All of us who are interested in American news can recall a time when dissent was the "highest form of patriotism", when protests, however small, however clearly organized by political groups, however unpleasant were, at least, high jinks and indications of a robust debate (especially when the protesters shouted down or attacked anyone who disagreed with them), and at most, indications of genuine popular discontent (especially is the protesting group was outnumbered by the media). Glenn Reynolds gives a few examples.
As he also points out, this is no longer so. Dissent is now fascist or Nazi (as Nancy Pelosi said, winning the prize for transgressing Godwin's Law). It is also un-American. Yes, that's right, in the country that has prided itself on the First Amendment, which guarantees free speech and on being the first constitutional republic in the world, in that country the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader call protesters un-American. Mind you, if you read the comments you will be surprised how many of USA Today's readers disagree very violently with Madam Speaker and her colleague.
The phrase un-American conjures up all sorts of past events, in particular the House Un-American Activities Committee that still sends the left in America and here into paroxysms of rage and shrill hysteria. Let us not forget that HUAC dealt with people who had been working for the Soviet Union as spies or agents of influence, that is, working for one of the most evil political systems and to undermine the United States, its allies and constitutional democracy in general. Recently opened up documents have proved beyond doubt the truth of those accusations.
That was then. This is now. And being un-American is no longer a question of betraying your country in order to aid and abet a totalitarian system: it is simply disagreeing with the President's and his party's highly controversial policy.
It would appear that even President Obama or his spokespeople are backing away a bit from that rather outrageous position. Then again, it was President Obama who said just a few days ago that he did not want to listen to those who disagreed with him as they were responsible for the mess that has been created (not he who has been in politics for most of his adult life); he just wanted them to shut up and go away. At least he did not call them un-American or Nazi.
Presumably, he also knows of the call by his henchpersons for American citizens to snitch on their neighbours not because they suspect them to be terrorists (when it was suggested under Bush that people should report suspicious behaviour the left and the civil rights brigade were up in arms though most people thought it a sensible idea) but because they might be spreading "fishy" stories about the Obamacare bill. They are, to use the old Soviet terminology, wreckers and saboteurs and need to be reported.
I suggest they call the database thus collected the Pavlik Morozov Archives, after the young pioneer who is supposed to have shopped his father and uncle to the GPU (the NKVD's predecessor) during collectivization.
Oh, by the way, I am not seeing any anti-American slogans despite the rather unpleasant developments anywhere in Britain or Europe. Not that I see any growth of pro-Americanism either, just a complete lack of interest now that Bush is not president and the government is genuinely trying to suppress dissent, which is no longer patriotic.
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