Telling the Truth is a Revolutionary Act
6 October 2001
What has happened to political discourse in America?
The right keeps preaching that anyone with the sanity to tell America to go slow in response to the acts of terrorism in New York and Washington is equivalent to Neville Chamberlain. Michael Kelly, writing in the Washington Post, went so far as to call these sane individuals "pro-terrorist." Neo-conservatives have warned President Bush to heed their call to arms and to push aside Colin Powell and anyone else of his ilk who would put a break on retaliation.
Americans have not appeased terrorism, but the American media appears willing to appease the right's usurping of the political agenda. Howard Fineman wrote a piece for MSNBC arguing that Democrats should be thankful that Republicans are in power, because Republicans would certainly have disrupted the execution of the presidency by President Gore. I recently watched Bob Woodward, appearing with Charlie Rose, spinning George W. Bush into the next Franklin Roosevelt. Now is not the time to hide the truth. Howard does not speak for me. I am not thankful that the Republicans are in power.
Post Reagan, the right wing of our federal government has relied on fear and bullying tactics to obtain and hold power. Both Bushes came to power lacking the oratory skills of "The Great Communicator" and his believable message that it was "Morning in America." Widespread public support for the Bush presidencies has only come when the country was in a state of war or when American citizens were being prepared for war. After the despicable acts of terrorism, Americans have clearly expressed their willingness to fall in line behind the president. Despite that fact, the right demands no dissent from the left but feels free to pressure Bush from the right. Peace and prosperity marked the eight years of the Clinton presidency. This was not enough to appease the right. Throughout the Clinton Administration, Republicans continuously threatened to disrupt the federal government. Shutting down the government under Gingrich, the witch-hunt and impeachment of Clinton, and the theft of the 2000 presidential election are three examples in which Republicans turned democracy on end. Thinking Americans know that the end does not justify the means.
I also refuse to sit back and let some idiot draped in an American flag lie about my beliefs. On September 26, Michael Kelly wrote just such a diatribe. It played upon Bush's theme: "He that is not with me is against me," George Orwell's words, not Bush's. He then fell into his own unique domino theory. According to Kelly, anyone that was not in support of war as a response to terrorism was a "pacifist." Pacifists were "not serious" by nature and "naïve," part of the "reactionary left-liberal crowd." Kelly called pacifism "pro-fascist," "pro-terrorist," and "evil." Kelly's claims are absurd on their face. He paints a broad group with labels that clearly do not apply in order to dismiss all dissent. He also uses a tactic that is common in writings from those on the right. He attributes adjectives that have a clear historical reference to the far right and uses them to describe opposition from the left. Reactionary is a political adjective that refers to opposition to liberalism and to extreme conservatism. A fascist is an adherent of fascism or other right-wing authoritarian views. The word derives from Fascisti, the members of an Italian political organization that controlled Italy under the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini from 1922 to 1943. Fascists sought to gain power through violence and social control of the local populations. These movements, most notably in Italy, Spain, and Germany, led Europe into World War II. Kelly would have his readers believe that any opposition from the left of Bush is the equivalent of letting Hitler occupy the United States. Is the right so unsure of their course of action that it must tell such bold and ugly lies in its attempts to stifle opposition?
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." George Orwell said that as well. Michael Kelly and his ilk do not appear to understand that Orwell believed that telling the truth is a good thing.
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