Tattletales for an Open Society | The Nation


Tattletales for an Open Society

  • Share
  • Decrease text size Increase text size

I would be honored to be included on ACTA's prestigious list of the politically incorrect. I fly our American flag. Not because I agree with the war against Afghanistan and the killing of its civilians but because I believe in our country and its wonderful Bill of Rights. Our United States Constitution is the thread that binds our nation. How frightening it would be to waken one morning without a free voice.

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

Surely we have not become apathetic to our hard-won constitutional rights. We must not allow ACTA and like organizations/minds to coerce us into submission to their politically conservative policies. They ride the wave of patriotism; banking on a current unquestioning unified emotional state hoping this will blind us to their opportunistic legislation.

I am not a faculty member of a college or university, but am a prospective teacher and, by golly, a card-carrying member of the ACLU.

Graduate Student, Elementary Education
Millersville University, Millersville, Pennsylvania


I am a PhD student in history at Stanford University, specializing in African social history. After reading the ACTA's initial report, I widely expressed my thoughts that the report was "anti-intellectual, a threat to critical and thoughtful debate and a call for the adandonment of true historical inquiry." I can't recall the date(s) on which I said such things. I have also stated that there is a difference between true patriotism and political, ideological isolationism. I have also been vocal about my lack of faith in our appointed President and Vice President, as well as Condaleezza Rice, both before 9/11 and after. I have failed to adandon my critical, analytical perspective after 9/11, and I do apologize for this.

In instructing undergraduates on the history of Africa, I have taught courses that could be construed as counter to the agenda of supporting Western civilization in our schools and universities. In fact, I have supported the inclusion of more Middle Eastern and African history courses in a mainstream, liberal arts curriculum. This was when I was at the University of Vermont. I have also taught students that Islam is a complex religion, and that African history even shows that there are many Islamic religious leaders who could be perceived as pacifists, such as Amadu Bamba. I apologize for confusing these impressionable undergraduates.

Lastly, I attended one of these infamous "teach-ins" at Stanford. I am particularly concerned about this, because it was orchestrated in part by Joel Beinin, president of the Middle Eastern Studies Association and professor of Middle Eastern history at Stanford. Professor Beinin, arguably one of the top specialist on Middle Eastern history in the United States, is on the ACTA's list of un-American academics.

Please stop me before I get hired at a small, liberal arts college or state university, where I am liable to hurt someone.

Stanford University


Bless me, Dr. Cheney and Senator Lieberman, for I have sinned. Honesty demands that I tattle on myself. I have failed to trust the generals, the CIA, the FBI, the crypto-fascist Attorney General or the dimwit who sits in the White House. I have stated publicly that the greatest terrorist organization in the history of the world is the government of the United States. Now, I feel better.

Professor of Psychology and Behavior Analysis
California State University, Sacramento


Just days after the 9/11 attacks, I was confronted with a personal test of my patriotism--and I failed.

While attending a campus-wide rally that sought to address the emotions and shock felt by the students and faculty at the University of Wisconsin, a speaker came to the podium and asked that we all join in saying the Pledge of Allegiance. For a moment, caught up in the fervor, I raised my hand to my chest and I opened my mouth to speak. But suddenly, in that moment, I could not remember the words! I had no idea how it went.

But that was not my failure. As I stood there, I glanced from side to side to see if I was the only one not speaking. All around me, people held their hands on their hearts and seemed to be passionately pledging...except the young man standing next to me. He was well dressed, had olive skin and a trimmed beard--I thought to myself: "Great! In this massive crowd, me and the terrorist are the only ones refusing to say the pledge!" We stood stood next to each other, dumbly, our hands at our sides.

And in that moment, my patriotism did fail. Instead of seeing a student or another American next me, I saw a potential threat. Times such as these bring out the worst of our fears; and in that moment I fell prey to the paranoia that weakens my personal convictions and eats at the fabric of our national unity.

Department of Communication Arts
The University of Wisconsin, Madison


I'm an artist, not an academic, but talking is teaching, so I could be a "weak link" too. Plus, the artists need a list to be on, since they've got pictures of the emperor in his new suit, and Lord knows what that could do to the chain...

Specific actions of which I'm guilty so far include asking questions about what we're doing in Afghanistan (and the Middle East in general), and why. In addition, when I get information that answers some question, or sheds some new light on the situation, I try my best to talk (teach) about it.

A free people should not only "speak truth to power"--they should encourage everyone else to speak it, sing it, paint it, dance it, live it... And while few may find truth, all can look for it and ask questions--we can choose to live as a free people--despite the shackles all of us invariably accept.

I hope your list will amplify our voices. If every honest person admitted to their "weakness," democracy would be stronger. Here is a way not only to respond to a threat, but also, by responding, to reduce it. Life is precious. If we don't claim it for our own, someone else will claim it in our name.

Eddyville, Oregon


I currently teach an undergraduate course called Religion, Culture and Media. Our topics would be considered highly subversive by Dr. Cheney and Senator Lieberman and I present some of them below:

XXXSLTSUXXXsect; a unit on various "fundamentalisms" worldwide, including the United States
XXXSLTSUXXXsect; in-depth analysis of the Christian fundamentalist discourse of Bush and Ashcroft
XXXSLTSUXXXsect; critique of media representations of Islamic women, the war on terrorism and ritualistic evocations of American nationalism.

Associate Professor of Anthropology
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


  • Share
  • Decrease text size Increase text size

Before commenting, please read our Community Guidelines.