Saturday, November 12, 2005

On Dissent and Patriotism 

Tigerhawk writes a brilliant post on what types of dissent are acceptable and which types are not and therefore may fairly be branded unpatriotic. Read the entire post.

Here is an excerpt that will hopefully entice you enough to take my advice and read the whole thing:
The morality of anti-war dissent. This post has argued that in the case of limited wars, anti-war dissent -- or at least effective anti-war dissent -- almost inevitably hurts the war effort and undermines our soldiers. The very system that the soldiers defend, however, depends upon robust public debate to establish policy, including foreign policy. Dissenters whose primary objective is to change American policy concerning the war are, by and large, dissenting legitimately. They are appropriately balancing the costs of the dissent -- the promotion of the enemy's victory conditions -- with its function in our system.

However, there is a lot of anti-war dissent that is primarily motivated by other objectives, or which use methods that are designed not to persuade Americans that policy should be changed, but to interfere with the fighting of the war. Dissenters who are actually furthering some unrelated political objective or simply working out their personal rage may be acting lawfully -- the First Amendment is very powerful mojo -- but they are not acting legitimately. It is not legitimate to damage our war effort and undermine our soldiers because you hate George Bush, want to protect Roe v. Wade, are ideologically opposed to all war, believe that the United States needs to be cut down to size, want to bolster the fortunes of a particular Democratic candidate or Democrats in general, believe that the State Department has been disrespected, believe that the Pentagon is inept and corrupt, or want to discredit Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. If you do that, you are being frivolous with the lives of our soldiers and helping the enemy without the benefit of having advanced the important public discussion over whether we should change American foreign policy. In short, your objectives and therefore your dissent are illegitimate, and it is fair for your opponents to attack you as unpatriotic. You are.

Similarly, if you use tactics that interfere with American policy -- if you attempt to obstruct military recruitment, campaign against American policy outside of the United States or to primarily foreign audiences, demonstrate against weapons manufacturers simply because they are weapons manufacturers, and so forth -- you are deliberately undermining the American capacity to win the war. This is not legitimate anti-war dissent (again, even if it is lawful), and it is by no measure patriotic.

Finally, and obviously, hypocritically arguing in front of the world that the President of the United States lied to or misled the United States Senate is to give aid and comfort to the enemy and undermine our soldiers for no constructive purpose other than political advantage. Fatuous claims that we must argue this issue now -- during the war and in the midst of great uncertainty in Iraq -- so it "never happens again" are nothing but a fig leaf to cover up the awful truth -- that anybody who makes this argument is sacrificing America's best interests for their own.
Senate Democrats, Move-On.Org, Nancy Pelosi, and your ilk--due to your recent behavior, I very fairly and reasonably call you what you are: You are all unpatriotic.

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