Opinion: Real anti-Americanism

Illustration Illustration

Illustration Illustration

By Zachary Schuster

Back in 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft summed up the Bush administration’s view of those who speak negatively about our current government. “To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists.”

Fortunately, the United States is not Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and we do have the right to speak out against our government. The United States has a history of protest, starting from the time of the Boston Tea Party, that is secured by the First Amendment. What activity is more American than practicing the rights guaranteed in the Constitution?

There are many people who argue protesting the war in Iraq is anti-American. U.S. democracy has been successful, because the Constitution gives citizens the right to hold government accountable for its actions. When Americans choose to protest the war, they are exercising their right to express their disagreement with it.

The methods and slogans chosen by anti-war protesters may seem ineffective to many people, but anyone who loves U.S. democracy should appreciate their efforts. I personally find it repulsive when people like Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.) slander Sen. John Kerry at the Republican National Convention, but I do applaud Miller for exercising his right to make baseless accusations.

While using the right to free speech is one way of expressing one’s love for the United States, there are many truly anti-American activities that go unnoticed.

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It is anti-American for a corporation to reject its responsibilities to community and country by moving its jobs overseas in search of a slightly higher profit.

It also is anti-American for the Bush administration to announce that outsourcing jobs is an effective economic policy, as Bush’s chief economic adviser Greg Mankiw did earlier this year.

Another overlooked anti-American activity is giving taxpayer-funded, no-bid contracts to Halliburton for the Iraq reconstruction. U.S. capitalism is based on the principle of competition, so utilizing Vice President Dick Cheney’s influence to obtain no-bid contracts with no oversight is nothing more than an anti-American racket.

Perhaps the most important part of U.S. democracy is open discourse between citizens and government. During the lead up to the Iraq war, the Bush administration chose to use fear and intimidation to sell the war to U.S. citizens instead of engaging in an honest discussion about the necessity of invading Iraq.

One needs to look no further than National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice’s comment, “the smoking gun could come in the form of a mushroom cloud,” to see the administration’s use of fear to sell the war.

It is anti-American to lead the nation to war based on an “imminent threat” of nuclear attack, only to later suggest the war in Iraq was still justified despite the lack of weapons of mass destruction the administration assured us would be there.

Anti-war activists are accused of being anti-American for exercising their rights. Meanwhile, their leaders are proclaimed great patriots while violating basic tenets of U.S. democracy.

Zachary Schuster is a senior in engineering. His forum runs Mondays. He can be reached at [email protected].