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Tattletales for an Open Society | The Nation

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Tattletales for an Open Society

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I'm sure the NSA has already read sufficiently alarming e-mails coming from me to secure at least a file in their vast databases. Still, I would be honoured to be on your list. I live in Ireland where I find it increasingly embarrassing to be a US citizen. I also lost a good friend on September 11. She was on the first plane that crashed into the WTC. While I grieve for her, I did not lose my judgment when she lost her life.

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When I read that the US Government did not feel obliged to honour the Geneva Convention with respect to the Afghani prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, I could scarcely believe it. I was used to hearing such mouthings from the lips of Third World Dictators and the like. And then I saw a poll on CNN's website today, where 91 percent of the respondents believed the Afghani prisoners were being treated appropriately. How could they possibly know? The authorities could be doing anything they like to them and no one would ever find out. Perhaps people will recall all the things we learned when the press was finally allowed into Grenada.

If Court-appointed President Bush can get away with this now, how far a reach is it before he suspends elections? Appoints himself President for life? Ridiculous, you say? If someone told me the US Government would ever openly decline to honour the Geneva Convention, I would have said that was ridiculous.

Turning myself in,

ALEC JOHNSON
Apprentice tattle-tale

***

Thus far, we've succeeded in toppling the Taliban, and roughly 4,000 innocent Afghani civilians, with thousands more likely to die as the result of our destruction of roads, hospitals and general infrastructure. Is this justice? Will it really make us more secure, or will it deepen the spiral of violence?

Remarks made at a peace rally at Riverside Community College
Sponsored by Students for Progressive Alternatives
November 26, 2001

ASATAR BAIR
Doctoral candidate
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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I am reporting myself. I have written both my senators and representative about the ongoing erosion of our civil liberties that their silence is condoning. I also stood on a downtown Seattle street peacefully protesting my country's foreign policy. Actually, I feel it is my duty to speak out against opportunistic executive orders and legislation that is being implemented under the shady cover of the fight against terrorism. Thank you for giving me the chance to turn myself in. I feel so much better.

JANEEN COOK
Seattle, Washington

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Though I am only a high school student, I feel as though the creators of the ACTA list may fear me as much as any university professor. Since the events of 9/11 first occured, I have spoken with my peers and close adults about my opposition to a war. I have repeatedly asserted, most recently in an interview for a teen column in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, my concern regarding the violation of necessary civil liberties within this nation and the effects of war and bombings on an impoverished Afghani population. If Senator Lieberman and Dr. Cheney harbor anxiety about the proliferation of these beliefs by university professors, they should consider a student's potential that much more potent.

ADAM ROSENFELD
Senior, J.R. Tucker High School
Richmond, Va.

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Having read Dr. Sherwin's letter on the back cover of the January 21 issue, I turned to ACTA's website to review the organization's material. I found it quite ironic that some of the most forceful statements throughout the website support academic freedom and stand diametrically opposed to the message in the unsigned article in the fall newsletter, Inside Academe, to which Dr. Sherwin is responding. I find it hard to believe that ACTA feels that it can have it both ways; either the organization supports free thought and free speech or it doesn't. I may not have the wording exactly right, but I seem to remember that Justice Holmes argued that the significance of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution was that it protected freedom of thought not just for those who agree with us, but freedom for the thought we hate. I am no longer teaching, but if I were, my students would certainly be critically exploring a great many dimensions of the situation our nation finds itself in since September 11. Please sign me up as a Tattletale.

RICHARD K. RAMSDELL
retired Humanities teacher, Flint Central High School
Flint, Michigan

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I am an American who teaches European Politics at the Uuniversity of Liverpool. I received a copy of your open letter via e-mail. I would like to commend Martin Sherwin for his stand. I would also like to let you know that all of the concerns he mentions in his open letter (repression of academics, arrest of Muslims, secret military tribunals, creation of anti-American lists, etc.) are openly discussed with growing concern by students, academics and, increasingly, the mass media in the UK. The British government has done all it could to "stand shoulder to shoulder" with the US government, but even it is beginning to have reservations and concerns. If the strategies of the "war on terrorism" are beginning to raise concerns in one of the USA's staunchest allies, imagine their impact elsewhere.

ROBERT GEYER
School of Politics and Communications
University of Liverpool

***

In all the naming of names, I feel that mine should be mentioned. I am a student, and a non-American, yet this is hardly grounds upon which to reject my sincerity, as terrorists are never nationals anyway.

I have chosen to name myself because I do not approve of the actions taken by the United States government in the war against terrorism.In fact, I have even gone so far as to create enemies in my small redneck town by suggesting that"the United States contains a sinister government that uses its huge economical power to purchase politicians that in turn lobby for the wars it carries out, and from which its businessmen advantageously seek profits." I have also opened my mouth to hear phrases such as "No, I don't like George Bush or his dogs" and "I wish it didn't turn out so lucky with the pretzel" escape, yet I still feel no remorse. However, I come from the equally, if not more, democratic nation of Australia, so I should theoretically be able to speak such crude wisdom without any fear of McCarthyesque reprisals.

I would also like to make it clear to the ACTA that in the past year I have had strong connections to a Palestinian-Australian who has shared with me his deep and bitter hate of the US because of its role in Israel's Palestinian genocide. This in turn helps him to heal the pain of having a 6-year-old cousin butchered by Israeli soldiers.Yet for this much I hope I am not arrested.

I have also protested at one of the antiglobalization movement's protests staged around the world in recent times. If the ACTA does not understand this action fully, then I will explain to them that it means I am an active force against the imperialist tactics of the US government. I continue, even after September 11, to pursue my dream of being an active force in destroying the narcissistic power of the world's number one rogue state. I hope to draw the attention of the ACTA to concerns from much of the world that itisindeed also participating in anti-American activities, and that if they want to list everyone then they shall subject our planet to a lengthy documentation process which will eventually be as pointless as caring about un-American activities in the first place.

Surely I must be considered a threat to US national security, as I one day seriously hope to be. (I think I've ruined all chances of ever getting a visa now, dammit!)

CASSIE HARRIS
Student, University of Wollongong
Australia

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