Paul Greenberg

The test of a true republic is whether its creation enhances human dignity rather than degrades it. No one can take pride in this ghastly show in Libya, or at least no one should. Libya's nascent democracy has failed its first test.

The chronicles that record the end of tyrants are long and sobering, full of such grim vignettes. Osama bin Laden sent to the murky depths, all rites duly observed. Saddam Hussein hanged in a mob scene that might have made a lynching look dignified. Mussolini and his mistress dangling from a scaffold in Milan. Doktor and Frau Goebbels doing away with themselves in that sordid führerbunker under the chancellery of a new Reich that was going to last a thousand years. But not before the Goebbelses had killed their six children, too. Their innocent children. Consistent to the end, Nazis. If they could no longer kill others' children, they would kill their own.

There is still a freedom tide in the world, but it ebbs and flows. And it is anything but even. No one can expect to see it progress by the day or even the year. It gains and then retreats again.

But there is an arc to history, and it bends toward freedom. And justice. Or let us hope so. And more than hope. Let us now praise those men -- and women -- who fight for freedom around the world. Despite the "realists" who are always urging retreat, they keep fighting. They keep advancing. This time to the shores of Tripoli.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.