The PATRIOT Act has been a long time in the making, and its predecessor, the Effective Death Penalty and Antiterrorism Act of 1996, criminalized humanitarian aid to groups whose goals are viewed as inimical to the interests of the United States. It allows for the use of secret evidence in immigration hearings, contradicting the idea of openness in judicial proceedings which dates back to the framers of the constitution.
Immigrants can now be denied bond on the basis of evidence which they cannot see, and to which even their attorneys do not have access. This evidence has often turned out to be nothing more than press clippings, and the government uses guilt by association. A person who simply visited a prison to check on a detainee was himself deprived of his liberty.
The non-crime of driving-while-black has been joined by the non-crime of flying-while-middle-eastern, and The American Civil Liberties Union has set up a racial profiling hotline (1-877-6-PROFILE) for persons whose rights have been violated in the aftermath of 9/11.
Ralph Nader has pointed out that nothing unites a population more effectively than an exaggerated foreign threat, and just as during the 1950s people were seeing reds everywhere, now Islamic terrorists are imagined to be lurking everywhere. People with dark hair and dark eyes and Semitic features are finding themselves under scrutiny.
That is not to say that there are no terrorists, but rather that they should be identified by their actions rather than their beliefs or ethnicity. It is precisely in times of national crisis that we have the greatest opportunity to demonstrate our fairness, and to defend the idea that American justice is colorblind.
President Bush's manichean logic transforms constructive critics of his war on terrorism into demons who support terror. Someone who merely made an unflattering remark about him got a visit from the F.B.I ...
It is as if America doesn't want to look in the mirror, but would rather blame ethnic or ideological outsiders for its problems. Self-criticism is the path to a better America, and those who would stifle dissent are the truly un-American ones, not those who speak out for the rights of innocent people caught up in the very broad net cast by Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft.
D. H. Kerby
Los Angeles, Calif.
We as a progressive people in society, America and the world, need to start fighting for what is good for all in this country. I believe that we are in the middle of one of the most corrupt, greedy minded, destructive presidencies in the history of this country. Mark my words, I say this not because I dislike the Bush administration. When elected, against my vote, I still gave him a chance to prove himself worthy. He hasn't, he has done the total opposite. He brought in a crooked administrative cabinet from his father and Reagan to help push an agenda that these guys have been trying to get for years. They are cashing out at the expense of the American people, and the world as well. (Not including the waters, land and air of this planet).
We must stop bitching about how corrupt this president and administration is, and start getting loud and in the face of the public to seek a change, NOW! People are slowly waking up to the crooked nature of this president. We need to kick it in high gear. Or this country will soon be one big corporation, ruled by a few and feared by us all.
I received a letter from a political charity and I am appalled by what Bush and his henchmen are doing. We have got to do something to put an end to their nonsense ... We need publicity and inform the voters what dangerous Dubya and his henchmen are doing. All of the opposing charities and political organizations ought to get together and finance a show on TV from 7 to 8 p.m., when nearly everyone is home from work and no other shows are on at that time which would compete with a show that is going to tell the truth to a hungry for truth public. If the 700 Club can raise money on their show so can we.
Put the Democratic and progressive candidates on the show and this time make it interesting. Tell what outrages Bush and his cronies are doing. Tell what your solutions are. Give publicity to the charities and political organizations that make sense. Talk about the motivation of the terrorists, the al-Qaeda, the Republicans, and the evil global rich and all the other people who make the news. How are we going to stop the evil if we don't know what the evil is motivated by? Discuss strategy on the show. Discuss what is happening in Congress and what bills you are trying to get passed. Don't be boring. We have got to make this show interesting. So talk about the people who are opposing the bill and what evil they have been up to. That ought to be interesting. The show should be called "Lets Roll" and should be on every single night. Make it interesting and entertaining so people will look forward to watching it every night.
To the charities I am writing to: Have a web site ridiculing Bush and his henchmen. ... Curious people will read these web sites if they are humorous, tell the truth about what is really going on, and are entertaining. We have got to get people interested in what is going on and get them voting for the right candidates. The web sites like this will get publicity. I know Jay Leno will love talking about them which will get curious people going to the web sites and voting their outrage.
Let's roll. This time successfully.
So weeks before the Venezuela coup, the numbskulls met with Pres. Chavez's opponents, which resulted in the recent coup to oust Chavez, only to result in another populist coup to reinstate him. Was the CIA involved in the shootings of protesters to overthrow Chavez? Sounds like the same old CIA tricks to overthrow populist governments who do not cater to the American regime and ruling corporations. And then came the brilliant pronouncements from the Berlin White House for Venezuela to bring about democratic reform! It was the people who democratically elected Chavez. The USA is the country in desperate need of democratic reform. NAFTA, GATT, the WTO, the International Corporations, the World Bank, the Imperial Monetary Fund are all the most undemocratic fascist outfits, who rule to enrich the few.
Pres. Bush says we are spreading democracy &emdash; huh &emdash; with troops in over 40 countries and continuous bombing and assaults to bully and scare the entire planets. Supporting Israel with $3 billion yearly, plus 200 nuclear weapons and tanks. I don't see Palestinians driving US tanks around, bulldozing Israeli homes. Our dollars should be going to our destitute people or to the Palestinians, for reparations for their stolen land, water and demolished homes. Let's have some justice! And with our tax dollars: I am feeling that all the current horrific events are an on-going horror film with an American Godzilla smashing the world and everything that stands in its way. We need to end it.
Alice Keiser Greth
Your newspaper is subversive in my opinion, and very un-American. For the first time in years we have a US president who loves God and seeks His Will, loves his wife and praises her genuinely and openly for her contributions to our country, and works tirelessly to encourage Americans after the 9/11 tragedy.
What if Gore had become president? He would still be "sighing" but there would have been no action, I feel. And if Clinton had been in office at the 9/11 occurrence, he would still be trying to define "terrorist." Bush is merely reaping the sewage backwash from the Clinton/Gore years.
He needs our prayers, not articles such as you print.
Mary B. Wall
Classifying G.W. Bush as an idiot savant is, without a doubt, the highest insult that ever could be bestowed on the true idiot savants of this world. ("Our President the Idiot Genius" by Joan Hoff, 4/1/02, TPP).
Otherwise, her article was right on.
I appreciate your printing my letter in the 5/1/02 issue [Letters, "Don't Blame Draft Dodgers"]; however, your response appears to have missed my point entirely.
Most important is that if the point of Sen. Kerry's remarks is that Democrats can and should question the president's actions, would his opinion change if those criticizing his remarks were veterans themselves? Would it have been more acceptable if former Sen. Dole objected to Sen. Kerry's questions? I don't thinks so; therefore, I fail to see the pertinence of calling them "draft dodgers."
It does, however, call attention to Sen. Kerry's status as both a veteran and war hero, making it more difficult for his opponents to attack him on the grounds of a lack of patriotism. My letter was an attempt to call attention to the fact that by calling his opponents "draft dodgers," Sen. Kerry gives credence to the point of view that only war veterans may take a position honorably &emdash; pro or con &emdash; about war. Indeed, your pointing out the fact that upon his return from Vietnam, Sen. Kerry became a leader in the anti-war movement is relevant to my letter only if you do share that view.
Further, while the term "draft dodger," literally, means someone who evades the draft, it is also a general term of opprobrium implying cowardice, lack of patriotism, etc. Thus, while it is technically accurate to use it for anyone who refuses to serve in the armed forces, it does not differentiate between dissenters of conscience and those that justify a war without being willing to serve. Sen. Kerry does not let us know in which of these categories the Republican senators he addresses fall. It is simply enough to invoke the words "draft dodgers" to discredit them. Similarly, your titling of my letter as "Don't Blame Draft Dodgers" is further proof of this point. I did not state explicitly or implicitly anything about blaming or not blaming "'draft dodgers;" yet you used it to subtly belittle my view &emdash; simply by invoking those words.
New York, N.Y.
Molly Ivins often makes me laugh, and always makes me think. Her comments about known "terrorists" now serving in the Irish government really got me thinking about words.
What is "terrorism"? What would terrorize you more: bombs from some other country blowing your city streets and houses to pieces or a guy blowing himself up in the middle of the 5&10? Or yes, even a hijacked plane slamming into a city building?
As I see it, what we call terrorism is the poor man's war. You don't see weapons-rich Israelis blowing themselves up in Palestinian restaurants &emdash; or are those called camps?
Taking up weapons against ourselves can never be good, whether constructed of fertilizer or unobtanium. Yet the barbarism of war is still perceived by "leaders" (another questionable term) as the ultimate method of settling differences, which might be greedy claims to more riches or deserved claims to basic human rights.
Greed and injustice breed war. An oppressed person has an acute sense of fairness. You can see this in your own kids' squabbles, in the L.A. riots, or in the WTO protests. Dickens eloquently reported it in A Tale of Two Cities. I can almost understand why people would go to war when they have grievances that continually fall upon deaf ears. However, when desperate poor men strike out with death devices, the deaf ears are opened not to the grievances, but to the sound of the explosions. Instead of addressing grievances, the deaf ones refuse "negotiations" because that would be "giving in" to "terrorists." Poor weapons are given no real war status.
A change in vocabulary might open the first door on the long walk to peace. This goes even further than which actions are termed terrorism.
Words have led us to great heights by naming abstract ideas. But words can also communicate foulness. We've prodded each other into a violent attitude with vulgarities, prejudicial humor, false pride, separate branding of us and them. We whip out cute phrases that make us sound witty and superior. "Them's fightin' words." We can't deny the weight of what we say, how we say it, and the emotionally-charged choices of vocabulary. A change in personal word choice can improve our collective attitude, which will soon reflect on a large scale. Would we rather be mean and unhappy but cute, or equal citizens of a peaceful world?
In both personal and world affairs, all aggrieved parties must speak honestly with each other. All must be acknowledged, whether rich or poor. Every injustice must be addressed, every difference in need understood, and as much suffering alleviated as possible. Is it such a terrible sacrifice to lay down our weapons and listen?
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