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"Exported Democracy": article draft by Roosevelt Fitzgerald




1990 (year approximate)


From the Roosevelt Fitzgerald Professional Papers (MS-01082) -- Drafts for the Las Vegas Sentinel Voice file. On Beijing students' demonstration.

Digital ID



man000998. Roosevelt Fitzgerald Professional Papers, 1890-1996. MS-01082. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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OCR transcription





We have to be really careful when we start rerchandising democracy to other parts of the world. If we're going to say that we have something we ought to be, first of all, certain that we do indeed have it and, second, we should append whatever necessary and appropriate qualifications.
First of all, we say that we have a democratic-republican form of government and, paraphrasing the words of Huey P. Long; every man can be a king. Here lately, we have extended his 1930s thinking to include women and we have done it in the strangest way. We've done it by saying that it is not necessary to pass an equal rights amendment because women already have equal rights to men. We know that is not so but we also know that in our society, illusion and mis-direction play important roles. It is even ok to lie so long as we do so with the proper fallacies which the overwhelming majority of the citizenry is not aware of and, even if they were, there is not enough time in our "dog-eat-dog" system to actively be concerned with such things.
In countries where dictatorships and oppression and repression have been the order of the day, I would imagine almost anything would be an improvement. Perhaps so. Still, we should at least warn those emerging nations about the shortcomings of our system and, hopefully, they will not make the same mistakes we have and continue to do simply because we've done things a certain way for such a long time that they have become traditional and habit and, more importantly, they have proven to be economically, politically, and socially advantageous for the one group and oppressive and repressive for the others.
You see, even in our democratic system which so many evolving, up-and- coming nations seem to wish to emulate, there are still the age-old residues of the old order which some in the new order find to be beneficial.
In the past year we have observed how in several of the exploding new democracies of Europe, there have been evidences of ethnic conflicts. Those ethnic conflicts have long existed even under the old regimes. The onrush of democracy will not extinguish them. Certainly,, the political system will change and there will be major alterations in the economic systems. However, while everyone will find themselves less: the targets of the formal government, some will continue to be the targets of those ethnic groups in the majority. They might earn more money, possibly live in better houses, have cars, send their children to college but they will still be constantly reminded of who they are either by the way they're actually treated or by the extent of their being ignored. The racial differences in those places are not nearly as great as they are here in the United States but, yet, and more often than not the differences are cultural, we find the group with the greater numbers are busy making new sets of rules which include them and exclude those with minority numbers. Have we heard that song before? Of course we have and we're still hearing it today.
To really appreciate the arguement that I'm putting forth here, if indeed I am putting forth any arguement at all, we have to travel a bit further back in time and a bit further to the east.
Dateline Beijing, China on the campus of Beijing University. Somewhere in the curriculum of that university may be found, I'm sure, a course or courses in their political science department which addresses the topic; Theory of Government. In the chapter or chapters or text or texts which pertain to democracy, there's a pretty good chance that the example nation is the United States. Chances are, based on the long-running conflict between the United States and China and democracy and communism, their professors cite the worse examples of American democracy in order to show its flaws.
What better way to show the rotten nature of democracy than by showing the racial disparities which exist here. Such realities right in the midst
of what its leaders refer to as the greatest form of government the world has ever known. Those citations bring into clear focus the shortcomings of democracy. Those proponents of communism behave in much the same way as some politicians do during a campaign; they spend their time pointing out what is wrong about their opposition and not in illustrating what is right with themselves except in very generic terms. Imagine the following as a possible classroom scenarion in Beijing twenty five years ago, a year ago, and even today.
"In the United States where democracy is touted as being the birthright of itsncitizens, a good number of those citizens Wrights are limited in comparison to others. It has been only in recent years that black citizens have been allowed to vote nationally. Additionally, once again, only since the mid 1960s have blacks been allowed access to many of the public facilities. Further, blacks, even today, are seemingly systematically murdered by the government or its representatives and such acts seemingly are not considered criminal. All of the above, to one degree or another, also apply to other racial groups.including Chinese. On the other hand, here in China, while we may not possess the technological advances, the agricultural wherewiththal, median income, housing and so on, that which we do have is generally shared equally. Our's is a classless society."
Such a lecture has much meaning to those whose value systems are oriented and were formulated during the height of hostilities between the two nations. The few who originally questioned that propaganda have been joined, in recent years, by many others. That group is populated primarily by college students.
A year ago those students from Beijing University staged a demonstration for democracy at Tianamein Square. That demonstration was suppressed by the government and, in the process, there was loss of life and imprisonments. The
reaction of the government sent shock waves through the United States where
many of our people, including me, identified with those students simply because not only were they rejecting communism but they sought to embrace democracy. I got mad when I saw what those troops did to those students and others during that frightful time in Tianamein Square.
Then I remembered. A year or two before the student demonstrations in Beijing, some of those same students had African students at Beijing University on the run. Remember? That handful of African students were hiding out and those caught were beaten. Remember? Do you remember why? It doesn't matter. These are the same students who are talking about democracy.
I was just thinking, perhaps they think, based on what they know of the United States, that democracy includes the right to chase and beat and kill black people. Somebody ought to let them know that even though that goes on here, it is not democratic. You know, it has gone on here for so long, almost uninterrupted, one might begin to wonder if we really do in fact have a democracy in this coungry.
Now I remember.why those African students were being chased. One of them had asked somebody for a date or a dance or something like that. Can you believe that. Someone who alleges to believe in democracy getting so upset over such a matter as that?