Roger L. Simon

There's Something Happening Here...

Letters to the Editor from today’s NYT:

To the Editor:

Re “Defying Threats, Millions of Iraqis Flock to Polls” (front page, Jan. 31):

I admit that I have been disappointed with the Bush administration’s handling of the war in Iraq, and I did not support the initial reasoning behind the invasion. But the image of Iraqis holding up their ink-stained fingers while dancing around polling stations is one that will be burned into world history in a way comparable to the images of the Berlin Wall falling and students facing tanks at Tiananmen Square.

Not only Iraqis should be proud of this moment, in which they defied the cowardly threats of terrorists. So, too, should freedom-loving people around the world – especially the brave men and women of the allied armed forces. These troops assured that Iraqis could vote in a democratic election for the first time in generations.

Adam M. Van Ho
Hudson, Ohio, Jan. 31, 2005

To the Editor:

The ink-stained finger of an Iraqi woman pointing up to the heavens (front page, Jan. 31) is the symbol of something better. For the first time, ink has replaced blood as democracy replaced tyranny. Ink is the new color of democratic revolution.

The ink pouring forth is something that must paint the entire Middle East. In this new year, we have had two real elections in the Middle East. Both unprecedented for the region, they both signal a brighter future.

Democracy has made a major bridgehead in the Middle East. It is tenuous and fragile, but it is a start. Yet this force is sustained by hope and ink. I hate to admit it, but for the first time, I’m glad George W. Bush is president. Maybe a little red ink got in my blue Democratic veins.

Eric Hayes
Houston, Jan. 31, 2005

Of course, there are some from the other side as well, but still I think there has been a sea change in people’s “conventional” thinking over the last few days. How long it will last, I don’t know. We all fear change mightily. (hat tip: Catherine)

UPDATE: Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown is having second thoughts:

Maybe you’re like me and have opposed the Iraq war since before the shooting started — not to the point of joining any peace protests, but at least letting people know where you stood.

You didn’t change your mind when our troops swept quickly into Baghdad or when you saw the rabble that celebrated the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue, figuring that little had been accomplished and that the tough job still lay ahead.

Despite your misgivings, you didn’t demand the troops be brought home immediately afterward, believing the United States must at least try to finish what it started to avoid even greater bloodshed. And while you cheered Saddam’s capture, you couldn’t help but thinking I-told-you-so in the months that followed as the violence continued to spread and the death toll mounted.

By now, you might have even voted against George Bush — a second time — to register your disapproval.

But after watching Sunday’s election in Iraq and seeing the first clear sign that freedom really may mean something to the Iraqi people, you have to be asking yourself: What if it turns out Bush was right, and we were wrong?

It’s hard to swallow, isn’t it?

If you fit the previously stated profile, I know you’re fighting the idea, because I am, too. And if you were with the president from the start, I’ve already got your blood boiling.

Not true, Mark, at least from the perspective of this blogger who was a first-time Bush voter in ‘o4. I admire people who can admit they might be wrong in public. It doesn’t set my blood to boiling at all. It calms it down and makes me respect you. (hat tip: Peter Gorman in the comments)