In Afghanistan this weekend, millions of people came out to vote. And while it may not be the perfect picture of an election, they did it with opponents threatening to kill them. Vote and die. Think about that when your only excuse is “I don’t have time.”
Now, name this country…
The women were innocent and defenseless. And by the end of the night, they were barely alive.
They beat one of them, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled another into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate thought she was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.
For weeks, the women’s only water came from an open pail. Their food–all of it colorless slop–was infested with worms. When one of the leaders embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.*
Nope, it’s not Afghanistan. It’s not Iraq or Saudi Arabia, either. That’s the United States. Just 87 years ago.
This was your grandmother’s world. She couldn’t vote for Kerry or Bush or Nader. She didn’t have a say in whether we invaded Iraq or raised taxes or funded education or banned gay marriage. For securing the blessings of liberty, she was beaten and jailed. She was called “insane.”
An HBO movie called Iron Jawed Angels is airing now, and it should be required viewing for any citizen, not just women.
How could anyone take their right to vote for granted after realizing the struggles of their ancestors to obtain it for them? If you’re a woman, you dishonor their memory by not voting. If you’re black, how could you even think of not voting, considering the struggles of your race? Hell, even if you’re a male white guy, you have the efforts of millions of patriots through history to thank.
To my mind, voting isn’t even a right. It is a debt to be repaid.
*A liberally edited version of an e-mail called “A Short History on the Privilege of Voting” that’s going around. Thanks to Crazy Tracy for this.