Tattletales for an Open Society | The Nation


Tattletales for an Open Society

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Please place me on your list of "weak links." I have said many things that could be interpreted as nonsupportive and suspicious of the way the "war on terrorism" is being conducted, and I frequently have disturbing thoughts about our President's intentions, legitimacy and even humanity. In addition, I am an artist, I read books and I live in the Northeast.

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Two weeks ago I told an unidentified hitchhiker that Osama is still dumber than Bush because he could have filled those planes with custard pie instead of gas and people and flown them in on Christmas Eve or when no one was there, and the statement would have won the hearts of millions of anti-WTO people. Instead, he chose to be a pig.

I feel better already.



I hereby report that I, Rev. William T Breeden, did say in a recent sermon that the distinction between "war" and "terrorism" was without a difference. I then expressed the obviously subversive opinion that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeldt and other masters of war are in fact war criminals and subject to trial for crimes against humanity. Furthermore, I suggested that Ashcroft is the greatest threat to democracy this nation has known in more than a half-century. I confess to aiding and abetting the enemies of this administration, i.e., democratic principles.



I am honored to have the opportunity to confess my intellectual and political sins to ACTA. However, I am more than a little disappointed to find so few ahead of me. Such a lack reflects not our fear of foreign agents but the perverse force of domestic repression.

I have urged students to think critically about our national policies, to wonder if they are our best path to a safer future, to consider the fate of thousands of noncombatants who have been killed and hundreds of thousands who have been displaced, to ponder the distance between the simplicity of our national rhetoric and the complexity of the problem, to decide if the abridgment of civil liberties does not make us more resemble those we pretend thereby to resist, and to wonder at the moral bathos of our national press coverage.

Some believe loyalty is best realized in silence, thoughtless compliance and cowboy revenge. I admit too that I am not one of those. What, to me, is best in this country's history is its dynamic capacity for self-criticism. While we have sometimes have acted in haste, we have always regretted these errors at leisure. The only appropriate response to this terrorism is to engage vibrantly the difficult issues and conditions that led to 9-11, to encourage, not stigmatize, debate and diversity of opinion. Let us not make our defense our defeat.

Professor, Occidental College


I would like to relieve the guilt that I feel for also not being a true American patriot. I am currently finishing my PhD in the modern history of the Middle East and South Asia, and I cannot go on the job market without making my future employers aware of my shameful thoughts and behavior. My first crime is to have been born to Muslim parents who actually practiced their religion and encouraged such subversive activities as speaking our native language and praying on a regular basis. As a Muslim with the audacity to call myself an American academic, I have not only openly criticized the bombing of a large civilian population but have pointed out to my students and peers the inconsistency of such government actions as calling the military action in Afghanistan a "war" but insisting that the prisoners captured are not "prisoners of war" with rights established by the Geneva Convention. Perhaps my descent into this spiral of nonconformity was unstoppable when I actually traveled to the Middle East (on government-funded grants, no less!) to learn the languages of America's "enemies" and then actually married one of "them"--a non-US-citizen Arab Muslim. Furthermore, I did not return the money the taxpayers had given to fund my training in a Strategic Language despite the fact that now I will not be using that language to further what men so much wiser and greater than I have declared to be the "best interests" of America. I am too far gone to be rehabilitated; I am not likely to change my religion, leave my husband or decide that my many friends and family are bloodthirsty cowards who fantasize daily about killing Americans. If ACTA can use its influence to secure a military tribunal for me, perhaps America can still be saved from the efforts of those like me, who insist on thinking critically and refusing to see a religion or a people as evil.

University of Chicago


I respectfully submit my name to Dick and Lynne Cheney, to be included in the blacklist of college professors daring enough to challenge our administration's monolithic thinking. I am not yet a college professor, alas, but as an instructor at Oregon State University, I have, in the context of a linguistic anthropology class, encouraged my students to pull apart such metaphors as "surgical strikes" or "They can shatter the steel of our buildings, but they cannot shatter the steel of our resolve." In various ways, through written assignments, in-class exercices, etc., I hope to have caused my students to question the necessity and wisdom of the "war on terrorism." So if there should be a blacklist, please put my name on it.

Instructor of Anthropology and French
Oregon State University


On September 13, 2001, after Mr. Bush's address to the nation, I made the following remarks to any and all colleagues who would listen:

"The terrorist attacks were deplorable and inexcusable. Doing away with terrorism is a wonderful goal. However, I see no sign that Mr. Bush is truly engaged in anything of the sort. Terrorism has not arisen as from a vacuum. It has causes and antecedents. Nothing in this administration's words and deeds indicates that it has any understanding of the true source of this foul tactic and tragedy.

"If the Administration were serious about ridding this planet of terrorism, it would first rein in the terrorist regime of Ariel Sharon by refusing to give it subsidies and weapons. Is it an accident that the WTC catastrophe took place during Mr. Sharon's induced intifada II (Mr. Sharon, the war criminal responsible for the Sabra and Shatilla massacres)? Is it an accident that it happened during this administration's hands-off approach to Israeli escalation and uncontrolled retaliatory attacks on homes, refugee camps and offices in the occupied territories?

"Is the Administration going to do anything about the terrorism that our military and aid abets in Latin America? I think thousands of civilians in Colombia would like to see that. So would many in Chiapas. Is the Administration going to release the information it holds concerning Condor and the car bombing of Mr. Lettelier and Ms. Moffitt on US soil? Is the Administration going to apologize to the people of El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, etc., for the terrorism the former administrations of Mr. Reagan and Mr. GHW Bush visited upon them? Is the Administration going to end the misery induced by the IMF throughout Latin America? Is the Administration going to apologize to the American people for the misery it and former administrations have visited upon our friends and neighbors in our name?"

As you can tell, this sort of talk can give considerable pause to any loyal American overcome with jingoistic fervor. One might actually want to learn a little something about events and issues in the Middle East before installing a fuel consuming flag on one's antenna. And perish the thought that one might buy a compact car instead of an SUV. Call out the heresy patrol!

Sincerely awaiting the splintering of my door and the arrival of not unexpected guests in the middle of the night, I remain, your conscientious snitch,



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