Does Democracy Guarantee Freedom?
Thomas Jefferson: Founding Father and Slave Master
Notes on a Persistent American Myth
As thousands of Jubilant Egyptians pour into Taquir square screaming “Allah u Akbar” upon the news that Muhamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, has won the presidential election, many of the original occupants of this square during the upheavals of the so-called “Arab Spring” are lapsing into fear, doubt and even despair. They look at the election results and wonder what happened to the liberal democratic revolution they thought they were building. Only the most naïve dreamers among them can continue to believe that their dream will be realized.
It is a tale of two countries; those who prefer a secular democracy and those who long for a theocratic Islamic state under Sharia law. Although Morsi, an American trained engineer with a PhD, appears to be trying to distance himself from the pious theocrats who swept him into power by announcing that he is quitting the Muslim Brotherhood, talk is cheap and we shall see if he is willing to oppose his Islamist brothers in favor of secular policies, or this is just a ploy to keep American foriegn aid flowing into their crumbling economy.
It is hoped in some quarters that President Morsi’s American education will serve as a moderating influence, but they forget that Sayyid Gutb also earned a graduate degree from an American university. However the time he spent among us so turned him off that he returned to Egypt and became the leading theologian of the modern Islamic Jihad; a global movement of Muslim fanatics with a dagger aimed straight at the heart of American civilization.
Sayyid Gutb: Briliant Islamic Theologian
Egyptian Father of the Global Jihad
The truth is, once people get the right to choose their leaders anything can happen; it’s a matter of what their hopes and dreams are. As I have said before: the secular democrats and the Muslim Brotherhood who joined forces to overthrow the Mubarak regime might have been sleeping in the same bed but they were dreaming different dreams.
The results produced by the first popular democratic elections in Egyptian history, which put a Muslim fundamentalist in the President’s office, illustrates why military strong men all over the Muslim world have consistently refused to permit the development of a popular democracy. Alas, if Egyptian democracy becomes an enemy of freedom it will be just the latest addition to an age old phenomenon.
The world’s first democracy was in ancient Greece, in fact the term is of Greek origin; yet Greece was a slave society. The Roman Republic was the world’s second democracy. But it was a Patrician democracy where only the upper classes had the right to vote and slavery was widespread. The Early American Republic Resembled the Roman Republic with its property requirements for voters and the widespread practice of slavery.
All of the Founding Fathers had slave interests accept John Adams. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, kept over 200 slaves and bore seven children by his slave concubine Sally Hemmings and kept them all as his slave property.
Furthermore, new scholarship by the law professors Alfred and Ruth Blumrosen’s published in “Slave Nation: How Slavery United the Colonies and Sparked the American Revolution, and Dr. Gerald Horne’s new book “Negro Comrades of the Crown” make an impressive case that the motivation for the American Revolution was not to expand human freedom but to preserve slavery.
Yet even under the best of circumstances, as Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in his famous 1831 treatise “Democracy in America,” without legal protection of the rights of unpopular minorities popular democracy can quickly degenerate into a mere tyranny of the majority.
Non-white Americans have always lived under the tyranny of the white majority, mitigated only by Civil Rights legislation, and minorities who are non-Muslim and non-males in Egypt – i.e. Coptic Christians, women and secular democrats – will soon find themselves living under the tyranny of an Islamist majority without continued military mediation of the constitutional process.
The Egyptian Military Stands Aside…for now
But they shall decide what the new Egypt becomes
Playthell George Benjamin
Harlem. New York
June 25, 2012