Friday, 20 July 2012

REMEMBERING JULY 20, 1944

Today, 68 years ago, was the last of many unsuccessful attempts by courageous, patriotic Germans to remove Hitler from power by one way or another. These heroes who came from many areas of German society, from students and ordinary people to generals, diplomats, politicians, civil servants, clergy, artists and aristocrats, deserve our admiration. They risked imprisonment and death to rid their country and the world of evil. 


The last and best known of these heroes was Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg, so I'm using his picture to stand in for them all. It doesn't matter that they didn't succeed, what matters is that they tried when most didn't or couldn't.

Unfortunately political evil and dictatorship didn't end in 1945. It exists today all around us. China hasn't ever been governed democratically in its long history. Russia has only experienced a few years of  imperfect democracy and can't be called a democracy today. The Middle East (Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, to name a few of the more atrocious examples). Most countries on the African continent. And let us not forget the so-called advanced democratic countries of the "Western World". The only "super power" left, the United States, which demonstrates every day that its democratic institutions are almost bankrupt. 

And especially, let us think about our own country, Canada, which since 2006 has been run by a man and a party which is dedicated to undermining our democratic institutions and take us back to a time when the country was ruled for the benefit of a small, ignorant, racist, bigoted, white minority and doesn't see itself as being there to advance and protect all of us equally.

Fortunately, 30 years ago, we had a far-seeing prime minister who foresaw that there might be a future danger from the far right of our society to undermine our rights and freedoms. As a result, so far, it's proved difficult for our current government to encroach deeply into the values of our society. But, as the example of the heroes of July 20, 1944 shows us, we must remain ever vigilant so that we can prevent our freedoms from being encroached upon in the first place and thus not make it necessary to resort to the extreme measures that they had to.

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