In the wake of the terrorist attack last week in London, the British parliamentarian Michael Gove writes (free registration required):
In choosing their targets, terrorists are making a statement. Whether it’s the Christmas market in Berlin or the Jewish museum in Brussels, the site of an atrocity is never an accident. And the decision on Wednesday to attack Westminster, and in particular to target an unarmed police officer, was an assault on institutions and values that embody special virtues. . . .
Britain’s history may have its shameful episodes and our present state may be far from perfect, but parliamentary democracy is our greatest gift to the world. The principle that our conflicts should be settled by debate, that rules govern how we disagree, that opposition to the government is nevertheless always loyal, that all authority derives from the people and power is transferred peacefully whenever the people decree is a very special inheritance.
For terrorists and totalitarians, and especially for Islamist fundamentalists, our democracy is a blasphemy and a crime. Power for them derives from being a member of an elect, whether racial, religious, or ideological, rather than being elected and accountable to the people. Laws are matters of fiat, enforced by savagery, rather than by agreements which help cement civilization. That is why the most extreme Islamist organizations declare that the very act of voting is haram—unlawful, impious, and forbidden. And that is also why our democratic creed that every single voter, whatever his birth, background, or belief, is of equal value—is so precious.