The recent suspension of the democratic constitution
in Pakistan on November 3, 2007, and the silencing of many print and broadcast journalists is the first and most important
step in President General Pervez Musharraf’s
attempt to consolidate power and assume autocratic rule. Although the implication
of another dictatorship in this region of the world is obvious to most people who are remotely familiar with politics, I was
interested in discovering how American talk radio hosts would spin the fall of democracy so that it would actually appear
as a good thing. What I heard was no less than frightening.
In effect, conservative talk radio was either apologetic or ominously silent on the issue. Glenn Beck went as far as to say that it is preferable to have a dictatorship in Pakistan than to risk
it becoming an Islamic fundamentalist nation. Because the Bush administration
supports Musharraf with financial and military training aid, Republican sycophants such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Beck,
and others willingly refuse to cross swords with the administration. Instead,
these hosts prefer to “tote the party line” in the hope of 1) not alienating ultra-conservative listeners and
politicians and 2) widening the political dichotomy between democratic and republican candidates for president.
Interestingly enough, though, is the question what would they say should an American president ever impose martial
law and suspend the constitution because of fear that radicals may be destabilizing our government. Would these same conservative, talk radio personalities advocate and support the crackdown on freedom,
even if we were told that martial law was only temporary? I find it laughable
that lawyers in America would protest much as the Pakistani attorneys have done, and I can only assume, noting the sheep-like
nature of the average United States citizen, that nearly everyone would comply. While
free press would be squelched in America, stations that broadcast the likes of Limbaugh and Beck would be allowed to continue
to air their shows unabated while such talk show host spout their autocratic propaganda not wholly unlike many figures in
the media did in Germany in the 1930s and 40s.
When going to sleep tonight, we should ask ourselves this: Would I have the
courage to stand up in resistance to dictatorship should it ever arise on my home soil or would I, too, nod in obsequiousness?