They Are Saying...
March 21, 2002
By Sheila Samples
say it's a public relations campaign to shore up support for
Bush's never-ending war on evildoers. They say they're a brand
new groupand they call themselves Americans for Victory
Over Terrorism (AVOT). They say their intention is to "take
to task those groups and individuals who fundamentally misunderstand
the nature of the war we are facing."
I say they're the same old bunch, all dressed up in a brand
new name. I say they're either the same as, or the evolution
of, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA)formed
by hard right-winger Lynne Cheney and "liberalocrite" Joe
Lieberman to stifle opinion on college campuses. I say their
intention is to silence those groups and individuals who dare
question Bush for declaring an never-ending, ever-widening
global war on anyone whom he pleases without consulting Congressthe
only body in this democracy authorized to declare war.
Bill Bennett, this nation's self-appointed moral cop and
founder of Empower America, is AVOT's chairman. Bennett and
his right-wing, neo-conservative henchmen vow to "resist"
dissention both here and abroad. In simpler terms, Bennett's
mission is to seek out American citizens who dare to question
Bush. Then, by using the far-ranging tentacles of AVOT and
ACTAto smoke 'em out, git 'em on the runand bring
'em to justice...
Bennett and Cheney are working in tandem to target U.S. citizens
who "hate" America by exercising independent thought, who
pose a real "threat"such as college professors and faculty,
former presidents, concerned legislators and writers. In a
report issued last November, Cheney's group "outed" 117 college
professors in an enemies-of-the-state blacklist reminiscent
of the McCarthy era. One professor even went so far as to
say, "Ignorance breeds hate..." Another dared to plead for
an "end to the cycle of continued global violence." For infractions
such as these, Cheney's November ACTA report attacked college
and university faculty as being "the weak link" in America's
9-11 response, and concluded, "the message of much of academe
was clear: BLAME AMERICA FIRST."
Bennett's group ran a full-page ad in the March 10 Sunday
New York Times with the dark warning that such individual
thought "stems from either a hatred for the American ideals
of freedom and equality or a misunderstanding of those ideals
and their practice." Bennett's AVOT ad blasted as traitors
those who dare to speak out, and accused them of "attempting
to use this opportunity to promulgate their agenda of BLAME
Such warmongering has rendered an entire populace mute for
far too long. They say, "Be silent in the face of evil, and
freedom will be victorious." They say any criticism of the
administration's conduct of the war will hurt our national
resolve and will give aid and comfort to the enemy. But as
I look in wonderment at the smiling, nodding, SILENT world
into which I have been catapaulted, I say Americans cannot
walk in fear and freedom at the same time. I say that, in
a democracy, people are not free unless they are free to speakfreely...
There is no difference in AVOT and ACTA. Their militant agendas
march in perfect lockstep with the president's own crusade
against anything even remotely challenging him. On September
20, President Bush said, "This is a fight of all who believe
in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom." That was
the firstand last"founding-fatherly" statement
I ever heard him make, for he immediately demanded uncritical
support and blind obediencenot only from Americans,
but from those throughout the world who would be our allies.
There is no middle ground, no excuse for being neutral. The
world's nations are either for us or against usa status
that is not open to negotiation.
They say it is anti-American to question Bush's foreign and
defense objectives. America stands for freedom of thought
and speech, for diversity and dissent, but they say we must
not exercise those freedoms. We must not question anything
we see or hear. But I say that the charge of "anti-Americanism"
is itself profoundly anti-American. It is a means of silencing
others, of dismissing opinions not in line with those of the
administrationof excluding critics from rational discourse.
There's no doubt in my mind if our founding fathers appeared
fullblown on the scene today to remind this administration
of the principles enshrined in their declaration of independence,
Attorney General John Ashcroft would round them up, throw
them in jail as potential terrorists and listen in on their
conversations with their attorneys...
I say our founding fathers made a lot more sense than Bennett
or Cheney and their self-reighteous groups dedicated to stilling
the sounds of freedom. I refuse to believe everything they
say just because they say it. I do not believe the selfless
reasons they give for Bush's crusade against evil specifically
because I so fervently believe in the progess, pluralism,
tolerance and freedom that Bush claims to be defending.
Unless we are prepared to question, to expose, to challenge
and to dissent, we'll be forced to stand by and watch the
demise of democracy--the very system for which they say we
Sheila Samples is a freelance writer from OklahomaNickles,
Inhofe and Watts' Countrywhose denizens stand united
and proudly silent.