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The Purple Badge of Courage
Posted by: McQ on Sunday, January 30, 2005

Indelible and obvious to those who would kill them for participating, nevertheless they came in the millions.

(Toby Melville/Reuters)

In an incredible repudiation of the terrorists, the doubters and the cynics Iraqis defiantly turned out and voted in record numbers, making a definative statement of how they want to shape their future.
Millions of Iraqis flocked to vote in a historic election Sunday, defying insurgents who killed 25 people in bloody attacks aimed at wrecking the poll.

Iraqis, some ululating with joy, others hiding their faces in fear, voted in much higher-than-expected numbers in their first multi-party election in half a century.

Election commission officials put the turnout at 72 percent.
Everywhere, turnout was better than expected, even in troublespots:
Even in Falluja, the Sunni city west of Baghdad that was a militant stronghold until a U.S. assault in November, a steady stream of people turned out, confounding expectations. Lines of veiled women clutching their papers waited to vote.

"We want to be like other Iraqis, we don't want to always be in opposition," said Ahmed Jassim, smiling after he voted.

In Baquba, a rebellious city northeast of Baghdad, spirited crowds clapped and cheered at one voting station. In Mosul, scene of some of the worst insurgent attacks in recent months, U.S. and local officials said turnout was surprisingly high.
The BBC gave an hour by hour, place by place update:
We have seen voting here in the capital, and in the streets close to the BBC office the atmosphere was almost euphoric.

One elderly Shia man told us his two sons had been executed under Saddam and he was voting now to make sure there was no return to the old days.
Even the NYTimes couldn't find a way to report it negatively:
The voting in Baghdad streets of Baghdad were closed to traffic, but full of children playing soccer, and men and women walking, some carrying babies. Everyone, it seemed, was going to vote. They dropped their ballots into boxes even as continuous mortar shells started exploding at about noon.

Thirty-six civilians and three police officers died in mortar attacks and suicide bombings around the country, the Interior Minister reported. Twenty-two of the deaths occurred in Baghdad, Reuters reported, where mortar attacks took three lives and 19 people were killed by suicide bombers. At least 29 were wounded in the attacks in the capital, Reuters said.

But it the insurgents wanted to stop people in Baghdad from voting, they failed. If they wanted to cause chaos, they failed. The voters were completely defiant, and there was a feeling that the people of Baghdad, showing a new, positive attitude, had turned a corner.
And for a first-person view, read Iraq the Model:
I walked forward to my station, cast my vote and then headed to the box, where I wanted to stand as long as I could, then I moved to mark my finger with ink, I dipped it deep as if I was poking the eyes of all the world's tyrants.

I put the paper in the box and with it, there were tears that I couldn't hold; I was trembling with joy and I felt like I wanted to hug the box but the supervisor smiled at me and said "brother, would you please move ahead, the people are waiting for their turn".

Yes brothers, proceed and fill the box!

These are stories that will be written on the brightest pages of history.
Or Roger Simon live blogging the elections while watching Fox and CNN:
9:16 - Watching the line of Kurds voting makes you cry.

9:21 - I know it sounds corny, but those of us in the blogosphere--readers, writers, commenters--who supported our government's actions in Iraq and suffered the opprobrium of friends and family, were called warmongers and chickenhawks, this is a time to celebrate. This is what we were fighting for in the war of opinion. It's not much, especially compared to our brave troops, but it something.
But as Michael Ignatieff notes in the Observer:

Ignatieff gets most of it right, but misses on his conclusion. It wasn't the Bush administration which turned democracy into a "disreputable slogan", it was the rest of the world which did so. The rest of the world which sits idly by and criticizes while Iraqis struggle toward democracy. The rest of the world which is satisfied to talk the talk of democracy but have never, ever really been about walking the walk. The rest of the world which did nothing to help make an actuality that which the finger stained in purple ink symbolizes.

If democracy is a "disreputable slogan" now, its because most of the other democracies have acted in such a disreputable fashion by refusing to help Iraq become a free democratic state.

It is they who should be ashamed.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

And John Kerry should be most ashamed of all for his remarks today, casting doubt on the legitimacy of the elections.

Thank the lord we didn't elect this creep.
Written By: Shark
URL: http://
A reader over at Sullivan's blog suggested that we in the states wear blue ink on our fingers in solidarity - like wearing orange to support the people in the Ukrain. Good thought.
Written By: S.
URL: http://
If you want to see how deluded the so called left of center is, just check out Ollie "smirky" Willis comments.

Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
too bad that isn't a purple tipped middle finger, so it could be directed at the Frances and Howard Dean's and the rest of the weenie naysayers.
Written By: Mr. K
URL: http://
I'd change that to "most of the democracies"
Written By: Abu Qa'Qa
URL: http://
Yeah, you're right.
Written By: McQ
The author is correct when he observes that most of the socalled democracies did nothing. But thats why America is the city on the hill. America is remarkable now, before and forever. No other nation has done so much to spread freedom.
Written By: Thomas J. Jackson
URL: http://

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