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Pakistani Autocracy: Too Close to Home?

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To protect and defend . . .

            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? 

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