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Dissent and criticism are not treason

Please read this post and participate. I'm sick of being called unpatriotic because I don't follow the President blindly.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 22nd, 2004 10:01 am (UTC)
Who's called you unpatriotic?
May. 22nd, 2004 08:01 pm (UTC)
Re: Question.
"I believe that the president's leadership in the actions taken in Iraq demonstrate an incompetence in terms of knowledge, judgment and experience in making the decisions that would have been necessary to truly accomplish the mission without the deaths to our troops and the cost to our taxpayers."
--House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

"Nancy Pelosi should apologize for her irresponsible, dangerous rhetoric. She apparently is so caught up in partisan hatred for President Bush that her words are putting American lives at risk."
--House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

If Pelosi's criticism of Bush is "putting American lives at risk," then I'm guilty of the same thing, since I've criticised him many times, and much more harshly.

So forgive me. I didn't mean "unpatriotic." I meant "American-life-risk-putter-atter."
May. 22nd, 2004 08:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Question.
Well, by all means, feel free to say what you mean, rather than what might just make a good sound bite. You will have to forgive me, but I consider there to be an enormous difference between someone "challenging your patriotism" and saying that your behavior is "putting American lives at risk." I find that more or less as questionable as I find John Kerry's insinuation that detailing his public record is akin to questioning his patriotism. I just think we need to deal with what is.

As for the actual content of Pelosi's statement... I'm not sure what, if anything, there is to say about it. I support her right to say what she feels, even if I don't agree with it. And, similarly, I support Mr. DeLay's right to say what he feels, even if I don't agree with it. I don't believe Ms. Pelosi should be immune from criticism. Do I believe her "rhetoric" is "dangerous" or "irresponsible"? I'm not sure I can say that. Do I believe that "her words are putting American lives at risk"? I can't say that, either. Personally, I don't think so. Nor, of course, do I believe it's possible to conduct a war without deaths or some sort of financial obligations, or that Bush is an incompetent.

The very tenor of her remarks does suggest to me (though I doubt it does for you) that DeLay was quite correct in saying that Pelosi is "caught up in partisan hatred for President Bush." I know lots of people who are. And I know a few who are caught up in partisan hatred of Democrats for similar reasons. I don't approve of any kind of hate for reasons like this, and I don't understand it. There are better ways of dealing with political disagreement, which is what it boils down to, and I wish Ms. Pelosi, Mr. DeLay, and other people who face off so bitterly on these sorts of issues would find ways to behave and speak more constructively than this exchange demonstrates. I am, however, not holding my breath.
May. 23rd, 2004 06:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Question.
How convenient for you that you choose to argue over semantics rather than the actual issues involved. As vehemently as you try to deny it, in the past two years, criticising Bush or his administration or their policies has been equated many times over with being unpatriotic or siding with the enemy or hating America. Of course it's not easy to find a notable figure saying exactly that -- they know it would be too easy for their opponents to use it against them. But what people say and do has implications. It's how communication works. Just because I can't locate an exact quote doesn't mean that information wasn't conveyed.

Saying "these aren't the exact words spoken" makes you sound like a lawyer trying to get a conviction thrown out on a technicality. People communicate in ways that the Associated Press can't convey in a news story.

Pelosi's statements were not fueled by hatred. They are her opinion, and a well-reasoned one: the war was preciptated on poor information, it has taken far longer and cost far more in terms of both money and time than was originally expected, and it is now, whether you admit it or not, a quagmire. Pelosi should not have to apologise for her opinion, and DeLay should not call for her to do so.

And to answer another of your points: if someone says "all men are idiots," does that insult not apply to me? If someone says "all LiveJournal users are angstful teenage losers," does that insult not apply to me? No, nobody has called me unpatriotic to my face, but when someone says the equivalent of "criticising Bush is unpatriotic," it does still apply to me, since I criticise Bush on a regular basis.
May. 23rd, 2004 06:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Question.
See, but you get into trouble when it's perfectly okay for Pelosi to state her opinion, yet it's apparently not okay for anyone to disagree with that opinion.

Take a look at one phrase, edited only for length, not for content: "the war... is now, whether you admit it or not, a quagmire." By saying that, you're saying that I am not allowed to have an opinion. Regardless of what information I have, regardless of my interpretation of the news, regardless of whatever facts I have, just because they don't agree with yours, they're all worthless in your eyes. You're claiming that you're being called unpatriotic because you're criticizing Bush, which you are not, and yet you are doing everything you can to close your ears to all points of view that don't match yours straight out of the box. In what way does that put you on any higher platform than DeLay?

Please, I like you, I hope you know that. It's because I like you, and I've enjoyed our conversations in the past that I find this attitude bothersome. I know you're better than this. And I would hope you'd be more accepting than this. As a liberal, isn't one of the things you believe in tolerance and open-mindedness? I wish you'd show some to me, rather than dismissing all my opinions about the subject of Iraq simply because they aren't yours.

Until you make the decision to do so, I see no point to continue this discussion. When you're actually ready to talk and listen to what someone else has to say, just let me know, and I'll be happy to take this up with you again.
May. 23rd, 2004 08:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Question.
I never said DeLay shouldn't be able to disagree. If he had said "I disagree with Nancy Pelosi," I wouldn't have any issue. But calling for her to retract her statements is nothing more than attempting to stifle freedom of speech, which I simply will not stand for. I completely recognise DeLay's right to say what he said; however, it's just plain wrong, and he needs to understand that.

I've never said you're not allowed to have an opinion. You can have any opinion you choose. Opinions, however, can be, and often are, wrong. I've looked at the facts, and judging by those, I see no way anyone can successfully argue that what we have created in Iraq isn't a quagmire. I haven't closed my ears to all points of view; I've considered them, and weighed them, and listened to them, and found them lacking. That's what forming an opinion is. If you have something new to tell me or show me that you think will change my mind, please, by all means, let me know and I'll gladly consider it and possibly modify my opinion based on it. But until something comes along to make me reconsider, I see no reason to find that viewpoint valid.

So far in this discussion, the only rhetoric you've come up with is "nobody has personally called you unpatriotic, therefore you should have no complaint about what DeLay said." I find that logic severely flawed, and it doesn't provide me with any reason to change what I believe.

I think you're confusing "open-minded" with "unwilling to form an opinion." Opinions are meant to be decided upon and argued for, not half-heartedly bandied about and disregarded whenever anyone offers a counter-opinion.

So please, if you want to change my mind, give me a solid reason, something that challenges what I've decided on. Back it up with facts. I'm completely open-minded, but I won't change my opinions unless I have a very solid reason to do so. My opinions weren't formed on a whim; I've spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours considering these issues and weighing everything I know and can find out about them. It would take a lot to change that, but I'm more than willing to do so if I see a valid reason to.
May. 22nd, 2004 08:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Question.
A quick websearch reveals that Senator Tom Davis (R-Va.) says Tom Daschle was "giving aid and comfort to our enemies" by criticising Bush. Rush Limbaugh says Kerry is "siding with the enemies" by criticising Bush. And Bush himself said, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

So I'm unpatriotic, and guilty of treason, and against America, according to these folks, because I dare to criticise Bush.
May. 22nd, 2004 09:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Question.
Well... See, my problem with your first two examples is that they're completely lacking context. What exactly did Daschle say the prompted Davis's response? And what specifically was Kerry saying that caused Limbaugh to react the way he did? You might say it doesn't matter, and, well, in some ways it probably doesn't. But without the context, you simply aren't getting the whole story. You're using your hatred of Bush to read in the missing context; personally, I would prefer to know both sides of these issues. Your first example is almost a straight quote, completely devoid of explanation of what Daschle said, and the second one makes only oblique references, and doesn't get into the substance of Kerry's criticism. I really feel that these are vital pieces to the puzzle, and can't (and shouldn't) easily be brushed aside.

As for the third one... Well, I guess I see that as something different. In this case, however, we know the context, because it is provided in the article. Specifically:
Calling Osama bin Laden's organization the Mafia of terrorism and comparing it to Nazism, President Bush created a new Cabinet position Thursday charged with "homeland security" and drew his own line in the sand in his global war against terrorism--dividing the world cleanly into allies and enemies.

"Every nation and every region now has a decision to make," Bush said. "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

As the president directed his most pointed challenge yet at nations that sponsor or harbor terrorists
So Bush was not referring to a specific person. He was referring to nations that are harboring them or assisting in their acts. I consider that extremely different from the picture you were painting. Do I agree with the exact substance of what he said? No, I don't think so, but I think his point was actually very clear, and when you look at the whole thing, it's quite obvious who he's speaking to and about, and who he's not, and that information is vital.

But I'm still curious about something else, and this is the original question I attempted to ask (though I realize, in retrospect, it wasn't clear). Has anyone told you personally that you're unpatriotic because you criticize Bush? I'm not asking right now about your extrapolations based on what other politicians have said to or about each other, but has anyone said that directly to you?
May. 24th, 2004 07:57 am (UTC)
Re: Question.
I can't find a more detailed account of what Rush Limbaugh was referring to, but here's an article about the Daschle speech that Davis said "gave aid and comfort to our enemies": http://www.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/02/28/daschle.war.on.terrorism/index.html
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