Saturday, April 19, 2014 • 05:22
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Triumph of democracy


July 11, 2013
One of the great reversals of history occurred in 1934 when Adolf Hitler, who rose to power as a result of democratically held elections in which his Nazi party had achieved a plurality of the vote so that he was appointed chancellor by a reluctant German President Hindenburg, arranged to also be appointed president at the death of the aging Hindenburg. Soon he began to consolidate power so that it would be impossible for the German people to ever vote him out of office, even if they became disenchanted with him. If Hitler had had his way, the democratic elections of 1934 would have been an example of "one man, one vote, one time."

Fortunately for Germany and the rest of the world, the German military high command decided to step in and overthrow Hitler before he could declare himself "fuehrer," thus sparing Europe millions of dead and Germany a humiliating defeat.

What? You don't remember that coup by the German Wehrmacht that prevented another world war? You recall history differently? Well, perhaps you're right. Perhaps what I'm doing is engaging in what we historians refer to as a "counterfactual," and which readers of science fiction probably recognize as "alternate history."

The German military didn't overthrow Hitler, who had achieved power legally, even though he was well on his way to overthrowing democracy and declaring himself a dictator. However, last week, the Egyptian military, recognizing that President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, while democratically elected (after half of the electorate stayed at home out protest), had no intentions of playing by democratic rules, i.e. allowing themselves to be defeated if the voters turned against them, decided to overturn the election, oust the Brotherhood from power, and schedule new elections.

Sounds a little unfair, I know, but the Muslim Brotherhood is bad news, as they demonstrated almost immediately by forcing everyone, Muslim or otherwise, to live under Sharia law, i.e. to be governed under the Koran. Fortunately, in addition to be tyrannical, Morsi and his pals are also incompetent. As a result Egypt's economy, never a real powerhouse, has tanked. That, more than anything, is why Egyptians united around the idea of giving themselves an electoral mulligan.

Yes, it's unfortunate that a democratically elected president has been overthrown. But it would have been far more unfortunate if he hadn't been overthrown. Now, maybe the Egyptian people will get it right. Goodness knows, they deserve a chance to be free.

Words cannot express If some people don't let up, I may be forced to give up calling myself "The Curmudgeon," just when I am getting old enough for the nickname to fit me like a glove.

People in this town have been incredibly generous since they learned about my personal encounter with fire. I've had so many people ask me how I am, ask how they can help me, and express solidarity with me.

Misfortune does tend to bring people closer together, and for a variety of reasons, fire has brought the communities served by this newspaper together. We have a special bond, forged in fire, with our neighbors, especially those who have lost homes, property, and most important of all, life.

My losses are trivial compared to a lot of people, because possessions are trivial things. Temporarily losing a place to live is a trivial thing. I have much to be grateful for, and that includes the many friends I have in this community. If it takes a fire to find out how many friends I have, then it is worth it.

I have done the paper here for a long, long time. Thank you for reminding me yet again why I do it. It's not the money. It's the people.

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