Sunday, April 23, 2006

Patriotism and dissent

In a speech at Boston's Faneuil Hall marketplace (a wonderful part of the city that I frequented regularly during my years at Tufts), John Kerry said that dissent during wartime is patriotic, "a response to Republican critics who insist that questioning the conduct of the war in Iraq emboldens America's enemies," according to a report in The Washington Post.

Said Kerry: "I believed then [in 1971, when he testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee], just as I believe now, that it is profoundly wrong to think that fighting for your country overseas and fighting for your country's ideals at home are contradictory or even separate duties. They are, in fact, two sides of the very same patriotic coin."

He may indeed be running a "shadow presidential campaign," and I wish he'd been this aggressive back when he was running a real campaign in '04, but he's absolutely right about this.

It's been said that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, but I would argue that questioning the patriotism of one's political opponents, calling them traitors and their opposition treason, is truly the political scoundrel's last refuge. And that's exactly what Republicans, America's scoundrels, have been doing. With nothing else going for them, they've repeatedly played the patriotism card, whether it's on Iraq or the Patriot Act or NSA eavesdropping or prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo. It's been absolutely shameful, a thorough debasing of America's already debased political culture. Democrats, and indeed all opponents of the White House and its Republican lackeys, need to stand firm in their patriotic dissent.

They are the true patriots, after all, and in John Kerry they have a proud and honorable spokesman.

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