Dear Sir or Madam:
This has been a long year for the citizens of Iraq and for our troops in the armed forces. Headlines, news-stories, and politicians have portrayed the situation in Iraq as violent, terror-ridden, and bloody. All of that is true: such is the nature of war; but also, such is the nature of a burgeoning democracy. Indeed, our own Founding was far from bloodless.
Nevertheless, there has been another story in Iraq that has unfolded over the past year, despite the violence, despite the terrorism–it is the story of a brave people standing up for themselves, with our help, to build a democracy–the first Arab democracy in the Middle East. While some have discounted this story, it is a fact. In January–and again in October–millions of Iraqis braved threats of attack from terrorists and stood up on behalf of democracy, casting their votes in a process that will culminate in a third election next week, Dec. 15th.
If there has been one, strong signal and image of those brave efforts, it has been the purple, ink stain on every voting Iraqi’s finger–proving they voted. Those ink stained fingers have been raised with pride in January and October; and we want them raised with pride again next week, as they stand up for freedom and elections in their new democracy.
Abraham Lincoln said of our Declaration of Independence that it contained “an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there, that today, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression.” The Iraqis are voting for candidates in their parliament, under their new constitution–as they, too, take this large step toward equality, life, liberty, and a pursuit of happiness impossible for them over the past generation, impossible for them even three years ago.
With our troops, with our allies, and with the brave Iraqis, we look forward to a new birth of freedom in Iraq; and want to do what we can to show our soldiers, our allies, and–most importantly–the Iraqis, that we stand with them as they stand for themselves.
Starting on Monday, December 12th, I–and tens of thousands of others across America–will be marking my right index finger with purple ink to show those in Iraq we support them. Based on suggestions from listeners on my nationally syndicated radio show, I–and we–are asking you (to the degree physically feasible) to make available an ink pad or marker at your check-out counters for your customers, to mark their fingers with ink as they leave your store.
Just as I believe in a politics of liberty, I also believe in an economy based on free market principles. Making an ink pad available for your customers who would like to show their support for those principles in your stores through December 15th is what I am asking, in support of that politics and that economy. You may wish to alert your local media of your doing this, for added publicity of the cause outlined above, and your support of it.
Let us all look forward to a day when all men, women, and children can live in freedom. Until then, let us do what we can for those that we can.
For more information, you can go to www.purplefingerforfreedom.org.
William J. Bennett
–William J. Bennett is the host of the nationally syndicated radio show, Bill Bennett’s Morning in America, and the Washington Fellow at the Claremont Institute.