On the 4th of July: Why Dissent is Patriotic
Happy Independence Day to all readers in the US. Happy Interdependence Day to all citizens of the world, including those in the US
Yesterday, just in time for the 4th of July, I was amazed and astounded to see this comment on a discussion list where I participate actively:
"Too bad the Libs of this list will always turn a blind eye to truth and historical perspective, glaze over facts, and continue on with their anti-Bush, anti-military and anti-American agenda."
As one of those so-called Libs, I responded thusly:
I'm not going to let that little bit of foolish namecalling go by. I will let the other lefties on this list speak for themselves--and speaking for myself, I am very definitely motivated by patriotism. I want to make this great country the best it can be--even as every government of my conscious lifetime has been a deep disappointment. You have no business assailing the patriotism of those who disagree with you; that's a trick out of the fascist and totalitarian-Marxist playbooks. In fact, the compulsive need to attack dissent as unpatriotic is one of the deep concerns I have about the Bush administration. This country developed the best system of government that had been tried at that time, 229 years ago.
I have made choices to spent a significant portion of my time--of my life--trying to keep this country on a mission of social justice, environmental stewardship, and peace. I act out of love for my country. I could have used that time instead to pursue endless material wealth and the hell with anyone in my way, or to tear down our entire social structure and replace it with something nastier. But I am a patriot. I am motivated by my love of this country and my sincere desire to see it live up to its potential.
I do not see the following actions as patriotic, but as destroying the very fabric of our system, and also destroying our positive perception by the rest of the world. It is Bush and his henchmen/puppeteers who have created a "rogue state," and as a Patriotic American, I consider it my duty to do what I can to reverse the damage:
- Violating international law in order to fight the oil-and-testosterone war in Iraq (and in the process create the terror network they claimed was there to begin with, but wasn't
- Lying to the American people, and the world, repeatedly
- Blowing a CIA agent's cover because her husband, a US Ambassador, turned in an honest report debunking the whole thing when he was asked to investigate whether Saddam was buying uranium from Niger
- Attacking the First Amendment with a ferocity not even seen in the dark days of the Nixon administration
- Tearing up the environmental and financial checks on big business that were carefully negotiated over a period of many years, and damn the consequences
- Letting crooked and greedy people with vested interests like Enron's Ken Lay create policy (he was on Cheney's energy task force, you'll recall)--and in turn, creating policy that directly and corruptly benefits their cronies in the private sector (one need only look at Dick Cheney's own company, Halliburton, and its amazing ability to win no-bid and highly lucrative contracts, even after it was shown that the company was mismanaging the contracts it already had, at substantial cost to the American taxpayer
- Refusing to accept intelligence reports if they ran counter to the hoped-for findings--not letting truth get in the way
- Condoning torture at the highest levels
I submit that true patriots are opposing the hostile takeover and destruction of our system of government by the radical-right fringe now in power. And BTW, I still do not grant that either the 2000 or the 2004 election was actually conducted honestly. Bush's presidency will always be under a cloud. Compare what happened in Florida in 00 and in Ohio in 04--both situations in which the senior official in charge of the election, the Secretary of State, happened to be a senior leader in that state's Bush campaign (something that shocks my European friends) with what happened in the Ukraine this past winter, when extremely similar voting irregularities brought hundreds of thousands of people out into the streets and forced the government to do the election over. It is a sad commentary on the American people that we allowed our presidential election to be stolen not once but twice.
[I quoted the original poster, who claimed that the torturers of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo were acting alone and were already being disciplined, and that the Newsweek article "fuel the fire for anti-Americanism around the world," and that we should not blame Bush or Rumsfeld for the bad behavior of a handful of soldiers."]
Sorry to burst your bubble, but there's substantial evidence that the highest levels of this administration deliberately developed policies based on torture. I am talking about Rumsfeld, Gonzales, and by implication, Bush. Under the Nuremberg and Serbia precedents, among others, these men are war criminals.
As for the Newsweek article; they were merely reporting what had been widely known--in fact, the story of Koran abuse surfaced at least as far back as March, 2004. I don't condone the riots in Afghanistan, but it was not Newsweek that caused it--it was the desecration of another religion's holy books. I've blogged on this at some length at
And on that note, I again wish you all a very happy 4th--one that is informed by the same principles of struggle for justice that imbued the Founding Fathers with such spirit, and left us a vital legacy of democracy. Let's reclaim that proud heritage.