Tuesday, August 31, 2004
On this day:

The Positives the Liberal Media Ignores

Opinion Journal: Half Full -- A roundup of the past two weeks' good news from Iraq. BY ARTHUR CHRENKOFF
Iraqi bloggers, as always, had a much better perspective on events than most of the Western media. Wrote Ali of Iraq the Model:
For the first time we saw free discussions with the absence of fear. No one man talking and the rest just listening and nodding their heads in approval. Many members were so eager to talk and show their opinions, interrupting each other many times and of course this is all natural as a result of being forced to silence for such a long time.
And Zeyad at Healing Iraq reminded his readers of just how much catching up the Iraqis still have to do in their march to democracy:
The majority of Iraqis are unfamiliar with the rules of parliamentary sessions. The closest thing we had to a parliament was abolished in 1958 with the introduction of "Revolutionary" Republican rule. Whatever the level of political maturity Iraqis had accumulated at that stage, it slowly disintegrated year after year under the successive totalitarian ("Revolutionary") regimes. Today, 45 years later, we are back again at point zero. Under Ba'athist rule, proceedings from the so-called National Council were televised from time to time. The Revolutionary Command Council was the sole source of legislation, so basically the National Council had no other function but to approve and stamp the endless amendments. Votes were always unanimous. It was a joke really. A farce.
To their credit, some media outlets were able to recognize the reality. An NBC report had this to say about the conference:
They yelled and cursed, waving their hands in angry gestures. Surrounded by heavily armed American troops, they were holed up for days, with Iraq's future in the balance. But no one got killed. In scenes unimaginable under Saddam Hussein, and in sharp contrast to bloody battles in the holy city of Najaf, Iraqis this week formed the country's first representative council in three decades. . . . "We had no freedom to talk under Saddam," said Dr. Raja al-Khuzai, a moderate Shiite taking a seat on the new assembly. "Now I can stand and talk in front of 1,300 people." A senior U.S. official described the formation of Iraq's interim National Assembly as an "eye opener" in a region long governed by authoritarian rule. "I have never seen a group (in the Arab world) speak so freely and so unconsciously," the official said speaking on condition of anonymity. "Clearly the reason was because there was no 'big brother' watching. There was no party line to follow."