermuda who feel we should focus only on our problems, which are wide-ranging, instead of studying developments in other countries. Those with that view are entitled to their opinions and should be respected for it.

The precious quality of democracy is that it provides an opportunity for free expression for or against official policies that affect the lives of the people. However, the use of free speech can often be abused by those in powerful positions with devious and evil motives.

Words can at times be used as weapons, especially when they are spoken to incite and lead people away from the meaning of truth and decency.

Democracy is still held as a shining beacon in many countries for allowing people not only the right to free speech, but also the privilege to enjoy life in an atmosphere of justice, freedom and decency.

Even with challenges here in Bermuda, we are fully aware that compared to many other countries we remain an island blessed with wonderful people and great weather outside of the hurricane season. Despite political clashes, a normal part of democracy, we know what we have must be protected. At least that is the wish of most Bermudians.

Having a small population could be beneficial in that area. It was seven months ago that our friends in America found themselves confronted with the shocking attempt by a mob that drove a frenzied and brazen attack the Capitol Building in Washington with a view to halting the constitutional transfer of power to newly elected President Joe Biden.

That attack was not only aimed at stopping that process, but it was clearly an attack on democracy itself by people armed with a variety of weapons and filled with words from the former president, Donald Trump, who without evidence, insisted the election was rigged simply because he lost.

Much of the world had a virtual front seat to the affair, as we now live in an age where not much happens without it being captured on camera. After watching it live, along with many others across the globe, it was so stunning that one could only wonder if the nation itself was falling apart.

Flashback: Supporters of Donald Trump gather outside the Capitol in Washington. As rioters converged on the US Capitol Building, the grounds normally hailed as the seat of American democracy became a melting pot of extremist groups. Militia members, White supremacists, paramilitary organisations and fervent supporters of the outgoing president stood shoulder to shoulder unified in rage (File photograph by Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Major television networks were running the dreadful scenes without commentary because no words were needed. Watching the screaming mob waving Confederate flags and shouting words of hatred as they ploughed their way into the building, for a moment it seemed as though a civil war was under way.

Policemen were killed in the attack and many others were badly wounded. There will be many questions over why the National Guard was slow in responding to what could have been even worse had the mob reached members of Congress.

Loud and clear on tape is the former president urging his followers that the only way to take back their country was with a fight. That tape is not only in the hands of a congressional committee looking into the entire incident of January 6, but is also in the hands of investigators still trying to piece together how it all unfolded, and whether breaches of federal law occurred.

Many Americans are not only deeply concerned about Covid-19 and its Delta variant, which is still raging in the nation, but they are also wary of an undercurrent of extremism that could be planning yet another attack.

With Republican efforts under way to make voting difficult for people of colour in future elections, and much of the nation opposed to such moves, racial divisiveness is going to be a challenge for the Biden Administration.

On a brighter note surrounding a deeply emotional moment at the White House, Biden, joined by Vice-President Kamala Harris, bestowed Congressional Gold Medals of Honour on the many Capitol Police officers who put their lives at risk during the attack. The President, with emotion in his voice, wiped his eyes as he told them they not only defended the Capitol Building, but they also defended the Constitution and democracy.

We in Bermuda know very well that stability of America is important in helping to promote a better world, and that leads to economic growth as Bermuda re-engages in getting our tourist industry back on track. There is much work ahead for nations around the world. Perhaps keeping democracy alive may be the biggest challenge of all. No matter the struggle, democracy should matter for all who cherish freedom.

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Published August 07, 2021 at 8:01 am (Updated August 06, 2021 at 5:42 pm)

A matter for all who cherish democracy

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