Stifling John Kerry's Dissent
Sen. John Kerry is planning on giving a speech in Boston today about how the Administration "stifles dissent" by accusing opponents of the war of being "unpatriotic". Excerpts from the article about the planned speech:
"The spirit of intolerance for dissent has risen steadily, and the habit of labeling dissenters as unpatriotic has become the common currency of the politicians currently running our country," Kerry, D-Mass., said in remarks prepared for delivery Saturday at Boston's Faneuil Hall.
"We have even heard accusations that this dissent gives aid and comfort to the enemy," said the senator, who was the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee and is a potential 2008 contender for the post. "That is cheap and shameful."
The title of the article is "Kerry Accuses Bush of Stifling Dissent", which I find somewhat of a reach, in that I've never seen any quote from President Bush accusing his opponents of being "unpatriotic". Even if he did, or his supporters used language like this, how is this "stifling dissent"? Why would people let someone else's words stop them from speaking, unless it was because it made them realize the truth? Isn't Kerry, in trying to say that Republicans shouldn't be able to accuse people of being unpatriotic, attempting to "stifle" their speech in the same way?
I've discussed the concept of "stifling dissent" before; disagreeing with someone is not doing that, it's exercising your own rights to free speech. Disagreeing with them, and presenting evidence that what they're saying is wrong, is also not stifling their dissent. For example, I can take one of Kerry's statements in the article -- "A majority of our casualties in Vietnam occurred after Richard Nixon had given up on victory. That must not happen in Iraq." -- and point out that it seems he's implying that the majority of the casualties had happened after Richard Nixon became President, and he could do something about it. Actually, the median death in Vietnam (I'm assuming that's what Kerry meant by "casualty", although he might have been using the more accurate definition of the word, which includes combat injuries) happened in 1968; Nixon didn't become President until January 1969. Maybe the median death happened after private citizen Nixon decided that the war was unwinnable. By Sen. Kerry's logic, I guess future Senators will be able to blame Sen. Kerry for any Iraq casualties that occurred after he decided the war was unwinnable.
Let's look at another statement he plans to make, where he says it is "cheap and shameful" to accuse those of opposing the war of giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Isn't using phrases like "cheap and shameful" the equivalent of using phrases like "unpatriotic" in trying to stifle someone's expression? I've discussed before how, realistically, the only way our enemy can win the war is if we lose our will to fight it. Therefore, anyone who seeks to get us to stop fighting is helping the enemy meet their objectives. That's fine, as long as the people doing this recognize what they are doing -- they've decided that the damage being done to our country by continuing with the war is worse than what would happen if we "declared peace" and came home. As long as they're honest about that, I have no problem with them; I disagree with them, but support their right to their opinion. Those who claim that agitating for an American pullout is not indirectly supporting our enemy's goals, though -- I have no use for their intellectual dishonesty.