It was bound to happen sooner or later. Bernie Weiner and I open a progressive web site ("The Crisis Papers" [www.crisispapers.org]) and write a few dissenting essays, and sure enough, we get an e-mail such as this:
Are you people stoned? If you truly hate America as much as you appear to, why not leave? Those of us who still maintain some shred of sanity and who are not a hoard [sic] of wacked out conspiricy [sic] theorists would certainly not stand in your way... How sad that we in this great nation, have among us such a number of anti-American, anti-human rights, liberal-minded followers who are incapable of trully [sic] original thought, who time and again spout regurgitations of misled psuedo [sic] -intellectuals.
This is hardly a unique experience. Republican Administrations since Nixon have adopted this nasty habit of charging their critics with "hating America," and the practice persists on talk radio, the whore media, and from the secure and well-funded fortifications of the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation. Democrats, liberals and progressives have, for the most part, chosen not to dignify these smears with replies. Bad advice. Ask former Senator Max Cleland, a Viet Nam War hero, defeated by a draft-dodger who charged Cleland with being "unpatriotic."
So here is my reply.
Dear Sir and Madame,
No, I do not "hate America." I love America, which is why I hate what the right-wing zealots are doing to my beloved country and to its international reputation. These zealots have bought out our once-free media and have shut out informed dissent, they have seized control of our government through an illegal election, they have intimidated the "opposition party" into meek submission, and worst of all, they are proceeding to tear up our Bill of Rights and to abscond with our national wealth and treasure, impoverishing the rest of us and our posterity.
In short, because I love America, I despise those who have taken it away from me and from the vast majority of my compatriots -- including yourselves, dear correspondents, as you might appreciate if you will only pause for a moment to reflect upon the news and information that are readily available to you.
I love America for its founding principle that the people are sovereign -- that the elected leaders obey the will and serve at the consent of the people, and owe the people an open and honest account of their stewardship. Furthermore, I insist that informed scrutiny and criticism of those leaders and the free and open dissent from their policies, is the soul of a free society. To condemn criticism of "The Leader" and to label dissent as "hatred" of America is, to put it bluntly, "un-American" -- a betrayal of the founding principles of The United States of America. If you don't believe me, then read the Declaration of Independence and perhaps Mr. Jefferson and the Founders might convince you.
If you truly cannot tolerate dissent, then you are living in the wrong country and perhaps it is you who should leave. On the other hand, maybe you should stay put, for if present trends continue and Mr. Ashcroft and his Patriot Police have their way, all dissent will be abolished.
And with it, the United States of America as we know it and love it.
To prevent which, and in defense of the America we love, Dr. Weiner and I will continue to write, to dissent and to protest -- unless and until those who truly hate America succeed in silencing us.
Dr. Ernest Partridge, a "misled psuedo[sic]-intellectual," is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the fields of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" www.igc.org/gadfly and co-edits the progressive website "The Crisis Papers" www.crisispapers.org He is a contributing writer for Liberal Slant
"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism" - Thomas Jefferson
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else." - Teddy Roosevelt
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