Saturday, April 02, 2005


Justin Webb, the BBC Washington correspondent, thinks so:
In all the three years that I have been reporting from this country, I do not believe there has been a more important moment in its history than this.

Or an issue that illuminates the complex and vital soul of America as the Terri Schiavo case does. ***

The reason the Schiavo case is so important, the reason it has Americans talking and arguing, and the reason it should, in my view, have the rest of us re-assessing our view of this nation, is that Americans were corralled but rebelled.

They were emotionally blackmailed but refused to budge, were told that their deepest held religious beliefs should push them in one direction, but thought for themselves and thought differently.

America is often portrayed as an ignorant lazy sort of place, full of bible bashers and ruled to a dangerous extent by trashy television, superstition and religious bigotry, a place lacking in respect for evidence based knowledge.

I know that is how it is portrayed because I have done my bit to paint that picture, and that picture is in many respects a true one.

Look no further than the $25,000,000 creationist museum which is about to open in Kentucky. Complete with models of Adam and Eve being chased by dinosaurs, surely some mistake, and explanations of AIDS that blame the disease on homosexuality.

There is plenty of barminess and plenty of nastiness here if you look for it, but for me, the revelation of the Schiavo case was that there is plenty of good sense as well. ***

Americans do believe in God and they do believe in life, but they also believe in law, and rules, and the need for democracy to restrain, not satisfy, the wishes of politicians. ***

It is a lesson the Republican party, which has allowed itself to become very closely allied with the religious right, will reflect on in the months ahead.

Already moderate Republicans are talking openly of re-capturing their party from the social conservatives.

It is possible at least that the high watermark of social conservatism has been reached. Its limit set by the will of a silent liberal majority.

The founding fathers must be watching from their heavenly perches and wondering at the power of the constitution they created.

It is common to scoff at American attempts to export Jeffersonian democracy, but after these two weeks the scoffing should stop.

This system works.
(emphasis added)

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