Thursday, April 03, 2003

Last Refuge of Scoundrels

From the Baltimore City Paper.


So here's a few questions. When the Clinton administration sent troops to quell the ethnic cleaning in Kosovo, we can presume Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.) was giving "aid and comfort" to mass-murdering tyrant Slobodan Milosevic when he said, "The administration's campaign has been a disaster. . . . [It] escalated a guerrilla warfare into a real war, and the real losers are the Kosovars and innocent civilians." What a traitor to America.

When then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) said of the intervention that "Clinton's bombing campaign has caused all of these problems to explode," we can presume that his criticism of the president's foreign policy provided clear and forthright evidence that DeLay hates America.

You see, "freedom" is funny like that. Of course DeLay and Nickles were no more unpatriotic for denouncing administration policies while U.S. troops were in the field back in 1999 any more than Maines or Daschle are today.

There's no shortage of it, and it's not new to this period of conflict, either. Recall White House spokesman Ari Fleischer's veiled warning after colossal boob Bill Maher remarked on the cowardice of U.S. fighter pilots--that Americans need to "watch what they say."

And remember when critics asked Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett exactly what information the government had prior to Sept. 11, 2001. Bartlett said that asking pointed questions like those "are exactly what our opponents, our enemies, want us to do."

Last September, then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) posed the ludicrous question, "Who is the enemy here? The president of the United States or Saddam Hussein?"

The simpleminded, the Know-Nothings, the John Birch-style ├╝ber-patriots like to create a "slippery slope"--a classic logical fallacy--to support their contention that the president equals the troops, which equals the flag, which equals the Constitution, which equals freedom. There's no daylight, no wiggle room, between any of them--as long as it's their guy in power.

There was no shortage of criticism of Bill Clinton during his presidency, and it hasn't abated since he left. The far Right has tried to draw a metaphor from an act of consensual sex to everything from fiscal policy to the refrain that the Clinton administration somehow bankrupted the U.S. military. Funny how this criticism never was seen as treasonous. I suppose it's all depends on whose ox is gored.

When a government seeks to paint any opposition as unpatriotic and any dissent as treason, when it uses its allies in industry and the media to hound skeptics and blacklist celebrities, when it attempts to paint legitimate questions of policy as either a vote for America or a vote for dictatorship, that's not freedom any more.

That's fascism. Smart people know the difference