Monday, March 26, 2007

A John Stewart Mill quote Western Sahara's supporters should remember

Thursday, I said Morocco would do well to remember J.S. Mill's words about free speech and repression. Mill is slick enough to enlighten both sides, though, and that's why today I'll quote something he said that, if followed, would make discourse about the Western Sahara a lot more civil:

"The worse offence of this kind can be committed by a polemic, is to stigmatize those who hold the contrary opinion as bad and immoral men"

With a large country (as well as a homeland) at stake, and with abuses on both sides, it's easy to characterize the opposition as stupid or evil men. Instead, let's recognize the legitimate reasons Moroccans want to hold onto Western Sahara, and that many of us would feel threatened if someone suggested cutting away half of our country.

Incidentally, pleasant Britisher Disillusioned Kid was rude enough to shatter my Mill illusions in a comment on the earlier post. In "A Few Words on Non-Intervention", Mill calls for British intervention in the affairs of foreign countries, and praises Britain's noble restraint regarding its colonies. It's easy to imagine how Mill would've felt about Western Saharan decolonization if it was a British colony, but it wasn't, so let's agree not to stigmatize our enemies.

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