Saturday, August 14, 2010

People's Will versus Political Correctness

When I was in 10th grade, I had to read an essay titled 'Democracy'.  I can never forget that essay because, it taught me the essence of democracy.  It went on something like this..

"Democracy is not about  the opinion of the majority of the people.. a true democracy is that in which the voice of the minority members is thoroughly analyzed by every one and a decision is made after a consensus is reached."

In other words, if a decision is being made,  If a majority want it one way and some people disapprove it, a dialogue has to take place with those who disagree and their concerns if genuine has to be addressed.

Essentially, in a democracy,  the will of the people should be enforced by the representatives who get elected by them.  And others should respect the decision of that people without judging them as it is the right of those people to make decisions as they like.

Now, there was news recently that efforts were being made by an Islamic group to build a mosque/community center near WTC at New York city.  Many Americans including conservatives opposed the plan for a lot of reasons which they think is valid.  There was even an opinion poll showing that 70% of the Americans opposed the plan.  Despite this overwhelming opposition, the Islamic group has found some significant support notably from the New York mayor Mike Bloomberg and other Jewish  groups including some prominent rabbis.  A few days ago, during an Iftar dinner hosted by the White House, President Obama stated that the Muslims have the same right to practice religion as everyone else in the country including the right to build a place of worship near Ground Zero.  He quoted the First Amendment of the constitution which ensures the right to practice any religion and even iterated how it was a fundamental American value to let people practice their religion of choice freely. 

Now, it takes a lot of guts to stand up to one's beliefs despite such a huge opposition and one must appreciate the stand taken by BO.

My question is, in a democracy, if the Government makes a decision which has overwhelming public support which happens to be wrong, Is it still correct to approve that decision?

It happens all around the world.. Recently, some European countries are contemplating to ban the Burqa in public places citing various reasons including security reasons.  Obviously Muslims do not approve of this decision and are not happy.  And in a true democracy, their concerns should also be taken in to account and that has not happened apparently in those countries. 

Let us say.. there is a country somewhere in the world where not a single Muslim lives.. It is a democracy and its people overwhelmingly support a ban on Islam in their country.  It may not be politically correct how do we judge such a decision of that sovereign nation? 

Hamas is considered to be a terrorist organization by the U.S, Israel and many other countries.  In the elections held a few years ago in Gaza, Hamas won an overwhelming majority in Gaza and initially formed a coalition Government with its main opponents the Fatah party in Palastine territories.  Now, even if we are completely sure Hamas is indeed a terrorist organization, how can we question the decision of the people of
Gaza?

The Post Godhra riots in Gujarat are viewed as genocide by many in the international media and also in the Indian media.  But Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his party the BJP has ruled that state steadily ever since the riots and has grown much stronger.  If the people in this state make a decision which we strongly believe is a wrong decision, how can we oppose their decision?

I want you guys to comment on this issue generously and share your thoughts on this..

Thanks,
Guru