BEYOND PAY BACK, WHAT'S THE FIGHT ABOUT? - Is It Not To Protect Our Freedoms?

(11/14/2001)

Bob Weaver

This is not an anti-war editorial, but a historical reminder and a statement about our American Experiment and our constitutional freedoms.

There is often irritability with the American press, particularly with instant TV news, a dozen channels with 24/7 coverage and their competitive nature, repetitive bantering and talking-head interpretation. Whatever happened to delivering news, and letting us sort through the mess?

Certainly wartime changes must be made to have victory, but they should be temporary, unlike the notion we should now have National Identification Cards, which has a ring of permanency. Maybe we should, but it sounds scary.

The US government is upset with the media. Nothing new here. The Bush administration maintains that media coverage causes the public to be too impatient for a successful outcome on terrorism. Our government, God Bless them, postures and wiggles across the political landscape, and frequently makes mistakes, just like we do in our own lives. We all want to whip the devils and put them in their place.

There is tinkering now with the Afghan war, what the "public" should know in reaching objectives, reversing decisions, and other withholding based on the age-old assumption the "public" does not know what is best for them. Should we forget the ill-fated Vietnam War, a prime example of government manipulation and lying? Should we forget the verbal attacks against the press with Secretary of State Dean Rusk asking reporters "Which side are you on?" Maybe we should have asked Rusk that question.

One frequently made statement alludes to the fact "Nothing will be the same again," relating to our constitutional freedoms. "We will have to give some of them up." I would prefer some temporary, and maybe hard-line measures, not a life-long goal. I heard the US government is holding, against choice, about 1,100 people who apparently met some kind of "terrorist profile," maybe a few with good reason. Most of us sorta like the "holding" notion in view of our crisis, but it is a slippery slope that constitutional rights are being violated.

You would really be upset if the rights were yours. The government is tight-lipped about who those folks are, what is happening with them, what charges are pending and where they are being held. You need not know.

This kind of thing is the stuff of police states and totalitarian governments.

This kind of thing is what we fight for in protecting our great American democracy and its rights and privileges, lest we become that which we despise.

Fortunately in America we have groups of people who constantly challenge information, positions and decisions. We become irritated when the challenging steps on our positions.

It is in maintaining balance of power, from the ACLU to the media to the constitutional balances within government itself, we can survive as a democracy, in addition to those who march off and do the hard work and sacrifice necessary to preserve our way of life.

In our fervor to protect America and destroy our enemies, we must also remember what America is about.

The Free Press - "The protagonist and preserver of all rights, the foe and destroyer of all tyrannies." - Edmunds Travis


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