Wednesday, January 29, 2003

I think one of the crappiest things so far this century is the prediliction of rightwingers to declare as un-American anyone who doesn't adhere to the party line espoused by Bush & Co.

The right has a long tradition of browbeating into silence anything or anyone they perceive to be the "opposition." Once, it was the blacklist and other McCarthyite tactics. Today, it's the label of "anti-american" or, worse yet, "liberal."

Criticism of the President, questioning the policies of his administration or calling the bluff of his supporters are not un-American. If they were, then a wide swath of the right wing could have been labeled un-American when Clinton held office. Teddy Roosevelt said it best: "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."

Now it seems that rightwingers are in a high dudgeon because some "un-American traitors" are calling for a boycott on Rush Limbaugh. Such a boycott impinges on Limbaugh's right to free speech, they say. It's just another outrageous example of political correctness, according to these folks.

But where are all the conservative "defenders of free speech" hiding when it's the minions of the right calling for boycotts? When radical rightwing Christian groups were calling for a boycott of Disney a few years ago, where was the outrage? When conservatives call for a boycott of PBS, where is their love for "freedom of speech?"

This country was founded on ideals that make dissent one of the key components of being "American." The right wing would rather stifle debate by marginalizing dissent with viscious name calling. And THAT is truly un-American.

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