Quantcast

Tattletales for an Open Society | The Nation

  •  

Tattletales for an Open Society

  • Share
  • Decrease text size Increase text size

On Friday, January 11, 2002, while teaching my seventh grade US history class about the Declaration of Independence, I compared the series of grievances cited by the Founders to the recent actions of the Bush Administration, saying that we were starting down the road that leads to totalitarianism.

About the Author

Also by the Author

Victor Navasky on our friend and ally Don Shaffer, Sarah Woolf on Canada’s women premieres

John Nichols on the US Postal Service, Elana Leopold on rebel teachers in Seattle, Lucy McKeon on Ramarley Graham’s legacy, and the editors on Charlottesville’s anti-drone resolution

Further, this is only the beginning. My entire American Revolution and Constitution unit this year will have as its ultimate goal the direct comparison of the actions of the Bush Administration with those of Sen. McCarthy, President Nixon and the House Un-American Activities Committee, to name but a few.

Sadly, I too am too young to have been on Senator McCarthy's, President Nixon's or HUAC's lists. Further, I realize that ACTA is focusing on colleges, but I hope that the fact that I am being allowed to influence adolescents at such an impressionable age will convince them to reconsider. Surely my adherence to the Constitution, the First Amendment and the ideas of the Declaration of Independence qualifies me.

KELLY LOCKLIN US History teacher, McClure Middle School
Seattle, Washington

***

I support the war in Afghanistan, and I believe that military tribunals (within well-defined limits), the vigorous pursuit of domestic connections to terrorism,andeffective enforcement of immigration laws are justified by present circumstances.But while I might question the strategic wisdom of thosewho dissent from the Administration's approach, I do not question their loyalty or patriotism. I support the right of Americans, including academics,to criticize their government openly, even when I believe that suchcriticism is basedon a naXXXSLTSUXXXiuml;ve understanding of international and military affairs. Accordingly I am appalledby therhetoric of John Ashcroft and others who seem to equate dissent with treason. I am particularly appalled by the McCarthyite tactics of ACTA, which seeks to depict dissent in a sinister light, in the processgrossly exaggerating its actual extent.ACTA cites a small number of examples of dissent to support the claim that academia is "out of step" with the rest of America, yetthe majority of American college and university professors probably support the Administration's response to September 11 to one degree or another. I hope that Joseph Lieberman and Martin Peretz, both of whom I admire and agree with on many issues, will remove themselves from the board of that organization, whose conduct is an affrontto their dignity and intelligence.

ALAN E. STEINWEIS
Associate Professor of History and Judaic Studies
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

***

As I teach a chemistry course, it is not easy to make critical comments in class about this administration's treatment of civil liberties, but I confess, I thought about it. Surely those subversive thoughts are the equivalent of actions. At any rate, I am moved by Lieberman and Cheney's arguments to turn myself in. Perhaps there is a reward?

In fact I have gone further. I have made critical comments outside of class. I am sure I compared the United States to China at one time, saying something like: "Now there will be at least two countries where one can be tried in secret, and be sentenced with no appeal--China and the US." And I believe I remarked that giving up our liberties, in particular our right to speak and criticize freely, was a particularly poor response to the events of September 11. I am quite certain that I referred to Ashcroft as "Captain Kangaroo" in a conversation with a colleague. Does that qualify me for ACTA's subversive list? I hope so.

MAITLAND JONES JR.
David B. Jones Professor of Chemistry
Princeton University

***

I am an adjunct instructor at Indiana University, and I want to confess that tonight I wrote on the board a very subversive quote by Benjamin Franklin:

"Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech."

JEANETTE CASTILLO
Instructor, Department of Telecommunications
Indiana University

***

It was only when I saw the ACTA list of "no nos" compiled by Lynne Cheney that I realized that it was an honor roll that omitted me. Considering myself a good America, I thought I should have been there with others who stood for the ideals of American democracy and the virtues of the US Constitution and bill of rights.

Perhaps she did not know that--following Sir Michael Howard, the English-speaking world's leading historian of war--I thought the US government erred (on purpose) in calling September 11 an act of war rather than an act of terror or a criminal act. I thought, and still think, it makes a difference. And like the ACLU, among other patriotic groups, I have openly expressed my worry about the fate of civil liberities and the Bill of Rights as war talk and security talk enables what seems to me to be a kind of conservative opportunism: an opportunity to realize long-standing agendas to curtail individual rights, particularly legal and political rights.

So like the others in her list, I am guilty of believing in the American Constitution.

THOMAS BENDER
Professor of History, New York University

***

Include me among the professors (political science) that should be placed on the ACTA list as a "weak link" to the war stance of our government. During this entire fiasco there has been surprisingly little critical re-examination of our foreign policy and our "national interests" in the Arab world. We are now sowing what we have reaped by our missteps.

I am sure the taxpayers will pay well over $500 billion in bailouts, repairs, security measures and military costs--and still we have not addressed the underlying economic, political, social, religious and cultural causes of such hatred.

I feel no pride or patriotism in bombing and killing the second-poorest nation in the world, or limiting civil liberities in our own country--all to protect a bastardized definition of freedom.

REV. MICHAEL J. LUDDER
Political Science Professor, Santa Rosa Junior College

***

I too have acted in the spirit of true democracy and questioned aspects of the Administration's war on terrorism, especially since our government has been funding terrorist groups for decades (i.e., Nicaragua, Panama, Iraq, and even the Taliban as of six months ago). The false patriotism of blindly following leaders makes me sick and is an insult to what this country stands for, which is governing through informed consent and dialogue.

JASON SCORSE

***

  • Share
  • Decrease text size Increase text size

Before commenting, please read our Community Guidelines.