Ken Blackwell

Democracy is not just a matter of voting and showing off purple fingers. Respect for religious differences must come before anyone can accept the right of a neighbor to hold different opinions on political and social matters.

Democracy requires not only religious liberty, but representative institutions, a vibrant civil society, respect for property rights, the rule of law, and a free and open press. The Middle East has no history of these building blocks of democracy.

There are other cultural practices that bode ill for democracy. Take a closer look at those rebels who are being likened to the embattled farmers at Concord Bridge. They all are firing their rifles and pistols into the air. The bullets from those rifles can rise, perhaps, a mile into the sky.

All of those bullets will return to earth. Their speed upon impact will be the same as they were as they left the muzzles of those guns. Or, they may hit the men, women, or children unlucky enough to get in their way.

This practice is justly described as “a depraved indifference to human life.” It speaks to a profound cultural problem in the Middle East. We have a legal doctrine in the West that speaks to this repugnant and barbaric practice:

To constitute depraved indifference, the defendant's conduct must be 'so wanton, so deficient in a moral sense of concern, so lacking in regard for the life or lives of others, and so blameworthy as to warrant the same criminal liability as that which the law imposes upon a person who intentionally causes a crime. Depraved indifference focuses on the risk created by the defendant’s conduct, not the injuries actually resulting.

It will not do to say all this will come in time, provided that they get to vote, showing off their famous purple fingers. Edmund Burke said it well: “Men of intemperate minds cannot be free; their passions forge their fetters.” There’s a reason no state in the Middle East—except Israel—has been free thus far. Bob Morrison is a Senior Fellow at the Family Research Council.

Ken Blackwell

Ken Blackwell, a contributing editor at, is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and the American Civil Rights Union and is on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. He is the co-author of the bestseller The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency, on sale in bookstores everywhere..
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