If you oppose abortion rights, you're anti-abortion. Oppose
capital punishment? You're anti-death penalty. If you oppose President
Bush's Iraq policy, you're anti-Bush on Iraq.
It follows then that if you strongly object to not only the Bush
Iraq policy, but also the popular war on terrorism and maintaining U.S.
troops in Afghanistan, and if you believe that the United States attacks
other countries, not in self-defense, but as an act of hegemony, and if you
believe the American people are the war on terrorism's willing dupes, sorry,
but you're anti-American.
Saturday, The San Francisco Chronicle ran a letter that
misquoted something I wrote about a California Federation of Teachers
resolution against U.S. war on Iraq. The letter said I wrote that resolution
supporters were "un-American." Actually, I used the term "anti-American."
What else does one make of language like the "so-called war on terrorism"
and the assertion that Bush seeks "any pretext to overthrow the government
of a sovereign nation"?
Un-American, according to my Merriam-Webster's, means "not
characteristic of or consistent with American customs, principles or
traditions." By that definition, the act of dissent clearly is American.
And one should take great care calling someone "un-American,"
given the word's historic link with the McCarthy-era political witch-hunt
for domestic enemies.
Anti-American means "opposed or hostile to the people or the
government politics of the United States." Against one policy, including the
Bush-Iraq plan? Doesn't qualify. Against a couple? Probably not. Convinced
that key popular U.S. policies are rooted in a base desire to dominate other
countries? Does qualify.
When New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman writes that the
Bush administration should push for more energy conservation to weaken
foreign-oil oligarchs who undermine democracy in the Middle East, he's
dissenting against a Bush policy. That's American.
When a Commonwealth Club attendee yells out to Al Gore that he
trusts Saddam Hussein more than he trusts President Bush, that's
When Sen. Dianne Feinstein supports an amendment that would
allow a U.S. attack on Iraq only after the United Nations authorized it, she
was opposing the president for a stand that she thought would be best for
When Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., went to Baghdad and said that
the Iraqis "would allow us to go anywhere" and you have to take them "at
face value," that's anti-American. McDermott was willing to trust the
genocidal, duplicitous Saddam Hussein over Bush, whom he said might mislead
the American people about the Iraqi threat.
And, I'll add, it's the anti-war types who are quick to sling
the un-American label. Actor Ed Asner's son wrote a letter to The Chronicle
calling me "un-American" after I wrote a column dissenting with the anti-war
"Not in Our Name" campaign in which his father was involved. (Just think, if
Matthew Asner ran for Congress he could start a new House Committee on
CFT member Barry Fike wrote that criticizing his union's
resolution demonstrates a "misunderstanding of the First Amendment." Which
shows what he knows about the First Amendment.
Hey, in America, people have a right to be wrong. They're free
to be anti-American -- and free to go ballistic if you call them
Still, it's odd that anti-war protesters, who dismiss the public
as sheep, members of Congress as sell-outs and their critics as bloodthirsty
hawks, nonetheless bristle when called anti-American. They shouldn't fight
it, but embrace who they are.
They should be proud to be anti-American.