PETER GOMES, as usual, stops short of the whole counsel of scripture ("Patriotism is Not Enough," January-February 2003). In his article he leans heavily on Romans 12, which is focused on individual responsibility. He stops short because the very next chapter discusses the role of government in matters of justice and thus its responsibility to guard its citizenry from within and from without.
He levies malicious accusations at the Bush administration for asserting that those who dissent are considered unpatriotic and un-American. I have listened to this debate and have heard that assertion before, but I have never heard a speech from a government official in support of following through on U.N. Resolution 1441 that labeled dissenting American citizens as un-American or unpatriotic. The only place I have heard that is from the shrill voices of conservative talk-radio, who, in this country, have the right to make such statements. Likewise, the dissenters have the right to accuse Bush of being a warmonger, a cowboy, and many other labels that sink into shrill name calling, which equally lacks the substance of accusing loyal American pacifists of being unpatriotic. Like many others I have heard in this debate, Gomes sadly falls into that trap.
In this nation the dissenters have the right to speak. Gomes has had his say and he is able to continue on with his life without fearing that the government will put him in jail for his convictions. The dissidents to this war need to argue their points with reasoned persuasion rather than weakly sinking to the whining fears of fictitious persecution. If they want real persecution they should have gone and protested the treatment of Iraqi dissidents while they had the chance in the streets of Baghdad.
I am not so naive as to say our country is without fault. I have said it before and I will say it again: So much of our culture is sewer muck leeching out to the rest of the globe. Nonetheless our government is constitutionally obligated to defend our nation, and I am not convinced we are free from danger if we give Saddam Hussein a pass to continue to make his contribution to the hateful muck of the radical Islamic worldview that brought down the twin towers.
Kenneth B. Mayne