Jewish World Review Feb. 3, 2003 / 1 Adar I, 5763
Dissenting dishonest dissent
Robust debate is one of the things that has made this country great. The Founding Fathers really went after one another during the forging of the Constitution, and sometimes the verbal rancor was frightening in its intensity.
But the Founders had common ground in that they believed in the concept of a free United States and that individual rights were the key to that freedom. Theirs was a labor of love, and they all were proud to be called Americans.
Fast forward to the current debate over Iraq. The intensity is certainly there, and, for the most part, the differences of opinion are sincere. But there are major exceptions. Some Americans who object to any military action against Iraq believe that the United States is, itself, a terrorist nation and that anything the Bush administration proposes is to be scorned.
A few days ago, an organization called "Not In Our Name" paid for a two-page advertisement in The New York Times, part of which said this: "We too watched with shock the horrific events of September 11, 2001. We too mourned the thousands of innocent dead and shook our heads at the terrible scenes of carnage -- even as we recalled similar scenes in Baghdad, Panama City and, a generation ago, Vietnam."
What? Is that advertisement saying that the United States is guilty of crimes akin to those of the 9-11 terrorists?
There is a huge difference between honest dissent and distorted propaganda designed to denigrate your own country. Equating the terrorist attack on 9-11 with the United Nations' mandated removal of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait and the arrest of the drug-dealing dictator of Panama, Manuel Noriega, is incredibly insulting to the people of America. This text goes far beyond protest -- this is anti-Americanism.
The advertisement was signed by well-known radicals like Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky. But it was also signed by entertainers like Joan and John Cusack, Danny Glover, Susan Sarandon, Martin Sheen and Sandy Duncan, of all people. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton also lent their names to this piece of propaganda, which, I believe, puts those gentlemen into sharp perspective.
Ms. Sarandon, in particular, is lashing out against people who are calling her anti-American. She recently told the British press that she is just "raising questions." But signing on to an ad that implies your country committed terrorism on the scale of the 9/11 attacks is far more than just "asking questions." And most people know it.
The "Not In Our Name" group is a front for the Bill of Rights Foundation, a far left group that has been around for 35 years. It is a tax-exempt organization that, for the past few years, has given most of its donated funds to the defense fund of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the Philadelphia cop killer whose case has been appealed to death, pardon the pun. The evidence against this man remains overwhelming.
Now, the Bill of Rights Foundation has turned its attention to opposing the policies of the Bush administration and has convinced some celebrities to get on the train. But where were these celebrities when President Clinton ordered the bombing of Belgrade, which led to a regime change in Serbia? Was Slobodan Milosevich a direct threat to the United States?
Could it be that some in the anti-war movement are selective in their strategic targets? Sorry about the military reference.
The sad truth is that there are some American citizens who consider President Bush to be more of a threat to the world than Saddam Hussein. These people are entitled to their opinion, of course, but when the dissent becomes vitriolic propaganda, then judgments must be made. Saying that the United States committed terrorism in the Gulf War and Panama is outrageous and foolish. It is also anti-American.
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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the
Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author
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© 2001 Creators Syndicate