“I love America. Do you?”
Since 9/11 that statement/question has been employed — often with depressing effectiveness — to reduce any would-be critic of the Bush administration to stammering out a half-hearted response, and to derail any serious critique past or current of U.S. global policy. Usually it’s been accompanied by a shouted demand for a straight “Yes or no” answer, with no room for qualification and nuance; the message being you can’t “love America” and loath her some policies and politics along with their destructive consequences at home or abroad.
What I haven’t understood yet is why it’s so hard to stand up to that obviously hollow brand of rhetoric, and turn it on its head. So, I was glad to see that AntiWar.Com republished Harry Brown’s response to this tactic, in remembrance, as Brown passed away on March 1, 2006. I’m posting an excerpt here, in hopes that it may inspire some of us to carry on.
Unfortunately, too many Americans seem to have little love for that America. They are quite willing to throw away the concepts I’ve described – in order to satisfy a lust for revenge against the September terrorists.
They’re willing to abandon our cherished liberties – giving the government the power to do anything it wants. They assume – falsely – that such invasions of liberty and privacy won’t affect them, even though the history of government demonstrates that what’s applied against suspected terrorists today will be applied against innocent Americans tomorrow. They’re willing to abandon free speech – wanting to shut up those who don’t join in the rah-rah cheering as President Bush abandons the essence of what made America unique and great.
They’re willing to abandon the rule of law and transform America into a police state – where any law-enforcement agency, military court, or intelligence agency can act as prosecutor, judge, and jury to decide your future.
They’re willing to let innocent Americans die – by encouraging our government to bomb innocent foreigners at will, almost guaranteeing that there will be further terrorist attacks against us.
They’re willing to continue transforming what was once a worldwide love of America into a hatred for America – caused by the correct perception that American presidents believe they can force any foreign nation to do their bidding.
They make no objection when congressmen pass bills – without reading them first or having any idea what’s actually in them – bills that take away your liberties, pile more government debt on your family, and give the president the power to do whatever he wants, as though he were a Roman Emperor.
I’m not sure that the “worldwide love of Ameirca” Harry wrote about ever really existed (at least not if you ask the indigenous people who never quite seem to reap the predicted benefits of our global policies, etc.), but I’m willing to read that as the amount of goodwill towards the U.S. that existed after 9/11, and that has since been squandered by the current White House resident and his cohorts.