I spent this week at work in training. People from around the globe attended the training courses. One of them was Joe, a self-professed socialist from Massachusetts. While he was a fun guy, and we chatted about a number of wide-ranging subjects, our political ideologies were almost diametrically opposed. Yet we still got along fine. America is nice that way.
At one point, Joe mentioned some information he’d read about the yearly complaints received by the Federal Communications Commission. In 2000 and 2001 there were fewer than 350 complaints each year. In 2002 the number rose to about 14,000, and in 2003 it soared to more than 240,000 complaints. The stinger of this article was that 99.8% of the complaints in 2003 came from a single group: the Parents Television Council. Joe was incensed that this Christian group would spend its time and effort trying to change what was shown on TV, and he was shocked that they would be allowed such access to the FCC.
I try to avoid politics when in training, but at this point I had to chime in with a sarcastic comment: “Damn those Christians for exercising their freedom of speech!” This comment promptly shut Joe up; whether he suddenly recognized the hypocrisy of his comments or was simply irritated by my statement, I’m not sure. Perhaps it would be better for Joe to gather like-minded friends and make use of his own freedom of speech, rather than fuming over others using their freedom to express their opinions to the government. It is always a better idea to speak for yourself, rather than reflexively trying to stifle others.
Incidentally, complaints to the FCC rose to over one million in 2004. While the Parents Television Council was extremely active during that year, half of the complaints came from individuals angered over Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl halftime show. Perhaps if Joe had read the entire article, he might have noticed his fellow Americans individually exercising their freedom of speech.
Exercising his own freedom of speech, Senator Byrd (D-WV) recently spoke out against the nomination of Dr. Condoleezza Rice for the position of Secretary of State. During his long rant against Dr. Rice, Senator Byrd missed the point multiple times:
Dr. Rice is responsible for some of the most overblown rhetoric that the Administration used to scare the American people into believing that there was an imminent threat from Iraq. On September 8, 2002, Dr. Rice conjured visions of American cities being consumed by mushroom clouds. On an appearance on CNN, she warned: “The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he [Saddam] can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
May I politely remind the Senator from the State of West Virginia that President Bush never claimed that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat? I may? Spiffy! Here’s the salient bit from the State of the Union address in 2003:
Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.
Senator Byrd’s long oration before the Senate continued in the same vein. Numerous times he made inaccurate statements, or mischaracterized the statements or actions of others. I find it highly ironic that one of the loudest voices of dissent against the nomination of America’s first black female Secretary of State was raised by a former Grand Kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan. But Senator Byrd was most certainly free to voice his objections to the now confirmed and sworn in Secretary Rice. He was simply exercising one of many freedoms we enjoy in this country.
Another freedom U.S. citizens enjoy is the freedom to vote for our government leaders. Iraqis around the world are also enjoying this freedom today; while the actual election day in Iraq is set for January 30, Iraqis living in other nations have already gathered to cast their vote in a three-day window. It has been many decades since the Iraqi people had a free election. Though there were elections under Saddam Hussein, they were far from free. To quote a classic video game, “When there’s only one candidate, there’s only one choice.”
Exercising his freedom of speech, Senator Kennedy (D-MA) stated yesterday that the U.S. should pull its troops out of Iraq. “It will not be easy to extricate ourselves from Iraq, but we must begin.” Since I have already reminded one Senator of the facts, here’s a historical reminder for you, Senator Kennedy: U.S. troops never left Germany after it was defeated in World War II. Here we are, 60 years after the end of World War II, and we still have American soldiers stationed in Germany. But they are not seen as “part of the problem,” as Senator Kennedy views the troops in Iraq.
Why is it that the senior Senator from Massachusetts feels such a pressing need to compare Iraq to Vietnam? “We lost our national purpose in Vietnam. We abandoned the truth. We failed our ideals. The words of our leaders could no longer be trusted,” he said. Well, there is a real similarity between the two wars. The Vietnam War was lost largely because Leftists in the United States turned public opinion against the war, and they are attempting to do exactly the same thing with the war in Iraq.
In fact, the Central Intelligence Agency’s top official in Baghdad warned recently that the security situation is deteriorating and is likely to worsen, with escalating violence and more sectarian clashes. How could any President have let this happen?
It’s quite simple, Senator. When you bloviate about how the war in Iraq was a fraud made up in Texas, you undermine our soldiers and their jobs. When you criticize everything the President says and does, you are giving aid and comfort to the enemy. And when you call for a quick withdrawal, you spread the word to the murderous thugs converging on Iraq that they need only to wait us out, and they’ll be back in power.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has announced that he will fight against the coming elections: “We have declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong ideology.” Congratulations, Senator Kennedy; you have just aligned yourself with a head-chopping murderer who wants Americans dead. Not just out of Iraq, but dead.
Regardless of his political stance, however, Senator Kennedy is free to speak out as he sees fit. That is a blessing of living in this great nation. President Bush has explained our national goal further: “So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.” In a few days, Iraq will join Afghanistan in casting free elections.
Fifty million people to date have escaped the oppressive control of tyrants because of President Bush’s vision. Let freedom ring!