Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The dark side of popular revolution.

I haven't posted anything on this blog about the recent revolution in Egypt or the ongoing unrest in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. Though these events have been much on my mind, I've been too busy tending to my 'day job' (which is often also an evening and night job) to write anything about them. If I were to write something about the current events in Syria, my perspective might echo the views that Terry Mattingly recently expressed on the indispensable weblog GetReligion:
Something very sobering and terrible is sinking in for Western journalists who are covering the uprising in the Middle East. They are beginning to wonder if the outcomes of these revolutions will automatically be good or, at least, "good" as defined in terms of civil liberties and human rights as they are promoted at, let’s say, the United Nations.

In other words, sadly, there may be isolated situations on this earth in which totalitarian governments do a better job of protecting the rights of religious and ethnic minorities (or sexual minorities, for that matter) than governments that represent unfettered majority rule.

This has, of course, been a minor theme running through the mainstream press coverage of the flight of Eastern Christians from Iraq and other nations in that region. Every now and then, the mainstream press also notes the plight of the Bahai’s in Iran. Gays in Iran? Every now and then.

In other words, could there be a dark side to the Twitter and Facebook revolutions in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere? Surely not. I mean, the Copts have been asking for it, right?

That was an extreme way of saying what I am trying to say.

Here is the key, for me, as we watch the unfolding events in Syria. This is a hard news story to tell, if you want a simplistic good side and a bad side. Yes, there are people who are crying out for justice. That theme is there. And they want an end to corruption. True. But many of the demonstrators have defined these terms in terms of an Islamic state — of one kind or another. What will the majority choose?
To read the rest, click here. My qualms about what is going on in Egypt and Syria have the same basis as my longstanding misgivings about the U.S. invasion of Iraq and its aftermath. Western observers who applaud popular uprisings in the Middle East seldom stop to ask what simple majority rule would mean for the ancient Christian communities that constitute a notable minority in countries like Egypt and Syria. As the tragic plight of Iraq's Christians since 2003 shows, majoritarian democracy is not always the best guardian of the rights and security of minorities.

It's too soon to know how the Copts will fare in post-Mubarak Egypt, or to predict what life might be like for Christians in Syria if the current government falls; even so, I wish that Western journalists (and policymakers, for that matter) would devote some thought to this issue before treating the "Twitter and Facebook revolutions" as an unqualified good. I hope, too, that readers of this blog will join me in praying for the Christians of the Middle East and in trying to inform others of their plight. AMDG.


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