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Intellectual Dishonesty from the RIght
March 23, 2002
By Lois Erwin

We don't need "patriotism police" or "dissent deniers" in America.

We especially don't need Bill Bennett and Lynne Cheney, with their cute little committees to tell us how to be good Americans, or how to be loyal Americans, or what our rights as Americans are.

We all have copies of the Constitution of the United States. We can read what that precious document guarantees to all Americans: the right to speak, to assemble, to think, without government oversight.

Yes, there are specific laws in the land prohibiting us from yelling "fire" in a crowded movie theater when there is no fire. But that is not what Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Cheney are all about with their little committees - AVOL and ACTA; they are out to stop us from speaking within the framework of existing laws.

In other words, there are NO laws on the books that prohibit dissent in time of war. If there had been, surely Republicans like the elder Senator Taft and presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey (during World War II) and Senator Trent Lott (during the Balkans war) would have been in violation of such a law.

They ALL, during wartime, dissented vigorously from the presidents' waging of those wars. Not only did those Republicans dissent, they pronounced their perfect right to dissent even, and especially, during wartime.

No, we don't need Bill Bennett and/or Lynne Cheney to monitor our patriotism. We can do that for ourselves. By implying that they have some inherent right to police our patriotism, they are being intellectually dishonest, because they both know better.

They both know they have no such right. They have no additional rights beyond what any American has, which is the perfect right to be critical of anyone else.

What Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Cheney are hoping is that many if not most of us do not know what our rights in America are - or worse, that we know but will be too intimidated by their "patriotism" committees to exercise those rights.

They hope to stifle dissent against the war. They hope to shut us up so we won't criticize George W. Bush as he stomps all over the world waging war wherever there are oil interests at stake or, in some places, just for the heck of it. They hope to control us.

Well, all they have that we don't have is committees.

So, I am here and now forming my own committee. The Committee to Ferret Out Phony Patriots. There, now I have a committee to monitor THEIR doings. So, they will monitor us, and I will monitor them

I am sure Bill Bennett could beat me at leg-wrestling (maybe Lynne could too!), and I am sure Lynne Cheney could beat me at being vitriolic; but I will take them both on when it comes to being a good American. I will take them both on when it comes to being a loyal American.

So, let's have at it, Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Cheney. Do your worst; you should be good at that - lots of experience. And I will do my best.

I am an American!

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