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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 am not an academic, although I do have a master's degree in anthropology and once taught an introductory-level anthropology course at a local community college. I do teach high school students now one night a week at a local synagogue, so I still have opportunities to influence impressionable young people.

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My confession: I recently wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper and said that while there is no excuse for bin Laden's terrorism, I hope that the American government will look in the mirror and also focus on its own terror around the world. I mentioned all the millions of dollars Reagan spent helping to murder Central American peasants and the hundreds of thousands we helped kill in Iraq for oil and the hundreds of thousands more we've let die because of the sanctions. I also called Kissinger a war criminal for the illegal bombings that massacred millions in Indochina and cost far too many lives on both sides.

I feel better about getting that off my chest.

STEVEN FRIEDMAN
San Rafael, CA

****

An academic I am not, but I must be adangerous threat to national security nonetheless, since I was cannedfrom my job at a small-town newspaper for writing an op-ed questioning therationale of endingviolence and the death of innocent civilians with violence and the death of innocent civilians. I suggested that an introspective look at MiddleEast policies, putting September 11 in historic perspective and changing the posture of the UnitedStates in the world might be more successful approaches.

My observation of other mediashould have taught me that my job as a reporter is not to educate the public. My editor and publisher made it clear that when the United States is at war, it is my job to unite the community, wave the flag and cheer for America.

My problem is that before becoming a journalist I was anacademic, and Ican't stop believing what I used to teach my students about journalism and its place in a democracy. Surely a reporter who will not be silenced is worthy of thelist.

JACKIE ANDERSON
Unemployed reporter

***

I confess. I recently purchased a bumper sticker that states "Without dissent, it's not America," and I firmly believe that. I guess that makes me unrepentant as well as seditious.

PATRICIA A. CAREY

***

As the Chaplain of the Rebound Men's Recovery Program of the Charlotte Rescue Mission and as a part-time local Pastor in the United Methodist Church, I participate in the Second Wednesday Ethics Forum at Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina.

During the Wednesday, January 9, 2002 meeting of that auspicious gathering of local doctors, lawyers, businesspeople, educators and academics, I made comments that must surely qualify me for your list. I listened as an administrative memo to faculty was read to the group, outlining the faculty's responsibilities to keep secrets in the event of an FBI probe of student records. I proceeded to comment that our country's leadership and the media are doing everything they can to keep the attention focused on Afganistan, terrorism and bin Laden, and to keep the attention off of ourselves, our lifestyles and what in heck has gotten the rest of the world so goldarned angry with the USA. I stated to this group that we have now become willing to sacrifice our basic civil liberties in order to preserve our way of life. Our dismal failure at self-examination is typical of the addictive mind, which will refuse at any cost, including personal death, to conduct a fearless and thorough moral inventory. I made a clear and thorough statement aligning myself with TAOS's principles, and would be deeply honored to be included in your group for this reason.

C. BROOKS GIBSON

***

I, Christine Lea Fletcher, Assistant Professor on the faculty of Mississippi State University Libraries, do hereby tattle on myself for the following actions that took place in Fall 2001, which I perceived were in the best interest of my country:

XXXSLTSUXXXsect; That I did persuade a faculty colleague to agree with my point of view that followers of the Muslim faith should be treated the same as followers of the Christian faith.

XXXSLTSUXXXsect; That I did in conversation with colleagues and family members compare those who inflicted harm and damage on September 11 with Christians who bomb abortion clinics in the name of the Christian God.

XXXSLTSUXXXsect; That I did on a designated day wear a scarf covering my head and hair to show solidarity with Muslim women.

XXXSLTSUXXXsect; That I used the tenets and practices of my religion of choice in an attempt to instigate a reality contrary to that planned by the current presidency, thus attempting to thwart US military and government actions through divine intervention.

XXXSLTSUXXXsect; That I have openly criticized the US media for their handling of news stories since September 11, 2001, and that I have openly lauded the BBC for their own media reports, thus preferring a foreign news source to that of my own country of citizenship.

CHRISTINE LEA FLETCHER
Assistant Professor, Mississippi State University

***

I have been a weak link. I said to my sociology of religion class that I thought that the US policy of bombing Afghanistan was shortsighted and would eventually provoke more, not less, of what we hoped to avoid. I also said in that class, as well as my Introduction to my sociology class, that if we did bomb, that this must be accompanied by serious efforts to reach a just peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I also participated in a panel in which we were critical of the US policy in the Middle East. Finally, I told my Adult Education class that the US policy of buying up satellite pictures of bombing in Afghanistan and thereby severly limiting the images the American public is able to see is a violation of freedom of the press.

I hope I make the list! When this is all over, I want to have been counted as one who had the foresight to question the sanity as well as the ethics of the War on Terrorism.

MARGARET RIORDAN
Social Science instructor, Everett Community College
Everett, Washington

***

I offer my own name, Cheryl K. Shurtleff, to be listed in the ACTA report. I am a professor of art at Boise State University. I admit to not only posting a reproduction of Jasper John's painting Three Flags instead of an American flag on my university office bulletin board, but also placing a peace sign in the window of my home. Additionally, in a "Senior Seminar" course I taught during the Fall 2001 semester, I allowed and participated in several class discussions regarding the US "War on Terrorism" and our government's prior role in training Osama bin Laden and joined with my students in expressing great concern for the innocent people of Pakistan who are victims of US airstrikes and our government's obvious tactic of keeping evidence of wounded and killed civilians out of our media in order to fuel support for war instead of peaceful alternatives. I have also worn a peace-sign button to class.

CHERYL K. SHURTLEFF
Professor of art, Boise State University

***

I have repeatedly suggested to my students, at both the graduate and undergraduate level, that focusing military might on the Taliban regime and Al Qaeda networks will not, by itself, do anything to ease the widespread hostility to the United States which is widespread among intellectuals and non-elites within most developing countries. In fact, I have pointed out, killing and displacing lots of civilians while destroying what little is left of the Afghan infrastructure is likely to have the opposite effect.

I have also expressed my disappointment that so little serious consideration has been given to promoting economic development and cultural and economic linkages between the west and Afghanistan and other hostile-to-the-US regimes.

Third, I have suggested that a root cause of virtually all US problems in the Middle East (broadly defined) is the country's refusal to limit fossil fuel consumption; and I have pointed out that phenomenal irony of the current administration actively opposing efforts to promote conservation and short-term reductions in oil consumption.

MARC ROSENBLUM
Assistant Professor of Political Science
University of New Orleans

***

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