Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Keith Olbermann Responds to Rumsfeld: "Good-Night and Good-Luck!"

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday at an American Legion convention speech attacked dissenters against the war in Iraq as suffering from "moral and intellectual confusion" and accused them of lacking the courage to fight back. It appears that the new strategy of this President who is trying to bolster flagging support for the war in Iraq is to go on the offensive. To attempt to stifle dissent and make it appear unpatriotic.

In another era and another time, it was the commentator Edward R. Murrow who stood up to the fearful rants of another demagogue, Joseph McCarthy.

As noted by Joseph Wershba, a former producer of 60 Minutes:
"Murrow did not kill off McCarthy or McCarthyism, but he helped halt America's incredible slide toward a native brand of fascism. Unbelievable. You had to live through the times to know how fearful -- indeed, terrorized -- people were about speaking their minds. The cold war with Russia, the threat of a hot war with China, security programs and loyalty oaths -- all had cowed the citizens of the most powerful nation on earth into keeping their minds closed and their mouths shut. The Senate of the United States. in order not to appear Red, chose to be yellow. It was the Age of McCarthyism. Edward R. Murrow helped bring it to an end."
Today it is not Joe McCarthy, yet we have Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney spreading fear across America. Fear of dissent. Fear of terrorism. Fear of personal safety. And fear of speaking out.

Senator Kerry understands the role of dissent in a democratic society.

Recall what he had to say about this same subject:
"Dissenters are not always right, but it is always a warning sign when they are accused of unpatriotic sentiments by politicians seeking a safe harbor from debate, from accountability, or from the simple truth.

Truth is the American bottom line. Truth above all is fundamental to who we are. It is no accident that among the first words of the first declaration of our national existence it is proclaimed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident…".

This hall and this Commonwealth have always been at the forefront of seeking out and living out the truth in the conduct of public life. Here Massachusetts defined human rights by adopting our own Bill of Rights; here we took a stand against slavery, for women's suffrage and civil rights for all Americans. The bedrock of America's greatest advances-the foundation of what we know today are defining values-was formed not by cheering on things as they were, but by taking them on and demanding change.

And here and now we must insist again that fidelity, honor, and love of country demand untrammeled debate and open dissent. At no time is that truer than in the midst of a war rooted in deceit and justified by continuing deception. For what is at stake here is nothing less than life itself. As the statesman Edmund Burke once said: "A conscientious man should be cautious how he dealt in blood."

Think about that now-in a new era that has brought old temptations and tested abiding principles.

America has always embraced the best traditions of civilized conduct toward combatants and non-combatants in war. But today our leaders hold themselves above the law-in the way they not only treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib, but assert unchecked power to spy on American citizens.

America has always rejected war as an instrument of raw power or naked self-interest. We fought when we had to in order to repel grave threats or advance freedom and self-determination in concert with like-minded people everywhere. But our current leadership, for all its rhetoric of freedom and democracy, behaves as though might does make right, enabling us to discard the alliances and institutions that served us so well in the past as nothing more now than impediments to the exercise of unilateral power.

America has always been stronger when we have not only proclaimed free speech, but listened to it. Yes, in every war, there have been those who demand suppression and silencing. And although no one is being jailed today for speaking out against the war in Iraq, the spirit of intolerance for dissent has risen steadily, and the habit of labeling dissenters as unpatriotic has become the common currency of the politicians currently running our country.

Dismissing dissent is not only wrong, but dangerous when America's leadership is unwilling to admit mistakes, unwilling to engage in honest discussion of the nation's direction, and unwilling to hold itself accountable for the consequences of decisions made without genuine disclosure, or genuine debate."

And today, instead of Edward R. Murrow, we find ourselves listening to MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.

From Crooks and Liars, click HERE and listen to the Keith Olbermann commentary on this.

Thank you Senator Kerry. Thank you Keith Olbermann. And yes thank you Mr. Edward R. Murrow.

If we do not embrace dissent, if we do not challenge politicians and political appointees who threaten dissent, we can all say good-night and good-luck to America! Keep on coming John! We have got your back!



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