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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 hereby confess to being a "weak link" (I'll follow the metaphor) in the chain (wrapped around the world?) that is the US In the fall, I deviated from "the study of our past," as Lynne Cheney put it "best," according to the ACTA report "Defending Civilization." I taught a class on a non-US topic, "The Development of the British Novel." Luckily, as I read the report, I learned that (at least some) British literature is civilized and can be included among "the great works of Western Civilization," but I was not off of the hook for long. My students and I, admittedly, read literature from the Caribbean and Africa, and the report does not make clear how much of a violation such subversive novels as Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart might be. To implicate myself further, on the Friday prior to September 11, I showed a video called Orientalism that focuses on Edward Said's famous scholarly book by the same title. This video contains a photograph of Palestinians and Israelis standing together, holding signs that say in English, "Palestinians for Peace" and "Israelis for Peace." I, like the people in the photograph, also favor peace and told my students so.

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ELIZABETH RICH
Department of English, Saginaw Valley State University

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I apologize for being unable to indict myself with exact phrases, but I know I have asked unpatriotic questions of my students in my community college writing classes. (The virus has spread beyond the universities!) I have certainly quoted Dr. Johnson: Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Does comparing the Attorney General to J. Edgar Hoover count?

KEITH AUBREY
Everett Community College
Everett, Washington

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I'm an American citizen living in Europe, where I am in good company criticizing my government. I am also young (23), and that makes me dangerous. According to my diary, I have said the following things:

XXXSLTSUXXXsect;XXXSLTSUXXXnbsp;On September 14, 2001, I said, in response to a query from a French friend about the attacks, "Yes, they were horrifying and dramatic and unbelievable, but in the end not surprising to me. The US is in fact the biggest terrorist state of this century, and really it was only a matter of time before we were attacked."

XXXSLTSUXXXsect;XXXSLTSUXXXnbsp;On October 14, 2001, I said "Oh, please don't say that, I'm already embarrassed to be an American."

XXXSLTSUXXXsect;XXXSLTSUXXXnbsp;On November 1, 2001, I said to my friend here in Paris, "Man, for all the 'sanctity of human life' speeches the right-wingers in the US throw at us at every turn, they always turn out to be pretty eager to maim and kill you with bombs if your particular human life happens to be poor, female, of color, or foreign."

I tried to include the most representative examples of my dissent for my application to The Tattletales list, because there probably wouldn't be room on this entire site for all of the "unpatriotic" things I've said. Also, I am not an "academic," I've had only two years of college, but after reading the contributions here from the good men and women at American universities, I have decided to go back to school there. Who knew the populus was still alive and kicking?

Guilty and grimly grinning,

EMILY C. ROMUND

***

I am only a small-town internal medicine physician. However, I do at times teach nursing students and nurses informally. In addition, I was once a teacher of chemistry at Langston College in Oklahoma and Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois. I grew up on a farm, live in the country, own a shotgun, hunt and fish and eat meat. I am not a pacifist. Nevertheless, I have often expressed my dismay at the use of banana-republic-like military tribunals in lieu of our judicial system. I am appalled at the dismissive attitude toward civil liberties by the Bush Administration. John Ashcroft's assertion that any dissent concerning the war on terrorism aids and abets our enemies is offensive and in my opinion is one of the most despicable statements ever made by a Cabinet member. Please do me the honor of including me on your list.

ROBERT N RICE
Ft. Morgan, Co.

***

My son and some of my best friends are academics, but I can only count myself vicariously in that group. My real job is carpentry, so I may qualify as one of the few blue-collar targets that presents itself for the slings and arrows of ACTA. I hereby confess that I am guilty of subversion and sedition (as defined by that right-thinking bastion) to a degree that certainly must bring down shame upon my otherwise studly trade.

I have been guilty of tuning the jobsite radio to Democracy Now!, and of talking with disdain during coffee and lunch breaks about the imperious, illegal, barbaric and counterproductive ways that the US has responded to the events of September 11. When asked pointedly by those I work with what my recommendations for an appropriate response would have been, I suggest (subversively) that we might have more sanely pursued a large-scale criminal investigation without bombs, openly developing evidence and leads before the manhunt began, and testing the Taliban's offer to turn over bin Laden if proof were presented. I have actually gained some support in my conservative work environment for the concept that, ethics aside, this multibillion-dollar "war" has been infinitely more costly in every way than this lower-keyed alternative approach. Blue-collar types don't like it when someone blows their hard-earned money in such a profligate manner, even if it did feel good at the beginning.

BRUCE F. COLE
Camden, Maine

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I would like to add my name to the list of tattlers. I am a professor of English at Purdue University and a novelist. Since September 11, I have made my opposition to the war known by attending and speaking at a peace rally, participating weekly in a meeting of the Lafayette Area Peace Coalition, writing three letters to the editor of the local paper and organizing a three-day trip to the SOA WATCH vigil at the gates of Ft. Benning in Columbus, Georgia. Within two weeks we will hold a teach-in at which I will present the community with a petition urging Congress to establish a Truth Commission to thoroughly examine all the ways the United States has contributed to the rise of terrorism since World War II. Our Lafayette Area Peace Coalition has drawn the conclusion that we will never defeat terrorism until we, as a nation, understand what we have done to create it.

PATRICIA HENLEY
Department of English, Purdue University

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I, Eddie Jackson, being of sound mind and body, would like to add myself to your list. I am a computer technician for the Saline Area Schools, near the University of Michigan, and I have, on every available opportunity, tried to bring sanity to an insane situation for the students I work with. I have often railed against the "ugly American" thirst for revenge that has been fostered in the wake of 9/11 (sometimes by teachers in this very school). I have pointed out our government's own failings in the art of foreign policy and tried to point out better ways that our nation could handle this "War on Terrorism."

EDDIE JACKSON
Hardware/Software Repair Technician
Saline Area Schools, Michigan

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