Readers of NLT know that tomorrow the Iraqis will become the first Arab people to choose their government in a genuinely free election. As I follow the news of this historic event, I happen also to be reading Mark Twain’s interesting account of his travels (1867) in what we call the Middle East. At one point he says that if ever there was an “oppressed race”, it is the Arabs, who were then suffering under the “inhuman tyranny of the Ottoman empire.” He develops this theme a bit, and then concludes:
These people are naturally goodhearted and intelligent, and with education and liberty would be a happy and contented race. They often appeal to the stranger to know if the great world will not someday come to their relief and save them. The Sultan has been lavishing money like water in England and Paris, but his subjects are suffering for it now.
Subjects suffering while the Sultan lavishes money in Paris? Havent we heard that before? But today the “great world,” or at least part of it, has come to the relief of the Iraqis; and its no accident that the helper is a part of the world still capable of using words like “tyranny” and “liberty”. We hope the voting goes peacefully, and congratulations to the Iraqi people.