Asking inconvenient questions is essential
Robert Steinback writes an important editorial on the dangers of supressing dissent.
Herewith, my nominations for the Seven Political Blasphemies of contemporary America, starting with the one Sheehan has challenged.Read the entire piece posted at the Q.C. Times.
-- Not every deployment of U.S. troops is, by definition, a noble exercise. Premise: Commanders in chief make mistakes (and, sometimes, mislead). "Support the troops" is not, as clever neo-con partisans imply, the equivalent of "don't question the president."
-- It is overly simplistic to dismiss all those who resist the American presence in Iraq as "terrorists." Premise: As long as the militants targeting U.S. troops and allied Iraqis are lumped together as "terrorists" -- a step or two below "roaches" -- there is nothing to debate; they must be crushed. But doing so closes off discussion of their true motivations (which would help us understand what we're up against), as well as the possibility that the U.S. presence in Iraq is provoking the resistance.
-- It can be argued that the world is not better off without Saddam Hussein. Premise: Nobody likes a dictator, but sometimes, there is a short-term geopolitical benefit in the presence of a tyrant who keeps rival factions from colliding -- Tito in the old Yugoslavia, for example. This doesn't have to undermine the long-run goal of eliminating all despots.
-- Not every society is ready for American-style capitalism and democracy. Premise: Such transitions need time, planning and patience to work. Moving too quickly can create a politically volatile mess, such as in the old Soviet Union.
-- The word of God is what one chooses to believe, not a universal truth that unerringly applies to all people. Premise: Your belief in your particular version of God is not sufficient justification for you to impose your will on others.
-- The American social model may not be every reasonable person's idea of a perfect society. Premise: Other cultures are not necessarily inferior to ours simply because they are different. We, as Americans, should proudly promote our values, but our aim should be to persuade, not compel, others to embrace them.
-- Criticizing the U.S. government is not synonymous with criticizing America. Premise: Nonviolent dissent can be both patriotic and healthy for the nation.
I'm only a harmless pundit on the Left. Still, I find myself hoping more Cindy Sheehans will acquire the courage to demand answers to the questions none dare ask.