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When Will We Learn The Concept Of Civil Discourse?

First, it must be understood that this article is an expression of my own thoughts and ideas, not necessarily shared by other members of the organization, the American Libyan Freedom Alliance (ALFA). It must also be understood that ALFA is comprised of individuals with diverse opinions, united only in their mission as outlined in ALFA’s bylaws. Members of ALFA, while sharing many views, they also have many divergent perspectives on other issues. It is precisely this divergence of opinions that enriches ALFA and makes it a vibrant and successful organization. Its membership is open to all individuals who share its mission, regardless of all other considerations, whether they be political, religious, ethnic, or national origin.

Most recently, a group of Libyan expatriates announced the formation of a new organization, the American Libyan Freedom Alliance (ALFA), following several meetings in Washington D.C. The founders explained the mission and goals of the organization, and pledged transparency of all their activities, beginning with using their real names rather than aliases as most others do.

One of the main goals of ALFA is to highlight Gaddafi’s bloody past to every national and international organization dealing with issues of human rights and the rule of law. ALFA will seek to address the grievances of the Libyan people in front of international courts, United Nations, and other appropriate channels. Many politicians and human rights activists are ignorant of the real tragedy of our people, and were utterly surprised when informed of the facts. We, Libyans, are too familiar with Gaddafi and his atrocities that we wrongly assume that everyone else is as equally informed as we are.

Some Libyans have objected to ALFA’s dealings with American officials, although this is a perfectly legitimate venue for ALFA to start its work. Many members of ALFA are American citizens of Libyan descent, and therefore entitled to air their grievances to their elected officials. Furthermore, the United States is the only superpower, and its influence is felt all around the globe. Other Libyan expatriates, who are citizens of other powerful nations, should address their elected officials and ask them to help Libya break free from its 34 years of tyranny.

As we try to assess the validity of any effort related to our struggle against Gaddafi, we should ask questions and seek answers to them, such as:

1. Should we leave the liberation of Libya to those inside Libya alone without seeking external help? Looking back to history, we will discover that Libya has always relied on outside help to gain its independence and to maintain its freedom. However, outside help was sought carefully and managed intelligently without sacrificing the integrity of Libya.

2. Should we not exclude the Europeans and the Americans because of their past and present injustices toward Arabs and Muslims? As Arabs and Muslims, we have a tendency to blame others for our misfortunes, never willing to accept our own responsibilities toward our reality. The British and American support for Israel comes to mind. It is true that both the British and the Americans have created and supported Israel, but it is the failure of the Arab governments and people that permitted Israel to become what it is today. It is the Arab governments, particularly the Jordanians’ betrayal of the Palestinians that gave Israel its first foothold in Palestine. Other Arab governments, particularly those who expressed public support for the Palestinians while they conspired against them in secrecy, have also contributed to the current crisis of the Palestinians. I firmly believe that the Arab governments and people could have secured Palestinian legitimate rights through economic boycott and isolation, without the need to engage in wars. They should have honored and implemented their countless agreements amongst themselves, instead of breaking them once they parted companies. The Arab people as a whole bear responsibilities for their failed societies. If we continue to blame others, we will never address the ills that are inherently of our own creation or as a result of our apathy.

3. Should Libyans seek assistance from those who cannot assist themselves, or from those who helped Gaddafi in brutalizing our people, such as the governments of Egypt and Tunisia? Both of Libya’s neighbors to the east and west have manipulated Libya’s misery to enrich themselves, and to prolong Libya’s suffering. The same could be stated for others who are in Libya’s proximity. Also, Logic dictates that assistance is sought from the strong, not the weak; just as money is sought from the rich and not the poor.

4. Should we all despair and give up, and let Gaddafi treat Libya as his rightful possession to be inherited by his dysfunctional offspring? I mentioned before that ALFA has a legitimate agenda, which had never been effectively pursued or tried in the past, so why not try a different approach? The presence of ALFA was to add to the diversity of Libyan opposition and not to preclude any other approach. The intent is to enhance and to activate other groups who have been dormant for sometime, unless one counts an odd press release on special occasions as a legitimate activity.

In the spirit of openness and transparency, several members of ALFA have reported their activities on the various Libyan web sites, and more of such activities will be reported in due course. Furthermore, since the essence of success is perseverance and consistency, members of ALFA have committed themselves to a long and arduous campaign that will continue until Libya is freed from Gaddafi’s tyrannical rule.

I would conclude my letter with a request to all of us to refrain from being insulting and rude when we disagree with a point of view. By all means, criticize to your heart’s desire, but be constructive not destructive in your approach. When you disagree, point out the reasons for your disagreement and be ready to give an alternative view point, rather than descend to a tirade of personal assaults. Such tirades do not demean your opponent as much as it demeans you personally. Let’s honor and respect each other by always maintaining a civil discourse, that addresses the issues rather than attacking personalities.

Mohamed M. Bugaighis, Ph.D.

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