One of the last journalists remaining in America, Gene Lyons, asks the key question:
Have Americans devolved into slaves? So many people are frightened by terrorism, for such poor reasons, that he thinks we may have lost the guts it takes to be a democracy.
Every time George W. Bush gets caught in a tight spot, he does the same thing: He plays the 9/11 fear card, wraps himself in the flag, emits jawdropping falsehoods and all but accuses his critics of treason. So it is with the stunning revelation that the White House has ordered the illegal, warrantless wiretapping of American citizens in brazen defiance of federal law and the U. S. Constitution. If allowed to stand, Bush’s actions will have taken the United States a long way down the road to military dictatorship...
How can this great nation have been brought to such a pass by a few thousand stateless fanatics hiding in caves? Have Americans still got the guts for democracy? Whatever happened, I wonder, to “the land of the free and the home of the brave”?
A couple of thousand years ago, Socrates-- who fought with great bravery in the Persian war and emerged the equivalent of a highly-decorated sergeant-- was asked how he managed to maintain his courage in the face of overwhelming odds. His answer was that he knew what he was fighting for, that he had reasoned through all of the issues and come to believe that death would not be as terrible an outcome as a failure to defend the world's only democracy against a tyrant. Free of the weight of having to believe nationalistic BS or fables about the glory of war, he killed because he knew it was necessary. Even though he was middle-aged, his feats were conspicuous.
Today, we take the youngest and most impressionable recruits we can obtain, pump them full of misinformation and jingoism, and send them off to fight wrongful wars. That so many of them endure the abattoir, and come out of it wiser and kinder than their commanders is a testament to the human spirit.
At some level, the right-wing knows that what it is doing is wrong. That's why it is so fearful.
As for me, there is nothing that I am more afraid of than the place they are leading us: to tyranny and endless, wrongful war. I would rather stand and fall with good men like Gene Lyons than prosper under the wicked.