Sunday, April 7, 2013

Shut Your Mouth

Trey Smith

The rewriting of history by the power elite was painfully evident as the nation marked the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. Some claimed they had opposed the war when they had not. Others among “Bush’s useful idiots” argued that they had merely acted in good faith on the information available; if they had known then what they know now, they assured us, they would have acted differently. This, of course, is false. The war boosters, especially the “liberal hawks”—who included Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Al Franken and John Kerry, along with academics, writers and journalists such as Bill Keller, Michael Ignatieff, Nicholas Kristof, David Remnick, Fareed Zakaria, Michael Walzer, Paul Berman,Thomas Friedman, George Packer, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Kanan Makiya and the late Christopher Hitchens — did what they always have done: engage in acts of self-preservation. To oppose the war would have been a career killer. And they knew it.

These apologists, however, acted not only as cheerleaders for war; in most cases they ridiculed and attempted to discredit anyone who questioned the call to invade Iraq. Kristof, in The New York Times, attacked the filmmaker Michael Moore as a conspiracy theorist and wrote that anti-war voices were only polarizing what he termed “the political cesspool.” Hitchens said that those who opposed the attack on Iraq “do not think that Saddam Hussein is a bad guy at all.” He called the typical anti-war protester a “blithering ex-flower child or ranting neo-Stalinist.” The halfhearted mea culpas by many of these courtiers a decade later always fail to mention the most pernicious and fundamental role they played in the buildup to the war—shutting down public debate.
~ from America's Sell Out Intellectuals and the Perks They Get by Chris Hedges ~
When I was in grad school in the early 90s, I risked my Graduate Assistantship protesting Operation Desert Storm. When the US launched an attack against the nation of Afghanistan after 9/11, I was in the streets protesting and I did the very same when we launched our ill-fated war in Iraq in 2003. For each of these efforts, I was derided and called almost every name in the book -- just like Chris Hedges was. People -- including self-defined "liberals" -- called me unpatriotic, a lover of despots and an idiot.

When you take a public stand that is unpopular, it is maddening when many of the people who tore into you later declare that they too were on your side all along. While you faced vitriol and threats, they did not. While you were castigated publicly, they won praises as patriots and thinking liberals.

Over the years of the Obama administration, I have been a steadfast critic of his penchant for White House secrecy, incessant attacks against whistleblowers, escalation of the drone war and his overall ratcheting up of the national police state. Many so-called liberals openly have derided those of us who have the temerity to question the values and morals of America's first black president. I wonder, when a subsequent president further escalates the precedents set by Obama, if many of these very same people will do an about-face to claim that they opposed these policies from the very beginning.

It doesn't take a modicum of conviction and courage to go along in real time, only to criticize when popular opinion has changed. It is comparable to being a fair-weather friend, only a lot more pernicious!

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