- Update: Today, Gateway Pundit‘s concludes descriptions of various participants, heroics of Iraq’s Mithul al-Alusi and Garri Kasparov with the understated: “Certainly, Prague is not short on heroes this week.”
Countering the posts we’ve been doing on Cuba and Venezuela, across the ocean Sharansky, Havel & Aznar organized “Democracy and Security: Core Values and Sound Policies.” (In Prague, June 5-6, hosted by Prague Security Studies Institute, Jerusalem-Based Shalem Center’s Adelson Institute For Strategic Studies and Madrid’s Foundation for Social Analysis and Studies.) Gateway Pundit is covering it and includes a moving speech by Lieberman and a rather rousing one by Bush – described by Gateway Pundit as “Bush Rocks the Czernin Palace”. The conference is full of people who have taken great risks and lost much for the cause of democracy and liberty.
This doesn’t seem to be getting the coverage one would think it should. For instance, dissidents from seventeen countries sat in the front rows for Bush’s speech – these people are, by their presence, interesting. The stories need not really say that Bush met with them privately or that he got a standing ovation – we understand why that is not news.
Having just shipped off to our newly wedded daughter and her Czechophile husband our framed posters of the old Masaryk, lifting his hat in a salute to the camera in that lovely old sepia style, matched with another of Havel, I was especially pleased to see Bush’s words.
It is fitting that we meet in the Czech Republic — a nation at the heart of Europe, and of the struggle for freedom on this continent. Nine decades ago, Tomas Masaryk proclaimed Czechoslovakia’s independence based on the “ideals of modern democracy.” That democracy was interrupted, first by the Nazis and then by the communists, who seized power in a shameful coup that left the Foreign Minister dead in the courtyard of this palace.
Through the long darkness of Soviet occupation, the true face of this nation was never in doubt. The world saw it in the reforms of the Prague Spring and the principled demands of Charter 77. Those efforts were met with tanks and truncheons and arrests by secret police. But the violent would not have the final word. In 1989, thousands gathered in Wenceslas Square to call for their freedom. Theaters like the Magic Lantern became headquarters for dissidents. Workers left their factories to support a strike. And within weeks, the regime crumbled. Vaclav Havel went from prisoner of state to head of state. And the people of Czechoslovakia brought down the Iron Curtain with a Velvet Revolution.
Many say Bush has not made his case – but this is hardy a forest in which he has uttered these words, it is in the center of Europe. Sure, we might wonder if a tree makes a sound when it falls and no one can hear it – but how are we to hear it if our ears, journalists, do not perform the simple function of listening.
The Czechs are, certainly, wonderful. I may be getting tired of my younger daughter’s Forman festival this summer (an obsession I put on a rough equality with her affection for “Snake Farm” by Ray Wiley Hubbard – Netflix and cheap used cds have their downside). As you might suspect, this isn’t my culture and after a good deal of my life immersed in it, it still seems, well, foreign.
But, in the midst of a family that treasures those heroes and that aesthetic, I understand they could do worse. Those heroes – from all those 17 nations – are heroes. This is a culture with virtues, many virtues. And they are ones Bush recognizes, though our newspapers don’t appear to share this understanding. I watched for it to be a topic on tonight’s Lehrer Report; searching the web sites of Fox and CNN I see nothing about it, either. Is it just me or isn’t this a pretty big, interesting, event? And, by the way, does anyone know how Gateway Pundit became so knowledgeable and so cutting edge here, as he was in the stories of various other Slavic events?
(Corrected; which goes to show I should always do Amazon links to stop me from such stupidity: Ray Wylie Hubbard, not David Allen Coe, sings “Snake Farm” though I can’t imagine why you care. This is my daughter’s idea of a cheerful way to greet the day.)