The following have offered themselves for inclusion on the ACTA’s public list of those with the nerve to question aspects of the Bush Administration’s war on terrorism. We’ll be adding additional comments in the days ahead.
“Former Yankee virtues, common sense, scepticism if not suspicion of authority, a belief in the mastery of the future, have been driven underground. Diffuse but pervasive authority, a desperate, no obsessional insistence on national solidarity, and near total obedience to authority, constitute the national temper.” With these words I began a “Letter From Washington” which has been published and read widely in Europe,not least by academics, officials, parliamentarians and publicists–and by several heads of government. I’ve also been interviewed on television and radio in several countries, and occasionally asked about ACTA’s list of transgressors. I replied, generally, that Ashcorft was a far greater danger–but that they were supinely doing his work. Surely, I belong on their list.
Professor of Law
Georgetown School of Law
I would like to name my own name–Claire Potter, Associate Professor of History and American Studies, Wesleyan University. On the day that the United States initiated the bombing of Afghanistan, I attended a peace rally run by our students. With other faculty and students, I walked up to a microphone and announced my name, followed by “and I am against the war,” as I had been asked to do by the organizers. Subsequently, I facilitated a teach-in for faculty and students on peace movements in the United States, during which I told students that they should expect that the government would, as it had in the past, use its police powers to abridge their Constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties to suppress dissent. I also raised questions about how their stance of complete nonviolence might be affected if they, as they should expect to be, became the objects of physical violence by the police during the course of a public protest.
Please add me to your list, as I am not a full professor yet, and am much too unimportant to fall into ACTA’s net all by myself.
Associate Professor, History and American Studies
I wish to add my name to the list. I imagine that public high schools fly under the radar of the ACTA and so I am willing to forgive their oversight in my case. Since the events of 9/11 I have taught several lessons critical of the government response and the media coverage of the aftermath. As well, I have openly questioned our military actions and have presented points of view that offer alternatives to war. And finally, I passed out an article that raised the issue of government foreknowledge of the attacks and called for an investigation.
English teacher, Clayton Valley High School
I am humbly submitting my name to the ACTA to sadly report myself as a campus radical. Over the last several months, I have dabbled in fostering discussion around the “p-word”: pacifism. The dental professor who called me at my place of work was right to harass me and tell me he hoped my “movement” would fail. The repeated e-mails I received were also effective in outing me, forcing me to admit my crimes to the ACTA. I can only hope that once the academy is an environment completely devoid of intelletual discourse or even a variety of opinion, you will remember that I repented before it was too late to save my soul from free thought.
Recent graduate, University of Missouri-Kansas City
Member of the TEA Society (Society for Teaching Educational Activism)
Please add my name to your list of unpatriotic academic subversives.
On October 5, 2001 I gave a talk to fifty or sixty members of the Auburn University student body, titled “Crimes Against Humanity and Acts of War.” I argued that no matter how heinous Osama bin Laden’s crimes, it would be morally wrong to bomb Afghanistan and risk civilian lives. We would not bomb Queens because we believed a mob leader was hiding there, even if the local police force was not cooperating with federal investigators. For the same reason, we should not bomb Afghanistan. I made similar remarks in the classes I teach, and I also spoke out against the violations of civil liberties that the war effort has brought.
For some reason, my attempts to corrupt the youth and undermine the war effort failed, and the United States began bombing Afghanistan in short order. Nevertheless, my efforts were clearly unpatriotic, and I deserve to be on any enemies list compiled by ACTA, or whoever Joe McCarthy’s successors are today. I am part of the legion of untenured, temporary, and adjunct professors who do the bulk of the undergraduate teaching in this country. Clearly I am not important enough to attract the attention of the likes of Lynn Cheney or Joseph Lieberman on my own. But collectively, we adjunct professors have an influence on society, and our subversive activities should not go unnoticed.
Department of Philosophy
Sorry to say, I’m not that radical. I’m a published military historian who believes that the war against Afghanistan was poorly planned, has killed many more people than we have been led to believe, the vast majority of whom I doubt had anything to do with September 11, and has failed dismally to capture the one person, Osama bin Laden, whom America has a fair capital case against. Knowledge of, and democratic discourse about, this inept and immoral behavior is being squashed by the supine media and people like Dr. Cheney and Senator Lieberman who prefer ad hominen attacks and poorly veiled threats to a reasoned presentation of various viewpoints. Deep in the Western tradition, which these paragons contend they are defending, is the idea that the first step towards knowledge is the statement, “I don’t know.” Not only do Cheney and Lieberman want us to prejudge the situation (“Bush is right, all doubters wrong”), they are actively seeking to silence dissent. Those who love freedom, whatever they think of this war, should not allow themselves to be cowed.
JAMES P. LEVY
Adjunct Assistant Professor of History
In November, at a student honors forum at which I served as co-faculty moderator, I pointed out that the A dministration’s definition of terrorism is woefully narrow. To wit: If Osama bin Laden had used his millions to purchase General Electric, or Enron, he could have eliminated thousands of jobs and easily ruined fifty times more lives than the attack on the World Trade Center. For his troubles, he would have been hailed as a paragon of venture capitalism, and probably could have inked a multimillion-dollar book deal, as Jack Welch has done.
Had bin Laden played to the cheap seats, and used his daddy’s millions in a Republican-sanctioned manner, he could have executed 152 Texans and been honored as a practitioner of the political philosophy of Jesus Christ Our Lord, as well as someone who was “tough on crime.”
Did somebody say “workfare”?
And in my US history survey class, I took care to mention the names Sharon, Pinochet and Kissinger (he of the Agent Orange and carpet bombing), and took note of the lethal interventions in Iran ’53, Lebanon ’58, Dominican Republican ’65, Vietnam ’63-’75, Cambodia and Laos ’70, Somalia ’92, Iraq ’91-present, Serbia ’99, and Palestine (via proxy state) ’67-present to suggest that, as A.J. Muste knew fifty-nine years ago, “war is the enemy,” and terror (in all its many manifestations) begets terror. We have tried crusading, and it led to September 11, and no we didn’t “deserve” it, any more than the Palestinian 2-year-olds with American-funded bullets in their brains (I’ve seen them, folks) deserved that, either. It is time that America practices a more creative, less predictable foreign policy, and like Dr. Sherwin, I hope Cheney and Lieberman spell my name right.
ROBERT M. ZECKER
Department of History XXXSLTSUXXXamp; Program in American Studies
My name is Steve Cook, PhD, Oregon State University. I teach Environmental Conservation, mostly. I encourage my classes to use critical thinking, and as an example, I highlight the lies we were fed by the military during the Gulf War, lies that were only repudiated years later. I say, “If you get your information from Donald Rumsfeld, the US military or from CNN, which has correspondents and photographers riding in approved military vehicles, then you aren’t getting accurate information. Use critical thinking.”
I also have a series of political cartoons pointing out our contracting civil rights under the Bush Administration posted next to my office door under a bumper sticker which reads, “If you aren’t outraged, you aren’t paying attention.”
Instructor of Geography
Oregon State University
During the final week of class in December, I said to my students, that because of recent events in the Justice Department and the organization created by Cheney and Lieberman, “I advise you to go out and buy a copy of the US Constitution and read it carefully.”
Department of English
University of Oregon
I openly confess that during a class I was teaching in Biostatistics and Medical Research Methods at Seton Hall University, I made an off-the-cuff remark that the United States should be more circumspect in its definition of terrorism since the actions of our own government (El Salvador, Guatemala, inter alia) could easily fall within the parameters.
DR. GREG CABLE
Research Scientist in Clinical Medicine
Director of Research
Atlantic Health System
Please include my name on the list of academics that have publicly criticized some aspects of the “war on terrorism.” I am not a professional teacher or lecturer and am not affiliated with any university; however, I hold a Masters Degree in History, I am conversant in three languages and I have publicly criticized those aspects of the “war” that I believe are exploitive, prejudicial and harmful to the fabric of American society. Furthermore, I have supplemented superficial and sometimes misleading government and media information with my own research of numerous published authorities as well as the foreign press, and I have disseminated the resulting information to a large number of people. To make matters worse, I have failed to associate myself with the peace movement in this country, which I believe has reacted to the “war on terrorism” in a superficial, knee-jerk manner that fails to address the complexity of the situation. I know it is a lot to ask, but if we can modify the criteria of this list to include essentially any educated member of society, who fails to accept everything the government says and does, then please add me to it. Hopefully as the list evolves it will contain the names of every member of society who criticizes the government, not just academics.
On several occasions, both public and private, I have questioned the wisdom of our military involvement. I have said: “Why don’t we pursue bin Laden as we do criminals here? We don’t bomb our local suburbs when we think a murderer is hiding in one of the houses, so why bomb a whole country to retaliate against one man?”
I have also said: “Why did the European powers decide that giving Palestine to the Jews was the best compensation for the Holocaust? Rationally speaking, they should have been given Bavaria. That would have prevented many of the current problems in the Middle East.”
I have also publically stated various other points, including the importance of questioning the government’s actions as an exercise and demonstration of the workings of democracy.
If I can recall any other statements verbatim, I’ll let you know. I’d like ot point out that I am both a faculty member an an administrator.
Chair, Humanities Department, Midlands Technical College
I’m turning myself in on suspicion of “unpatriotic” criticism of mistrust and surveillance. My criticisms weren’t of post-9/11 Administration efforts per se, but rather of our society’s growing distrust and disrespect of personal liberty.
On December 8 I published a column in the Austin American-Statesman, questioning the constant demands for showing IDs.
On January 9, I wrote an angry email to Dollar rent-a-car, protesting their (now reversed) policy of requiring renters to give thumbprints.
Tomorrow, January 15, I will violate the University of Texas’s policy on proctoring exams by having my Business Calculus (M403K) class vote on implementing an honor code.
LORENZO A. SADUN
Department of Mathematics, University of Texas, Austin
A couple months ago I discovered what the ACTA had done. Without being prompted to do so I did what apparently many others have done. I asked to be included on the list. I told them it would be a badge of honor. I submitted the following comments from an editorial I wrote in November for my school’s newspaper. The topic was right-wing political correctness and conservative media bias. I’m proud to submit this to The Nation‘s collection.
“These limited examples represent but a small fraction of the conservative political correctness that rules the day. It has been repeated that if we sacrifice our freedoms in the face of this tragedy then the terrorists have won. Well, these religious fascists and their idiotic jihad have not come close to winning. But if current practices on the American right are any indication, the fascists have a familiar ally.”
Chicago-Kent College of Law
Co-Chair, Chicago-Kent National Lawyers Guild
I am a PhD student and instructor of history at West Virginia University. I am writing in an effort to publicize the threat I present to the American Way.
XXXSLTSUXXXsect; I took part in an anti-war march from the WVU student union to the Monongalea County courthouse.
XXXSLTSUXXXsect; I cautioned my students (on the Friday following September 11) to repudiate nativism, jingoism, and any notion of collective guilt particularly in regard to persons of Arab, Middle Eastern, Central Asian or any other descent, and noted that Islam is no more guilty of the crimes of September 11 than is Christianity of the Oklahoma City bombing.
XXXSLTSUXXXsect; I taught my students that American history is not (or at least not just) a story of brave and noble men and women striving for perfection in a promised land. In fact, I made a special point of slavery, the slaughter of the Indians, the subjugation of women and the struggles of the lower classes for economic and political freedom.
I realize that I am not the biggest threat faced by patriotic American heroes, but I do tend to eschew violence in all its forms and tell true stories about the history of this country. Surely that is worth something!
GREGORY L. McDONALD
West Virginia University
I wish to submit myself for inclusion in the ACTA list. I am a homemaker, and as such, I am my children’s first and best teacher. I have discussed the current “War on Terrorism” in depth with my children. I have challenged them to explain to me how the deaths of innocent people in another country will avenge our own innocent dead. I refuse to fly the flag on my house. I have explained the meaning of “jingoism” to my children. Surely I am a dangerous subversive, and guilty of eroding our national unity!
JULIA VAN DYKE
I must declare myself. On January 11, 2002, I remarked openly to an employee of the federal government that as best I was able to determine, on the basis of historical knowledge and evidence, the United States did not appear to be fighting any kind of “war” at all.
AJ PLOTKE, PhD
Great War Primary Documents Archive
I admit it, I believe in human rights, the Bill of Rights and our precious civil liberties. What’s more, I believe that our society would be far better off if we taught children about their civil liberties instead of the shameless manipulation of their beings that has become the order of the day in so many classrooms. The work I have done has taught me that many educators fear teaching students about their civil rights because they think somehow that chaos would ensue if young people were well informed of the rights guaranteed to them by our Constitution. No wonder, then, that it is so easy now for rights to be limited or taken away without any sort of public outcry. In addition, creating lists such as the one created by ACTA has the effect of making people fear speaking out in protest to what’s happening. The only way to defeat such actions is for every one of us–all university faculty–to stand up proudly and say “Add my name to the list, please!”
Associate Professor, University of Redlands
Although I now teach at a Canadian university, I was recently an Assistant professor of sociology and political science at Johns Hopkins University. I am still a US citizen.
I have repeatedly criticized the US war on terrorism in recent weeks, typically in front of my undergraduate lecture class, “The Sociology of State Repression.” I have said on a number of occasions that global inequality breeds terrorism; that the US is also guilty of significant war crimes; and that these crimes are rarely covered in US newspapers.
I published two articles critical of US foreign policy in the Middle East and elsewhere. In both, I argued that the effect of US-led sanctions on Iraq has been horrific, and that this is the source of much anti-US sentiment in the Arab world. I also said that US support for Israeli land colonization policies is another cause of Arab sentiment.
I plan to continue to make such statements as often as possible.
Canada Research Chair in Conflict and Human Rights
Department of Sociology, McGill University
I would like to submit my name to ACTA’s prestigious list. I am an American Studies graduate student at Lehigh University studying Marxist theory and media criticism. Since 9/11 I have helped organize and participate in several teach-ins on campus. I also designed and penned flyers which were distributed all through campus denouncing the coming “War on Terror” as well as informing students and faculty to the history behind 9/11, US state-sponsored terrorism, and the war on drugs (which is crucially linked to the war on terror). Despite being mauled each day by signs and bumper stickers which denounce my politics (and denounce democracy at that!) I will still continue to speak my mind and stay true to the Marxist dialectical form of understanding. I feel the words of Antonio Gramsci are extremely pertinent to radicals and true progressives right now: “Illusion is the most tenacious weed in the collective consciousness; history teaches, yet has no pupils.
Graduate student, American Studies
I want to alert ACTA that–though they have appointed themselves to monitor faculty and alumni–there are many itinerant agitators on American campuses. I occasionally teach and lecture on college campuses and have made a number of statements in recent months about the immorality and hypocrisy of our current military aggression. In fact, I made statements about the illegitimacy of the President’s election well before he started this war. I’m very likely to do this again in lectures and classes this spring. Please don’t limit your organization’s venue to those privileged to hold tenure or academic appointments, but keep an eye on other intellectuals, scholars, activists and artists in our communities.
SALLIE TISDALE, writer
I’m sure the NSA has already read sufficiently alarming e-mails coming from me to secure at least a file in their vast databases. Still, I would be honoured to be on your list. I live in Ireland where I find it increasingly embarrassing to be a US citizen. I also lost a good friend on September 11. She was on the first plane that crashed into the WTC. While I grieve for her, I did not lose my judgment when she lost her life.
When I read that the US Government did not feel obliged to honour the Geneva Convention with respect to the Afghani prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, I could scarcely believe it. I was used to hearing such mouthings from the lips of Third World Dictators and the like. And then I saw a poll on CNN’s website today, where 91 percent of the respondents believed the Afghani prisoners were being treated appropriately. How could they possibly know? The authorities could be doing anything they like to them and no one would ever find out. Perhaps people will recall all the things we learned when the press was finally allowed into Grenada.
If Court-appointed President Bush can get away with this now, how far a reach is it before he suspends elections? Appoints himself President for life? Ridiculous, you say? If someone told me the US Government would ever openly decline to honour the Geneva Convention, I would have said that was ridiculous.
Turning myself in,
Thus far, we’ve succeeded in toppling the Taliban, and roughly 4,000 innocent Afghani civilians, with thousands more likely to die as the result of our destruction of roads, hospitals and general infrastructure. Is this justice? Will it really make us more secure, or will it deepen the spiral of violence?
Remarks made at a peace rally at Riverside Community College
Sponsored by Students for Progressive Alternatives
November 26, 2001
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
I am reporting myself. I have written both my senators and representative about the ongoing erosion of our civil liberties that their silence is condoning. I also stood on a downtown Seattle street peacefully protesting my country’s foreign policy. Actually, I feel it is my duty to speak out against opportunistic executive orders and legislation that is being implemented under the shady cover of the fight against terrorism. Thank you for giving me the chance to turn myself in. I feel so much better.
Though I am only a high school student, I feel as though the creators of the ACTA list may fear me as much as any university professor. Since the events of 9/11 first occured, I have spoken with my peers and close adults about my opposition to a war. I have repeatedly asserted, most recently in an interview for a teen column in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, my concern regarding the violation of necessary civil liberties within this nation and the effects of war and bombings on an impoverished Afghani population. If Senator Lieberman and Dr. Cheney harbor anxiety about the proliferation of these beliefs by university professors, they should consider a student’s potential that much more potent.
Senior, J.R. Tucker High School
Having read Dr. Sherwin’s letter on the back cover of the January 21 issue, I turned to ACTA’s website to review the organization’s material. I found it quite ironic that some of the most forceful statements throughout the website support academic freedom and stand diametrically opposed to the message in the unsigned article in the fall newsletter, Inside Academe, to which Dr. Sherwin is responding. I find it hard to believe that ACTA feels that it can have it both ways; either the organization supports free thought and free speech or it doesn’t. I may not have the wording exactly right, but I seem to remember that Justice Holmes argued that the significance of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution was that it protected freedom of thought not just for those who agree with us, but freedom for the thought we hate. I am no longer teaching, but if I were, my students would certainly be critically exploring a great many dimensions of the situation our nation finds itself in since September 11. Please sign me up as a Tattletale.
RICHARD K. RAMSDELL
retired Humanities teacher, Flint Central High School
I am an American who teaches European Politics at the Uuniversity of Liverpool. I received a copy of your open letter via e-mail. I would like to commend Martin Sherwin for his stand. I would also like to let you know that all of the concerns he mentions in his open letter (repression of academics, arrest of Muslims, secret military tribunals, creation of anti-American lists, etc.) are openly discussed with growing concern by students, academics and, increasingly, the mass media in the UK. The British government has done all it could to “stand shoulder to shoulder” with the US government, but even it is beginning to have reservations and concerns. If the strategies of the “war on terrorism” are beginning to raise concerns in one of the USA’s staunchest allies, imagine their impact elsewhere.
School of Politics and Communications
University of Liverpool
In all the naming of names, I feel that mine should be mentioned. I am a student, and a non-American, yet this is hardly grounds upon which to reject my sincerity, as terrorists are never nationals anyway.
I have chosen to name myself because I do not approve of the actions taken by the United States government in the war against terrorism.In fact, I have even gone so far as to create enemies in my small redneck town by suggesting that”the United States contains a sinister government that uses its huge economical power to purchase politicians that in turn lobby for the wars it carries out, and from which its businessmen advantageously seek profits.” I have also opened my mouth to hear phrases such as “No, I don’t like George Bush or his dogs” and “I wish it didn’t turn out so lucky with the pretzel” escape, yet I still feel no remorse. However, I come from the equally, if not more, democratic nation of Australia, so I should theoretically be able to speak such crude wisdom without any fear of McCarthyesque reprisals.
I would also like to make it clear to the ACTA that in the past year I have had strong connections to a Palestinian-Australian who has shared with me his deep and bitter hate of the US because of its role in Israel’s Palestinian genocide. This in turn helps him to heal the pain of having a 6-year-old cousin butchered by Israeli soldiers.Yet for this much I hope I am not arrested.
I have also protested at one of the antiglobalization movement’s protests staged around the world in recent times. If the ACTA does not understand this action fully, then I will explain to them that it means I am an active force against the imperialist tactics of the US government. I continue, even after September 11, to pursue my dream of being an active force in destroying the narcissistic power of the world’s number one rogue state. I hope to draw the attention of the ACTA to concerns from much of the world that itisindeed also participating in anti-American activities, and that if they want to list everyone then they shall subject our planet to a lengthy documentation process which will eventually be as pointless as caring about un-American activities in the first place.
Surely I must be considered a threat to US national security, as I one day seriously hope to be. (I think I’ve ruined all chances of ever getting a visa now, dammit!)
Student, University of Wollongong
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.
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.
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.
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.
Social Science instructor, Everett Community College
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.
Assistant Professor of Political Science
University of New Orleans
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.
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
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
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.”
Instructor, Department of Telecommunications
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.
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.
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.
Department of English, Saginaw Valley State University
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?
Everett Community College
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
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.
Department of English, Purdue University
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.”
Hardware/Software Repair Technician
Saline Area Schools, Michigan
I believe it is necessary to add myself to the ACTA list of academics who have questioned the War on Terrorism. While I am not a professor, I am a student at the Evergreen State College and I have discussed with fellow students my displeasure with countless aspects of the “war on terrorism.” Since one of the basic tenets at Evergreen states is that students and faculty learn from each other, then I believe that I may have an impact on the opinions of fellow students and professors.
Comments that I have made include criticism of the excessive loss of life in Afghanistan, of the excessive measures of John Ashcroft’s Justice Department, of the spreading of the war on terrorism to the Philippines and of the US’s foreign policy of repression and subjugation of other nations since the end of World War II.
Clearly comments of this nature make me dangerous and warrant my listing with ACTA.
Evergreen State College Senior
I confess that I have undermined the war effort in my classrooms, in the campus newspaper and in public forums devoted to the attacks and their repercussions. I admit I encouraged my students and the campus community to emulate the example set by Socrates when facing his execution. Dr. Cheney’s wise words force me to realize that only postmodernist/relativist madness can come from statements like, “I cannot abandon the principles I held in the past simply because this event has happened to me; I respect the same principles now as before. So unless we can find better principles on this occasion, you can be sure I won’t agree with you.” My perverse interpretation of this claim saps the strength of the war effort. Socrates could not have meant, as I irresponsibly claimed he did, that our values should not be abandoned in the face of violence and threat. Socrates would never argue that our respect for human rights, due process and the canons of evidence, or the distinction between combatants and civilians, should survive an attack on our own people. After all, war is war, and justice is best served by protecting one’s own at any cost–only those ignorant of the fundamental truths passed down by the canon of Western thought could think otherwise.
Worse, I encouraged attempts to understand the motives and beliefs of the terrorists, going so far as to write and say that they were neither evil nor insane. I foolishly thought that understanding the motives of the enemy might help us avoid future attacks, but now realize that the terrorists along with all their allies and supporters (including unwitting intellectual fellow travelers) are unquestionably, incomprehensibly evil. Worse yet, on November 18 in a forum on civil liberties and security convened by the university administration (the corruption, as Dr. Cheney knows so well, goes high), I publicly questioned the wisdom of the USA-Patriot Act as well as the wholesale detainment of immigrants, comparing the mindless fervor for security these actions represents to the Alien-Sedition Acts, the Espionage Acts of 1917, the internment of Japanese-Americans, McCarthyism and CoIntelPro. I was speaking at that meeting in my official capacity as assistant professor of political science, and expect to be properly chastised for my disloyalty to the Bush Administration, my unfashionable attachment to the ideals of an open society, my disparagement of the Attorney General and my blatant attempts to corrupt the youth of our nation.
Department of Government, University of Redlands
Yes, I am guilty, and not just of a few careless remarks. In early November 2001 I distributed to the students in my Fall 2001 Adolescent Psychology class a handout I had prepared entitled “September 11 and After” that included the following discussion topics:
“Morality. Moral maturity is generally seen as consisting, at least in part, of a principled morality, such as Kohlberg’s Level III (Stages 5 and 6). To qualify as moral, a principle must be universalizable. That is, it must be a principle you think everyone, including you, should follow. The September 11 hijackers deliberately killed thousands of people as part of an ongoing campaign by those they worked with to realize their shared religious and political purposes. The United States subsequently began bombing Afghanistan and, as of early November, it appears that many innocent people, perhaps hundreds, have been killed. UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson warned in October that if the US bombing of Afghanistan continues it will soon be too late to resume humanitarian efforts before winter, in which case hundreds of thousands of innocent people will likely die of starvation. What are the appropriate principles for deciding what to do in cases of this sort and for evaluating the actions and choices of others?”
“Academic freedom. Shortly after Sept. 11, the Nebraska Board of Education rediscovered and reactivated the state’s 1949 ‘Americanism’ law by writing it into its accreditation rules. The rules now highlight the requirement that the citizenship curriculum ‘includes instruction in the US and Nebraska Constitution, the benefits and advantages of our government, the dangers of Nazism, communism and similar ideologies, the duties of citizenship and the appropriate patriotic exercises.’ How do these requirements square with principles of academic freedom?”
Professor of Educational Psychology
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Were it not for open heart surgery in September, less than a week after the World Trade Center tragedy, I too might have qualified for inclusion in Dr. Cheney’s and Sen. Lieberman’s list, but so far my opinions have remained unaccomplished and sheltered in relative seclusion. However, I return to the classroom this spring, where an open society is always the goal, and I sincerely hope at that time to qualify fully for the honor. An alumna, in fact, has brought the opportunity to my attention, one whose intellect and informed conviction represent what education ought to be about. So I would like to tattle on my own silent thought crimes and promise my intent, that I may in some small way help weaken the links chaining us to outrageous and largely unexamined purpose. If enough of us rattle, perhaps the drone of univocality may pause, the conquest of difference may abate, the conventions of Geneva may prevail, the sacrifice of liberty to security may be questioned, and the globalized boundary erasures and targetings in Iraq and beyond may cease. Less likely is that the massive destruction at the merest scent of bin Laden’s reputed former presence might be called into account. More hopeful is that in a world of words, slippage in terms like hero and terrorist might be contained. Common sense and the courage to speak have never been more needed. I look forward to lending my voice to the effort and to earning the privilege of inclusion in Tattlers for an Open Society. As Thoreau once suggested, the question for people of conscience in the presence of injustice is never why are you in jail but why are you not.
JAMES D. GRAY
Professor of English
Austin College Sherman, Texas
As director of the Freedom of Information Center at the University of Missouri and instructor of a graduate course, Controls of Information, I have uttered treasonous remarks questioning Ashcroft’s policies right here in his home state! I have no excuse absent a liberal indoctrination at America’s left-leaning university system. As penance, I will tattoo a flag wherever The Nation deems it necessary.
CHARLES N. DAVIS
Executive Director, News-Editorial
Missouri School of Journalism
As a Canadian professor of sociology living and working in the US for several years, and now at the University of Alaska in Anchorage (UAA), one of the most conservative states in the US, I have found myself the target of harassment from people within and without the university because of my publicly declared stance of Nonviolence towards the events of Sept. 11th. I, along with other students, faculty and staff, initially circulated a petition letter opposing a letter circulated by the President of the University, Mark Hamilton (a former military general), who in our minds advocated strong violent retaliation, something we felt was irresponsible for someone in such a position at an educational institution. We subsequently organized a very successful all day teachin. I am now facilitating a discussion group exploring Nonviolence on my own time, and the philosophy and strategy/action of Nonviolence is incorporated into many of my sociology classes. I am saddened that US students are predominantly exposed to the history and daily experiences of violence in school but particularly through media and the political and economic US leadership. I am trying to change this.
WILMA VAN DER VEEN
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Sociology
University of Alaska, Anchorage
In a proper spirit of self-criticism, I confess that I have encouraged my students (and, occasionally, colleagues) to read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights so that they can be aware of the precious gifts that the Founders devised for us. I have reminded them that the authors of the Constitution were less worried about foreign threats than by an accretion of power by the federal government. In a more radical mood, I have even directed them to the Declaration of Independence, with its references to “truths to be self-evident” and “all men” (not just citizens.) And–yes, I confess it–I have quoted Benjamin Franklin: Those who think they can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Knowing of ACTA’s support for the teaching of American history, I thought it was all right to do these things, but it seems that some people find American history to be a bit uncomfortable. And–I am making a full confession here–I have also turned to the lessons of WWII. On my office door is the following:
In Germany, they first came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew, Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak up.XXXSLTSUXXXnbsp;XXXSLTSUXXXnbsp;XXXSLTSUXXXnbsp;–Pastor Martin Niemoller
Pastor Niemoller spent several years in a Nazi concentration camp. Frightening, isn’t it?
DOROTHY H. BRACEY
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
City University of New York
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.
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.
EMILY S. BURRILL
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.
JOSEPH E. MORROW
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.
ROBERT GLENN HOWARD
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.
KIKO DENZER, artist
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
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.
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.
REV. WILLIAM T BREEDEN
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.
DANIEL D. FINEMAN
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,
I would like to seize this opportunity to force myself onto the ACTA list. Yes, I do NOT fully support the government’s war on terrorism. I am aghast at the alacrity which our “leaders” throw out Constitutional protections when they become inconvenient for the “prosecution” of the “war” on terrorism. (Interesting that the war isn’t one when it comes to the prisoners.)
Unfortunately, I believe I screwed up my chance to tattle on myself by sending e-mails to both Atty General Ashcroft and Senator Orrin Hatch, chastising them for their retreat to that pitiful Vietnam war era tripe about criticism giving support to the enemy, and further suggesting that dissent was a hallmark of the American way. I assume that these anti-American sentiments gained me a spot on some list, perhaps not ACTA’s.
Anyway, on the off-chance that my remarks failed to reach the ears of ACTAns pressed against some wall or other:
“I do not support the wholesale abrogation of rights of entire ethnic classes.
I do not support the idea of military tribunals on offshore islands.
I do not support the re-election of Joseph Lieberman to the Senate.”
Professor, Ecology XXXSLTSUXXXamp; Evolutionary Biology
University of Connecticut
I am part of the massive part-time/adjunct labor pool. I teach introductory philosophy, and I cannot begin to enumerate all of the dangerous and politically threatening questions and comments I offer in the course of a class in which I am expected to raise important and difficult questions for my students. Nevertheless, I want to make the degree of my guilt in this matter clear to ACTA, so I will try to enumerate some of my more telling “evil deeds” (or is that “evil thoughts”?). When discussing the definition of “human,” I suggested that the definition is often political, and used the war in Afghanistan to illustrate some of the ways in which certain “humans” are more valuable than others. When discussing philosophy of language, we examined the way in which vague definition can serve political ends, and used the notoriously vague term “terrorist” as an example. In discussing the concept of collective responsibility, I compared the war in Afghanistan to similar US actions in Latin America and Asia, and dared to ask whether we, as citizens, share responsibility for the misdeeds of our government (which of course begs the question: “Are we harboring terrorists?”). As you can see, my dedication to open inquiry, paired with my espousal of critical examination of and active participation in government, make me a threat to the way of life represented by ACTA. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
MICHAEL J. MONAHAN
Department of Philosophy
University of Nevada Las Vegas
Prior to 9/11, I was certain only a short time would pass before the Bush Administration did what its supporters had hoped to do to the Clinton Administration: shame itself into one impotent term of office or, better still, quickly find its leader impeached and ousted from office. Sadly, the fraud that is now paraded before us as President has found another motherlode of golden luck such that the remaining 10-15 percent who refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of his leadership are now labeled “traitor.” I have felt lonely in my uncompromising love of our country’s principles before, and I am certain I will feel this isolation again. To the remaining 85 percent of my countrymen whose patriotism I refuse to question but who offend me by questioning mine, I say: Keep offending me, keep pushing me back, keep cornering me; you’ll only keep strengthening my conviction.
Like those who have confessed before me, I too would be honored to be included among those who wish to honor the American tradition of speaking out. That America has a long and sad tradition of attempting to restrict freedom of speech and freedom of thought is no secret–here is a favorite verse of mine, written about fifty years ago.
SUSAN E. ABRAMS
Executive Editor, The University of Chicago Press
Song of a Modern Vigilante
(written, anonymously, during the McCarthy era)
I sometimes fancy as I spy
That I excel the FBI.
Right now I’m making little lists
Of folks I think are communists.
I have no proof on anyone,
And yet, the lists are loads of fun!
All friends of foreign aid, I think,
Must be set down as rather pink.
A little pinker, not far off,
I list perforce the college prof,
And pinker yet, the college crowd
That lauds the Bill of Rights–out loud.
UN supporters, as I’ve said,
Are also ipso facto red,
And redder still on my red lists
Are all the integrationists.
Just for good measure in my labors
I add a few of my god neighbors.
Thus I rejoice that loyalty
Resides alone in you and me,
Although, before my work is through,
You may, good friend, be listed, too.
I’m a psychology major at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. Most of the time I’ve spent speaking out against the war has been with friends. So it is unlikely that I would get caught. So here I am, turning myself in. Thank you for your time.
Very soon after the horrible tragedy of September 11, I attended a grassroots festival, the Common Ground Fair, in Unity, Maine, where the vast majority of people in attendance were against any rash military action–my first sin. At the fair, I picked up a flyer depicting two possible responses to the tragedy: killing more people in the name of those already killed, or working towards peace and greater compassion. The flyer seemed to indicate that the latter option was more reasonable. I confess that I agreed with the sentiments of said flyer, and posted it on the door to my office at Bentley College, where I teach literature, composition and creative writing to business students (I am not tenure-track, and therefore my job security is a bit tenuous–and yet I take these risks!). Not only that, but I am often engaged in the treasonous work of encouraging critical thinking, dissent and original ideas from my students. And thus, I proudly hang myself.
Jeanne Gardner and I co-edit Swarthmore College’s humor magazine, Spike, which is published once a semester. This past fall, we decided to take the magazine in a new direction by including an article on a topic more serious than had ever appeared in its pages before–that topic being, of course, the WTC bombing and consequent “war” on terrorism. It was published with a series of sidebars and images of national newsmagazine covers that featured George Bush and the American flag, Osama bin Laden’s face, and so forth. We would absolutely love to be added to the ACTA list. We think that our remarks have been sufficiently subversive–that is, sensible–to justify our names being named.
CHRISTINE SMALLWOOD and JEANNE GARDNER
I’m writing to turn myself in as someone who has failed to fall in line with the super-patriotic “bewildered herd” as Walter Lippmann once called the American mass public. In fact, as a political scientist who spoke at a student-organized teach-in at Lehigh University, and another at Moravian College, I have spoken out for thoughtful reflection in the wake of the heinous attack of September 11, urging students to scrutinize the media carefully (and seek independent media sources), to hear the divergent viewpoints of others, and to speak up in ways that they, too, may be heard. In typical fashion, the local media coverage characterized one of these exchanges as a “protest,” and the other as “blaming America” for September 11. The question is, I guess, would ACTA and these media suggest that “education” means reinforcing acquiescent, reflex action on the part of today’s young? Apparently so.
Professor of Political Science, Lehigh University
I confess to having written “Axis of Evil? or Excess of Awful” on the chalkboard.
I confess to having complained aloud in front of students that the Bushista Regime was and is an illegitimate usurpation of the vote and the power of the people.
I confess that I have told students that I heard a report that the CIA-Saint-Martyr (Spann) had just cold-bloodedly murdered three unarmed prisoners when the others in the bunch rose up and killed him.
I confess that I have told students and colleagues that I shall not fly the flag, nor repeat the Pledge of Allegiance again as long as the Pretender is in residence.
I pledge that I shall continue to denounce, repudiate, excoriate, ridicule, and otherwise demean the image of Resident George W. Bush as long as breath endures.
In Eternal Hostility To Cheney, Lieberman, Bennett and the whole neoliberal establishment, I am yours in Disobedience, Impudence and Inservility
JOHN P. KONOPAK, PhD.
Santa Fe, NM
I too must turn myself in, so please add me to the ACTA list of college and university faculty who “have been the weak link in America’s response to the attack.” Among my several crimes of publicly questioning the type of war we have been waging has been to question in class the suggestions coming from a number of highly placed politicians that terrorists and the organizations that support them simply don’t understand us, and that we should be making ourselves more clear. I have gone so far as to suggest that perhaps they do understand us, at least in part, and that we might benefit from some introspection in regards to our foreign policies and how we present ourselves abroad. If any good is to come from the tragic events of September, one of the best may come here. Furthermore, I have suggested that to consider tax reductions during times of rapidly expanding defense budgets (which together are leading us from budet surpluses to deficits) is worse than fiscal irresponsibility and tantamount to attempting to buy votes. I must be an habitual criminal, because I don’t even recognize the nature of my crimes, unrepentantly tending to consider open dissent one of the fundamental principles of a democracy, and pivotal to keeping democratic nations from drifting to extremism.
DR. JOHN D. WINTER
Department of Geology, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA
I must tattle on myself:
On the evening of September 11 I pointed out to my son that many more innocent children died of preventable childhood diseases and outright starvation that day than from the plane crashes and subsequent destruction. I further pointed out that many more had died of the same causes on September 10 and that many more would die on September 12th.
And just last week I told a group of homeless vets at the soup kitchen where I work that, although none of the hijackers of September 11 were Afghan, US military forces had now killed more innocent Afghan civilians than Americans killed by the events of September 11. And that, though the terrorist attacks were apparently planned in Hamburg, Germany, and all but one of the hijackers were Egyptian or Saudi Arabian, no bombs rained down on Germany, Egypt or Saudi Arabia.
Obviously, I should be included on the TAOS list.
STEPHEN R. JOHNSTON, B.A. (in History)
In a faculty senate meeting at my institution on January 9, 2002, to discuss the case of Dr. Sami al-Arian, I explained to those assembled that some of the most infamous violations of academic freedom came during wars when we labeled targets un-American or extremist, as when University of Minnesota regent Pierce Butler called professor William Schaper “the Kaiser’s man” in an extemporaneous hearing in September 1917. I was clearly implying that we should be extremely cautious in tarring people with the label of unpatriotic, un-American or anti-American, and thus belong on the list.
Assistant Professor, University of South Florida
*** Since 9/11 I have said a number of things to my students that offer proof that I am, indeed, one of the weakest “of the weak link[s] in America’s response to the attack.” Why, only last week, in front of a US history class of 300 students, I referred to AG John Ashcroft as “that doofus.” And today, I suggested to my students and to a young reporter from the UCLA newspaper, The Daily Bruin, that the President’s State of the Union address was scary because it used the international terrorist paradigm in a fashion that was mindless and sweeping and reminiscent of black hole anti-Communism. I have also pointed out the irony of an avowed racist (Ashcroft) making decisions concerning racial profiling. I have made any number of tasteless pretzel and Enron jokes. I, like Professor Sherwin, have compared the frantic arrest of Muslims with Executive Order 9066. Also like Professor Sherwin, I was too young to make it onto any of Low-Blow Joe McCarthy’s lists (although when I was 8 years old I did write a letter to him on behalf of my parents, who were both blacklisted). I missed Nixon’s “Enemies List” because at that time I was milking goats on a commune in Southern Colorado and was clearly beneath his radar. I would very much like to be considered for inclusion in any ACTA report listing academics who are or who have been critical of the Administrations’ war on terrorism. My thanks in advance.
PROFESSOR MARY F. COREY
Department of History, UCLA
*** In a letter to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch pubished November 7, 2001, I criticized the Administration’s blind faith in weapons technology and covert operations to correct problems resulting from past technology deployments and past covert operations. I also deplored the “attribution by some Americans of a papal infallibility to the President in matters of military and foreign policy.” Lest the ACTA think I am being partisan, I issued similar public criticism of Bill Clinton’s “Desert Fox” operation during December 1998, saying that “Americans should reflect carefully on appeals by politicians to cease asking questions and support our troops.”
Just to be sure that ACTA identifies me correctly, I was employed from 1966 to 1981 as a weapons test engineer for McDonnell-Douglas and held a secret security clearance. My years as a probationary faculty member at St. Louis Community ran concurrently with the two years of court-imposed supervised probation that resulted from my arrest in 1983 at a demonstarion at General Dynamics Corporation. More recently, I’ve published papers exposing the hypocrisy of corporate ethics codes, and criticizing the community college movement for its part in corporate globalization.
CHARLES J. GUENTHER JR.
Professor, Engineering XXXSLTSUXXXamp; Technology
St. Louis Community College at Meramec
I am an art student at Indiana-Purdue, Indianapolis. I must confess that from December through January I displayed a piece of art in the IUPUI Cultural Arts gallery that called into question the immediate militaristic response and surge of seemingly unquestioning displays of nationalism that I observed from my place here in Indy. The piece consisted of hundreds of white clay figures looking very pathetic on two pedestals. On one pedestal was a quote from Hannah Arendt regarding the inability of dissenters to muster a meaningful challenge to Hitler in the Nazi era from Eichmann in Jerusalem. On the next pedestal were writings from my own journal detailing my feelings of anxiety about not doing more to voice my opposition to the events around me and a general feeling of helplessness. Behind the figures I played a video on the TV which interspersed footage of nationalistic billboards, yardsigns, bumperstickers and store displays with footage of the deployment of troops to the middle east and gulf war burning oil fields. The soundtrack was “Sanctus” from Mozart’s Requiem. Apparently, this did not go over very well, because every time I went to check up on the piece the TV was turned off. If you want pictures I can send them.
Herron School of Art
Indiana University, Indianapolis
I am proud to be an American. My government’s imperialistic and militaristic arrogance has nothing to do with this pride.
I teach English and Spanish, and I regularly assign my students readings from The Nation, Z Magazine and The Progressive. Then I ask them to write essays in response to these readings. This semester, I am going to have them write a paper related to “The War on Terror.” Along with other materials (differing perspectives will be represented), I plan to assign “The Others,” by Howard Zinn. This is an article that calls into question some commonly accepted “truths” our government and corporatized media have lately been hammering into the heads of American citizens. I intend to tell my students, as I pass this article out, that they are about to read something by one of America’s great citizens, one whose hard head shatters hammers of propaganda like glass.
DR. KENT JOHNSON
Highland Community College, Lansing, MI
Although I am an American, I have been teaching in Montreal since before September 11, 2001, so my comments on thecurrent war against terrorism have not been directly addressed tostudents in the United States. However, during a set of public addresses at universities and other locations in the United States during mid-November, Iexpressed concern over the parallels between the government’s treatment ofAmerican residents summarily arrested and heldon suspicion of links toterrorism and the mass roundup of Japanese aliens following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. I have also mentioned to my students inMontreal the widespread concerns by civil liberties groups about the implications of the antiterrorism acts passed in the United States and Canada (Canada’s law, Bill C-36,eases restrictions on wiretappingand on the introduction of various kinds of secret evidence in courts).
Assistant Professor of History
University of Quebec, Montreal
Thank you for offering me a confessional for the many unpatriotic comments I have made on and since September 11. On the very day of the attacks on the World Trade Center, I remarked to my entourage (months before Bill Maher, I might add) that it didn’t seem particularly cowardly to me to fly a plane into a building, assuming you were awake when you did it. My fellow countrypersons at ACTA, this was no doubt a subversive statement, made in the hearing of a high school senior, my daughter.
More recently, I have wondered out loud what John Ashcroft meant when he said John Walker Lindh was being prosecuted for having rejected “our values.” Would that be Enron values? How is it that I fail to understand why rejecting values is a crime? The fault certainly lies in me, and ACTA should take note.
This very week, I found myself saying that if the Salt Lake Olympic organizers had to mobilize thousands of heavily armed troops and police to “defend” the event, quite possibly it wasn’t worth holding. I also found myself hoping George W. would take a pratfall on the ice as he graced the opening ceremony with his presence. (I guess his fall from the couch had made me think about fallen Presidents.) This was definitely a disrespectful thought about the leader of the Free World.
The Other Side magazine, Philadelphia
In a discussion of revenge tragedies during one of my Shakespeare classes in November, I cited Cyril Tourneur’s The Revenger’s Tragedy as an embodiment of the fundamental lesson of such plays: that when an individual appoints himself avenger of a particular evil and permits himself to kill in order to eradicate that evil, the inevitable next step is that he sees
more evil and decides he is bound also to eradicate that. This process, from initial conception through to the bloody pile of corpses that ends the play, involves a human being usurping the role and power of God (“vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord,” KJV) and thus embroils the revenger in the very evil he sets out to conquer. Students dutifully wrote this (or something) down in their notebooks. “This lesson was clear to the playwrights and audiences in the Shakespearean era,” I continued, “and should remain equally clear today: The individual who sets out to eradicate evil is guilty initially of hubris and then of blasphemy, not to mention murder.” The students’ dropped eyes and uneasy shifting in their seats suggested to me that I had in fact become a candidate for the latest enemies list.
RUTH ANNE BAUMGARTNER
Fairfield University and Central Connecticut State University
Dear Dr. Cheney and the ACTA,
After reading your report “Defending Civilization: How Our Universities are Failing America and What Can Be Done About It,” I was compelled to write an article for Common Sense, the independent liberal newspaper serving the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College. In my article, I criticized the McCarthyistic attacks on civil liberties and free speech committed by Attorney General John Ashcroft and the ACTA. In addition to this, I have participated in many antiwar demonstrations and have criticized the actions of the Bush Administration on many occasions (too numerous to add here). I also believe in free speech. For these reasons, I am submitting my name for the consideration of the ACTA. I would be deeply honored to be included on a future list.
Student, Saint Mary’s College
When I saw your notice, and the correspondence it engendered, I rejoiced. With a President who was elected by the most perversely unjust Supreme Court that the country has known, with an Attorney General who is one of the most dangerous political figures extant, with a Vice President who is up to his ears in political corruption, it is absolutely essential right now for every red-blooded American to join your list and insist unequivocally on the right to protest whenever the misdeeds of this appalling Aministration warrant it. It is not merely a matter of asserting the idea of different thinking about major matters such as the bombing of Afganistan in order to destroy “evil” (whatever that might mean) but of protecting the very right to protest, which is one of our Constitution’s most precious, and seemingly frail, legacies.
George W. Bush, aside from his illegal occupancy of the White House, is also a very foolish man whose policies are pushing us each day toward the unimaginable horror of gobal nuclear conflict. He seems to relish the idea of Imperial American Power. That is a form of madness, one which we should have learned about from the examples of Napoleon and Hitler. What Bush needs most of all is a healthy dose of genuinely imaginative and comapassionate thinking about the millions of people around the globe who have been victimized by our, and his, arrogant and bullying xenophobia. No one that I have met would deny the horrors of September 11. What we need to add is that the waste of human lives that our policies in Iraq, Chile, Laos, Cambodia, Central America, East Timor–to name just a few–far outweigh the human losses in New York, as horrific as they were. It is only by recognizing and overcoming our blindess and arrogance that any hope of a peaceful world for our children can be attained. To do that, we educators have to educate, and that means going well beyond the vacuous and misleading drivel that passes for news in the common media. In that sense it means that, probably for some time, we have to be subversive. That is our responsibility. So I am very glad to join with my colleagues from all over the country, and the world, in signing on to your growing list of those who will not be silenced by Ashcroft, Rumsfeld and Bush. There are strong signs that the lists are growing. That’s very heartening. We should keep at it.
Emeritus Professor of English, Carleton College
Being a mere undergrad ata conservative universityinthe UScolonial possession Alaska, I fearmy indiscretions will seem insignificant to the distinquished Dr. Cheney and her elite fellow patriots. Still I feel a compulsion to confess my shameless activities since September 11. I, along with two sociology professors (who shall not be named), organized a teach-in on Islam, terrorism and nonviolent philosophy.
I contributed to the creation and dissemination of a petition objecting to a letter sent out over university e-mail by the university’s president. He used the events of9/11 to justify not only the necessity of a brutal response but the building of amissile defense system (an issue that deeply concerns Alaskans, as launchingthe next arms race in space would bring more defense spending here). Furthermore, in a fit offemale emotionalityand lack of “expert” objectivity, I impudently suggested to a meeting of faculty and administration that the carpet bombing of Afghanistan, with its inevitable civilian casualties, would bean act of state terrorism that would only result in furthering the cycle of terrorist violence. In a similar state of misquided sentimentality, I wrote a letter to the local daily news claiming thatthisadministration’ssupport of Sharon’s policies in Palestinian territories is American foreign policy at its worst.
And one more thing. I have knowingly goneoutside patriotically circumscribed American media to find analysis and information, sometimescritical of our government’s policies–even e-mailing this information to others whose views I did thus corrupt.Nor have I repented, as I amcurrently involved with a group exploring nonviolent living and action in an increasingly violent and insane global system. Mythoughts and deedsby definition make me nofriend to the current administration–though I truly believe my actions were and remainin the service of social justice, truth and democracy. If these values are offensive to Dr. Cheney, I humbly request that she add me to her list. Confession isgood for the soul.
I teach at a small church-related liberal arts college. We have a significant population of international students. I had the audacity to question whether it was always appropriate to display the flag on campus because I knew some of our students were puzzled and intimidated by what they saw as an aggressive patriotism. I interpreted our community as an international one. My offense was highly symbolic.
TIMOTHY A. BENNETT
Foreign Languages and Literatures, Wittenberg University
Although (like many of your confessors) I am not an academic, I think the ACTA might be interested in my experience. I’m a delivery driver for an auto parts distributor. Shortly after the September 11 attacks, my supervisor began distributing American flags to wave from our delivery trucks. When she handed me a flag, I politely declined. She was aghast. “Why?,” she asked. “No reason necessary,” I replied. “But we want the drivers to fly the flag,” she said. Again I said no. She turned away, incredulous. The next day, the notorious Bush poster was tacked below my sign-out board: “You’re either with us or with the terrorists.” I guess the ACTA would find me in the camp of the latter. I hereby confess that I am not in the camp of the former.
As a pre-emptive measure I must ask that you add my name to your list of anti-American peacenik educators. I am currently taking a French course at Brown University (hint: a potential mother lode of “weak links”) as a step toward my eventual certification to teach at the high-school level. Once certified, I plan to teach my students a language spoken by foreigners who snidely disdain our country and to incorporate the overseas press and critical thinking in my lesson plans.
Recently I have written to Mr. Bush protesting our attacks on Afghan civilians and have encouraged my friends to do the same. (Yes, I do realize that an attempt to persuade our soi-disant President against the destruction of innocent lives prods the boundaries of misplaced optimism.) With my fuel-efficient Japanese car I have run over the small American flags littering Interstate 95. I must also confess to participating in a peace rally and continuing to support such backseat un-American causes as reproductive freedom and the separation of church and state. Whew, now my soul feels clean.
I’ll be pursuing certification in a different state, so catch me if you can!
Providence, Rhode Island
Not realizing the gravity of my remarks to the 100 or so students in my American Government and Society class, I neglected to accurately record either the time and date of those, now unfortunate, observations nor their exact wording. However with my new understanding of my responsibilities as a loyal, patriotic American I have assigned a student the task of recording my every word in order that I (or you) may report them with accuracy and alacrity to Dr. Cheney, Senator Lieberman and those other loyal, patriotic guardians of American virtue and academic freedom at the American Council of Trustees and Alumni(ACTA).
As near as I can recall, sometime after the terrible events of September 11, 2001 I made the following, often intemperate, remarks
1. Ari Fleischer’s remark that “people were going to have to watch what the say” reminded me of McCarthyism, Nazism and totalitarianism (perhaps not in that order)and that it was exceeded only by later censoring the remark from the transcript as an exercise in Orwellian historical revision. Goebbels would have approved.
2. The corporate media, most noticeably CNN and other TV networks, were waving the flag and acting as propagandists and cheer leaders for the government, rather than fulfilling their putative function as purveyors of accurate information and incisive criticism for citizens to use in making political judgments. In this connection, I am also guilty of indicating that students could partially correct for this by 1. ignoring TV news generally; 2. reading skeptically the elite media, especially the New York Times and Washington Post, which were flacking for the White House; 3. reading the “alternative press,” especially The Nation, The Progressive, Mother Jones, In These Times and the LA Weekly, as well as the foreign press, which has a decidedly different “take” on events; 4. listening to KPFK and other Pacifica network radio stations. I also indicated that, much to my surprise, the Los Angeles Times, alone of the top newspapers in the country, was regularly carrying op-ed pieces and columns opposing the “war on terrorism” including pieces by Howard Zinn, Barabara Kingsolver, Arundhati Roy and others.
3. I criticize myself especially (mea maxima culpa) and beg forgiveness for stating that I believed and do believe that John Ashcroft and George Bush pose a great threat to civil liberties because they seem to have no understanding and respect for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and that imprisoning 900 or a thousand “suspects” and holding them incommunicado in unnamed locations, while eavesdropping on their conversations with their lawyers (when permitted) threatens the rights of all of us, not just noncitizens. I also said military tribunals were contemptible and that if the government couldn’t make its case in the federal court system, perhaps its case was not so strong. I also opined that the Republican Party was best understood not as a conservative party but as a radical right-wing party that would be only a quasi-lunatic fringe party in European politics, e.g., Le Pen’s party in France and Haider’s party in Austria. (I did say my remarks were sometimes intemperate.)
4. I also beg forgiveness for believing that the war on terrorism is killing innocent people and the government seems to be adopting the policy of “kill them all and let God sort them out.” While this last remark is a bit broad, it is an accurate record of my beliefs and should be reported to the proper authorities. I also said that we needed to guard against racism and not hate people who are Arabs, who look like we think Arabs look like, etc., and that the same holds true for Moslems, generally. I also said that the government would use this situation to broaden its attack on Iraq and as a pretext for stationing more troops in the Middle East and (before his announcement) that the President would probably ask for billions more for “defense.”
5. Finally, I also stated that in times of national stress governments often do bad things and, our government being no exception, that we should try and stop them from doing these bad things in our name, rather than lament them in later years, but that often such belated lamentation may be centuries in coming, e.g., recognizing that killing Native Americans was not such a good thing after all and that Columbus murdered many, many people. Accordingly, it will probably not be until the year 2500 that we will recognize as as a nation the millions of Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian civilians American bombs killed during the period now know as the Vietnam War. So, by comparison, a few thousand dead Afghan civilians is probably not too big a deal for American sensibilities.
As can be seen from the above, admittedly incomplete, recounting, I believe I have a good case to be included in the list compiled by ACTA and would certainly accept whatever judgment you choose to make in this matter. Thanking you in advance for your careful consideration I remain a loyal Nation subscriber, member of the appropriate suspect organizations, ACLU, California Faculty Association, AFL-CIO. Perhaps, I should that tomorrow at 11 AM and again at 6:30 PM I am scheduled to participate in a roundtable discussion with four other professors, titled “The Politics and Implications of the 9/11 Terrorism Incidents.” (My part is called “Critical Thinking in a Time of Strife.” While I do not feel free to name the other participants, I should point out that the event is sponsored by the Department of Political Science, so perhaps that should incriminate the entire department, and since it is being held on our campus, in my class in fact, perhaps the entire university (students as well as faculty, but not, obviously administrators and trustees) should be included in the list. However, I defer to your judgment in this regard.
HASKEL SIMONOWITZ, Ph.D.
Department of Political Science, UCLA
I write you to self-rat. I teach anthopology at a community college in California. After 9/11, I organized a series of forums and workshops (teach-ins) on the whole mess and, while deliberately encouraging open, free speech, I invited like minds to speak and host. Like minds that proclaimed, among other things, that Bush’s war was a sham–a device to build popularity and to secure pipeline routes, that Ashcroft was (is) a menace to free speech and other constitutionally guaranteed liberties, and that, in general, the Bush Administration is nothing more than a fraudulent front organization for the American Empire and the oil/gas industry. Come and get me!
Cabrillo College, Aptos, CA
I am a Lutheran Pastor who follows the readings appointed in the ledtionary common to many churches. On more than one occasion recently when the appointed readings for the day have mentioned “justice,” I have said that “justice is not a dead terrorist.”
In response to President Bush’s State of the Union Address and the verse in one of the readings this week, “to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God,” I will say again, “God’s justice is not a dead terrorist.”
PASTOR ROBERT WHITE
Christ the Redeemer Lutheran Church (ELCA)
Please submit my name as a nominee for the ACTA blacklist. Do they have an auxiliary group for high school educators? Although I have often expressed reservations concerning our alleged “war on terrorism,” my real “crime” is encouraging my students to think. Thinking–now that is truly a subversive activity. I guess that while you are at it, you had better include my students on that list of nominees. They are guilty of questioning a wide variety of statements and opinions, including mine. How dare they question me or any other person in authority! If they are allowed to continue this type of behavior, they might actually become active participants in the democratic process. How ironic that so many conservatives and libertarians, who have continually expressed their distrust of government, are now demanding that all US citizens, in fact all people of the world, march in lock step behind our government and its leaders.
Marion High School, Marion, Michigan
I’m not from academia but I’ve never missed an opportunity to educate many in my wide circle of friends, acquaintances and coworkers about the evils of the Bush Administration.
And I did it before it was ‘officially’ open season on liberals, attending and even organizing a number of pro-democracy election protests dating back as far as November 11, 2000. As the group photographer, I have hundreds of pictures to prove it. Letters to the editor, discreet gatherings with other dissidents, the whole nine yards.
I’ve said since the beginning that as they seized power so shall they rule. We’re seeing that come to pass as the Bush crowd does as they please regardless of the laws. Evidently they are the law.
Though I plead guilty to dissent, I have no remorse. It’s my job as a citizen not to stop talking about it.
(Boy, that truth serum really has me singin’ like a songbird.)
Photographer, Blaine, Minnesota
I taught an Intro to Lit course at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the fall 2001 semester. One of the items on our syllabus was Melville’s “Benito Cereno,” the story of an American ship’s captain stumbling across a slave insurrection; I encouraged my students to draw parallels between Captain Delano’s benign perception of himself as an American and our own, and our blissfully willful ignorance of any reasons that murderous rage might be leveled at us. I actually lectured on September 11, about an hour after both WTC buildings had collapsed–classes had not yet been officially canceled. I talked about my own studies on the subject of terrorism and revolt, my work with John Brown as a dissertation subject, and about the fact that George Washington could be described as “the Father of American Terrorism” (a title occasionally conferred on Brown) for his post-Christmas raid on a camp of unarmed, hired-out cannon fodder. I also encouraged my students to look beyond the alternately sentimental and pornographic coverage of the disaster to think about not only what the attack might mean, but how the American media would create a meaning sanctioned by the government.
The FBI, and the Bush Administration, should be happy to learn, however, that so successful is the American education industry in discouraging creative and critical thought that by the time a student reaches college age, they are often very poorly equipped for the kind of skeptical inquiry such questions demand.
Instructor, Doctoral candidate, University of Illinois at Chicago
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni’s effort to intimidate professors as “weak links” in the war on terrorism is an utter disgrace. We need more, not less, questioning of the government’s policies–especially in the nation’s classrooms–and ACTA’s effort to curb this smacks of a form of tyranny.
Frankly, Ms. Cheney’s role in this is to be expected, given her right-wing political views. But Senator Lieberman, a professed thoughtful Senator, owes us an apology for being part of a runaway, self-appointed group of anti-intellectuals and political “Talibans.”
I am only sorry that I did not know in advance of Professor Sherwin’s letter so that I might have affixed my signature to it. Meanwhile, I stand with him, and invite Ms. Cheney or Senator Lieberman to come to my classes at any time to listen to my questions about past and present nature of US foreign policy.
Arnold A. Offner
Cornelia F. Hugel Professor of History, Lafayette College
I confess that I was not aware of how critical my personal actions were to the upholding of the Party Line on the War on Terrorism. Being ignorant of my role as an essential link, I allowed myself to be quoted in the local newspaper as a member of the Copper Country Peace Alliance. I have also told my students that fundamentalism is dangerous in all its guises, whatever religion it claims to be wearing.
Now that I realize how important my link is, I will be much more careful about my activities. In fact, I will start by unlinking completely from the chain of Official Doctrines. To remind myself and others how dangerous those chains can be I have posted the following quote from Mark Twain on my office door.
“Each of you, for himself, by himself and on his own responsibility, must speak. And it is a solemn and weighty responsibility, and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government, or the empty catch-phrases of politicians. Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may. If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country–hold up your head. You have nothing to be ashamed of.”
–Mark Twain, “Papers of the Adam Family”
SARAH A. GREEN
Professor of Chemistry
Michigan Technological University
Well, I’d better turn myself in before I do any real damage. I recently graduated from Penn State (where I must have been infected by one of those evil academics on the ACTA list) and in August I will begin teaching high school biology in North Carolina. I just might take my questions about the “war on terrorism” into my classroom and further spread this infection of dissent!
To the ACTA I appologize for my democratic tendencies, and my desire to instill the democratic virtue of a critical attitude in my students. Please add my name to the list in anticipation of my future “crimes.” It would be an honor.
Soon-to-be High School Biology Teacher
On September 20, I asked my freshman Intro to Communication class to consider if military retaliation against the innocent people of Afghanistan was really a proper response to the horrible terrorist attack. I asked these young people to consider the following slightly trivial but still relevant example: If an aggressive man assaults me on the street am I justified to turn around and attack his 4-year-old daughter?
When one of my students used the phrase “collateral damage” in response to this question I asked the class to consider whether that phrase can ever be used when it is your own children and loved ones that are being discussed.
Please report me to Dr. Cheney and Senator Lieberman immediately!
Professor of Communication, University of Hartford
I teach a sociology class at Santa Monica College. On December 5, 2001, I shared with my students the American Council of Trustees and Alumni’s report entitled Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing America and What Can Be Done About It. In particular, I reviewed some of the examples in the report that purportedly undermine civilization. During this discussion, I shared with students the following exchange between a reporter and Mohandas K. Gandhi:
Reporter: Mr. Gandhi, what do you think of Western Civilization?
Mr. Gandhi: I think it would be a good idea.
I also shared with my student’s my opinion that the report’s rabidly right-leaning bent and fictional idealization of American values is further evidence that we have yet to achieve any semblance of Gandhi’s notion of “civilization.”
ROBERT M. MYERS
Vice-President, LA Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild
Please add me to the list of US academics who are critical of the US response to 9/11. I’ve been sending letters and e-mails to the White House and Congress for the last three months calling on them to stop their war in Afghanistan. The last one argued that President Dimwit is putting the lives of dissenters in danger along with the lives of supporters by telling the world that we’re all united behind his war effort. Not to mention the fact that he’s flagrantly disregarding the will of the people that it’s his job to represent to the world.
PhD Candidate in Composition and Cultural Rhetoric
I would first like to tattle on my father, who recently said to me that he felt Joe Lieberman has become a huge disappointment. Perhaps Mr. Lieberman considers my father’s distaste for him un-American?
And of course there is me as well. From the outset of this so-called “war” in Afghanistan I have questioned whether America could ever end terrorism through the terror that always accompanies the use of military force. I have also greatly criticized Attorney General Ashcroft for his piss-poor defense of the “USA Patriot Act” (what a name, huh?). When he said that the only proper forum for debate on this bill is in a Senate committee and that if any citizens have the audacity to exercise their right–or shall I say civic duty–to question what our government is doing in this time of crisis that they are aiding the terrorists themselves, I was floored. In exercising my own free speech–and even worse, my own free thought–I must be un-American as well! So my name might as well go on that little list as well.
MICHAEL J. SMITH
Well, where does one start? Years of speaking out against racism, militarism, war and economic injustice. Since 1985, when I’d had more than enough of Reagan, becoming a War Tax Resister. Enduring the emptying of bank accounts, loss of wages and threats from the IRS to take whatever wasn’t nailed down. Once they discovered there wasn’t much worth hauling away, they continued the mail notices but have (so far) gone after more appealing fish. Warning people away from the Bush crowd and having a heavy heart during the election debacle. Knowing that something big would come of the piles of wrongdoing, perpetrated far more by the privileged elite than the growing numbers of poor being marched off to the growing number of prisons.
Indeed, I spoke against the bombing. As I am at age 61 and struggling with health challenges now, my family and friends don’t start as many arguments when my flaming rebellion against the tide of injustice comes forth. Surely, we must do something to stop the fallout of such intense hatred against anyone, including ourselves. Bombing, though? I don’t think it will produce anywhere near the desired or expected effects.
Today, we see on the news a report about families who lost loved ones in New York, hightailing it off to Afghanistan to speak with people there about loss, endurance and healing. How much more powerful that is than craters in the Earth or the incessant ranting and raving in the madrassahs. Violence begets violence. We have overwhelming evidence of that reality; century after century tells us so.
Yes, I speak out against the war and against Bush and his entourage. I speak out against the “free trade” that minimizes opportunity for workers everywhere and promises to continue punishing the environment as well. I speak out against housing an astonishing proportion of our young black men behind bars while we assure the sons and daughters of the elite can attend Stanford and the like.
In tandem, I speak out against the extremists who blame “the West” for all their troubles, when their own centuries-old history is rife with injustice and murderous acts against ordinary folks–especially ordinary women. In convenience stores in Chicago, I have witnessed proprietors of Middle Eastern origin telling African-American customers to “drop the money on the counter” so that they don’t have to touch a black hand. I have seen the hatred in their eyes when I, a pale white woman, toss my money on the counter in protest against their treatment of the previous customer. Profiling? Please. It happens all too frequently in places where there is no news coverage. All of it, from all sides, must end if we are to continue as a specie on this lovely little Blue Planet.
Thanks for the opportunity to tell on myself. Reminiscent of the days, in high school, when I had to fess up to some sort of clowning around. This time, the clown is very serious. There can be no backing down from the commitment to justice, and believing that peace is the way…not the result.
Here’s a modest question I plan to ask in my Issues in Modern America class tomorrow:
If we (the United States) attempt to fight terrorism and discontent around the world by encouraging other countries to “clamp down” on their dissenters, if we tolerate human rights abuses in the name of our security, do we help to perpetuate and make worse the conditions that breed terrorism?
English/Language, Bluffton College, Bluffton, OH
It bothers me that so many people think that if you wave a flag, slap bumper stickers of supposedly patriotic sayings and still more flags all overyour cars, and never want to question anything your government is doing (or let anyone else do it), this is patriotism.
I wonder too why and how, if the Soviets had never managed to take over Afghanistan in a long, bloody war, how our military managed to march in, bring down the Taliban, and get hold of so many Al Queda members in a matter of months. Remember when we were told this would take years?
I remember the seeminglove affair the media and the general public had with the Gulf War while I was a high school student. Then, when people found out that our bombs weren’t that smart, that we left a maniac in power while thousands of Kurds were forced to live on the Turkish-Iraqi border, and the sanctions we imposedare hurting the general public far more than those in power, people started to realize that it was a dangerous infatuation. The question is, When will the people of America allow themselves to see this supposed “war on terrorism” for what it really is?
Midwest City, Oklahoma
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.
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 do not belong to any academic institution, however I would feel honored to be listed with such courageous, intelligent people (who actually possess common sense)on the ACTA list
I decided to write a book putting my common sense view of corporate America on the line. The following is an excerpt that hopefully will put me on this list:
One last thought on various industries: All “news facilities” are corporate owned…need I say more? Oh well, I will… The mass media defends capitalism! That is because Mr. Catfish will not allow anything on the air or in the print that might be controversial, and therefore, offend any of the people who pay for the privilege of reading or seeing their publications. Not reading or watching them leads to low profits and no advertisers! You will not get a true accounting of most events occurring throughout the world because everything involves capitalism. This is especially true if it involves our government. No news corporation wants to offend patriotic people. So, educated yourself and do not be blind to our nation’s faults just because you are a patriot…that is how we end up at war.
I thank The Nation for following a different path.
Kindly add my name and the enclosed remarks to the fray. It seems to me that Mr. Ashcroft and others of the current administration are entirely too ready to trample on the freedoms enjoyed by our citizens, and thoughtful Americans should be outraged at what is happening in Washington.
I can be outspoken and in fact have a duty to be outraged at the actions of the Administration. These freedoms were bought and paid for by the blood of ordinary Americans who have served the nation in wartime.
I happen to fit in that group. I was a volunteer for the US Army Air Corps at age 18. I volunteered again when I answered the nation’s call in 1948. I was an active paticipant in the Korean War, and was in the Vietnam War.
I’m almost 76 years of age now, but if needed will respond instantly.
GEORGE B JAMES JR.
Major, AUS, Retired
I am not an academic, yet I feel that I should include myself alongside those who have been included on your ACTA subversives list. My name is Frederick Gary Dyson and I work in the Health Industry as an administrator for several physicians. I chose to come to the USA in 1982 because of my desire to be able to speak and act in a free society that values liberty. I am a naturalized citizen (1987).
Over the last two years, and particularly since the announcement of the AG’s plans and actions regarding the “war on terrorism”, I have spoken out against the particular movement against individual liberties that has become more apparent since September 11.
In groups, over the Internet, in church classes, at work and with individuals I have expressed my love for America and the liberties granted to us, not by legislative fiat, but by the inspired Constitution. I have expressed my concern that there appears to be a movement towards reducing generally our protections under the First Amendment. I have also mentioned more particularly my perception that each individual who might agree with the need to stand and fight against terrorist acts but may disagree with the course undertaken by the Administration is in danger of being “dissappeared” as in the South/Central American “war against communist terrorists.”
I am sure I can find some of my statements saved in the archives of discussion groups on the Internet, if you need them. I could also ask for affidavits from individuals and groups to whom I have spoken. Please let me know if you need more evidence against me.
Salt Lake City, Utah
I’m not a professional academician, and I’m a generally quiet person, but my friends and coworkers know me as a principled opponent of US military intervention in Grenada, Iraq and now Afghanistan.
As a fully participating consumer-worker-investor in the US economy I know that “money talks,” and, following the example of our fine corporate citizens, exercise my right to this constitutionally protected form of speech as often as I can afford.
My numerous transgressions include over a decade of financial support of the American Civil Liberties Union; until we have a national ID card that includes a DNA sample for verifying my identity, my ACLU membership card will have to suffice. I also contribute to my alma mater, a fine liberal arts college that encourages critical thinking–thus I have indirect influence on the formation of young minds
Most recently, and of greatest concern to the ACTA, I donated my $300 tax refund that was he result of a foolhardy domestic policy to Help The Afghan Children Inc. (www.helptheafghanchildren.org), a small, independent humanitarian organization. To add insult to injury, I made this donation on the very same day that President Bush encouraged US children to send money for Afghan relief to a White House address.
Since it is unlikely that ACTA has the budget to monitor the classrooms of private high school teachers, I would like to fulfill my civic duty by reporting myself as one who has engaged in the apparently treasonous act of questioning the necessity and validity of the war in Afghanistan. Not only have I presented the pacifist point of view in a favorable light on a number of occasions, even going so far as to quote that villain among villains Mohandas K. Gandhi, but I have even questioned the motivations of our policy-makers in choosing a military response from among the available options at a time when our economy is suffering. I am a patriot, but I am one who believes that it is our civic duty to push our country in the right direction rather than simply rubber-stamping the bad decisions of our leaders. Hitting our children to teach them that hitting is wrong is a mistake that most parents have abandoned, yet we still need to learn this lesson on the national level. By doing what we are doing, we are reinforcing the idea that it is okay to be violent if you are “right,” which justifies the violence of any group which believes in the rightness of its cause (and what group doesn’t?). Violence begets violence in an endless cycle…only by dealing with terrorism in a civilized fashion will we be able to spread the civilized values we claim to cherish. If this type of speech is treasonous, I am guilty and deserving of punishment. I assure you, though, that these comments come only from a strong belief in the values which are at the foundation of our nation. I am an American, and I love America enough to tell her when she is wrong. It would be an honor to have my name added to your list.
BRAD NICHOLSON, teacher of history
Cheshire Academy, Cheshire, CT
Please add my name to the list of subversives, as my transgressions have been many. I’m afraid that I’m unable to provide dates for these activities, but a full accounting is in order.
I am a high school teacher in a self-contained classroom. After hearing news that the twin towers had been struck by an airplane my students and I watched with rapt interest the events unfolding before us. Even at that early date I counseled my students to be weary of any information that they were getting from the networks. I suggested that Osama bin Laden would almost certainly be named as the key suspect. I’ve spent many days addressing issues concerning military actions in Afghanistan, leading discussions in which I do not censure or stifle even the most “un-American” statements. I offer to my students information regarding the “war on terrorism” that they will not receive from newspapers or network/cable television. I instruct my students to question and remain critical of everything that they hear. I’ve also given a copy of the United States Constitution to each of my students and instructed them to weigh all political decisions against what they read in that document. This has lead to lively debates concerning the internment of hundreds of people without trial, military tribunals and the USA-Patriot Act.
Shortly after the attacks I submitted an article to our local newspaper in which I asked whether the United States would have the courage to do what’s right and pursue a peaceful solution to the terrorist attacks. Of course, it was never printed. A later article was printed in which I defended the freedom of speech exercised by those who are against the war from a writer who stated that such people do not deserve the protection of the First Amendment. From the time of the attack until around December I’ve been involved in an e-mail debate with my brother, a supporter of the War on Terrorism. Many of my insights address the failures and the exploitative nature of American foreign policy in the world. I’ve even gone so far as to share these e-mails with friends and family.
Mostly, however, I do not seem to have learned from my actions. I intend to continue questioning and critiquing the official spin of the War on Terrorism. It is in this vein that I, Michael Andoscia, MA, respectfully request placement on ACTA’s list of subversives. Thank you for your attention in this matter.
MICHAEL ANDOSCIA, teacher
Educational Enrichment Center, Fort Myers, FL
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni McCarthyite attack on professors as the “weak link” in the war on terrorism is an utter disgrace. We need more, not less, questioning of the government’s policies–especially in the nation’s classrooms–and ACTA’s effort to curb this smacks of a form of tyranny.
Frankly, Ms. Cheney’s role in this is to be expected, given her right-wing political views. But Senator Lieberman, a professed thoughtful Senator, owes us an apology for being part of a runaway, self-appointed group of anti-intellectuals and political “Talibans.”
I am only sorry that I did not know in advance of Professor Sherwin’s letter so that I might have affixed my signature to it. Meanwhile, I stand with him, and invite Ms. Cheney or Senator Lieberman to come to my classes at any time to listen to my questions about past and present nature of US foreign policy.
ARNOLD A. OFFNER
Cornelia F. Hugel Professor of History, Lafayette College