The Legend of Wooley Swamp

What ever happened to nuance? Jabberwocky is being spewed up by the left and right as they try to drag us into their Wonderlands. This blog charts a path out of this swamp of simple truths and false certainties. And from time to time, it'll be a place for more light-hearted musings.

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Location: Palms - L.A, California

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Purple Fingers in Kreuzberg

It was something I just had to do and it was even more exhilarating than I had expected. Yes, I am a sucker for symbolism, but this ranks right up there with the best. In a world full of disciples of the SchadenFreudian school and partisan hacks, this was a welcome breath of sanity, fresh air and freedom. It really could be that simple and for me it was.

Luckenwalder Strasse, Kreuzberg, Berlin. For the past three days, in an old post office, hundreds of Iraqis have been voting in the first free parliamentary elections ever. This was one of four polling stations in Germany, and it was in my neighborhood. So off I went on my beloved bicycle.

While lots of folks voted on Tuesday and Wednesday, many had left it till today since they would then be voting on the same day as their compatriots in Iraq proper. Naturally, I was not allowed onto the premises, not that I wanted to gawk too much like the elections geek I really am. I can also report that security was not overdone. Luckenwalderstrasse is a side street, and while it was closed off to car traffic, passersby went about their business, scoping out the scenes around the post office.

But I could no’t contain myself and set upon a man who was just coming through the main gates. I inquired if I might ask a question and he did not object. "Yes, I have voted," he said and thrust his purple left index finger in the air with a big smile on his face. Just next to us were three women who were chatting away, all the while excitedly taking cell phone photos of themselves in front of the polling station.

ORIGINAL CAPTION: A Iraqi poll worker checks the rolls for registered voters at an election center in Baqouba, Iraq, Thursday Dec. 15, 2005. The worker's finger is stained with ink, signifying that he voted. Iraqis voted in a historic parliamentary election Thursday, with strong turnout reported in Sunni Arab areas that had shunned balloting last January, bolstering U.S. hopes of calming the insurgency enough to begin withdrawing its troops.
(AP Photo/Jacob Silberberg)

What many of us take for granted, and too many of us still do not have at all, universal suffrage, was today embraced by one more people. All power to the Iraqis.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never did understand why poeple outside Iraq, who really have nothing to do with the day to day there, should be allowed to vote. Life is so different in Canada, the US and Europe, where these ex-pats are voting from, and that can results in a very different electoral outcome than actually being there. if I'm not mistaken, Canada doesn't allow ex-pats to vote. By allowing Iraqi "westerners" to vote, this will help influence the outcome of the new government towards more of what the US wants to see, a western friendly regime.

Well, I'm glad you had a good time Johnnie!

1:25 PM  
Blogger Johnnie Oz said...

Well, Anonymous. kind of you to be happy for me. Not sure though where you get your information, because in most Western countries expatriates are part of "universal" suffrage. This would include Canada. Secondly, the numbers concerned are usually quite low. Another interesting case in point is the upcoming presidential elections in Mexico where millions are technically eligible to vote, but very few are likely to do so. For more that click here.

Still, of course they can influence an election and what's wrong with that? Experiences gained from living abroad offer perspective and leads to a greater understanding of the country you come from. This more than makes up for not knowing what Paul Martin or Stephen Harper said on the stump last night. And anyway, you seem to lumping together a motley group of expatriates who have spent different amounts of time, enjoyed varying success and have all kinds of relationships to both Iraq and their 'new homes.'

As for Iraqi 'westerners' (and the US) wanting a 'western friendly regime'...this may be the case, and that would be just fine with me. But since that appears to disturb you: all migration scholars will tell you that some emigrants become assimilated into their new societies while some become radicalized and alienated. In other words, the exact opposite of what you suggest may occur could happen. In the end, it's about the right and the privilege to vote. Democracy.

9:33 AM  

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