March 31, 2003

By Michael Strickland


As I've said elsewhere in this daily column, I support the free expression of anti-war sentiment, even if I don't agree with it. Rational debate and dissent is not only healthy, it's one of the foremost ideals upon which this country was founded. But freedom of speech does not make one free to speak anything and everything imaginable. There are limits to this right, both legal and moral. Recently, several individuals have tested these limits.

Peter Arnett made the news again today, instead of just reporting it. If I can be allowed one ad hominem attack, this man is a steaming pile of journalistic dung. Yesterday, he appeared in an interview on Iraq's state-run TV network, criticizing the U.S.-led war effort. "The first plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance," he asserted. "Now they are trying to write another plan." Perhaps "treason" is too strong a word, but it wouldn't take too much of a stretch. By participating in the production of Iraqi television at a time when coalition forces are trying to disable it, one might allege that Arnett provided "aid" to the enemy. And one certainly could characterize his contentious claims that coalition military plans had failed as "comfort" to the enemy (in the form of a morale boost). I don't know what Arnett's nationality is, but if he's not American, he shouldn't be allowed back in the country. NBC, MSNBC and National Geographic did the right thing today by firing him.

Last Thursday, anti-Americanism on our college campuses reached new lows in a "teach-in" at Columbia University in New York. There, Nicholas De Genova, assistant professor of anthropology, called for the deaths of American soliders on the scale of "millions of Mogadishus." De Genova received rousing applause when he said, "If we really believe that this war is criminal ... then we have to believe in the victory of the Iraqi people and the defeat of the U.S. war machine." His fellow professors on the panel labeled the Bush administration's military efforts in turns "bullying, illegal, deceitful, corrupt and murderous." De Genova's comments far exceed the bounds of free speech. Advocating the large-scale deaths of our own servicemen and women in order to achieve one's political objectives is terrorism, pure and simple. To contemplate that such violent views could be condoned by an American university, much less applauded by an audience 3,000-strong, is truly sickening.

Debate and dissent on all issues make us stronger as a nation. By contrasting opposing viewpoints, we ensure all sides of an issue are examined, hopefully leading us to the right solution. But when such dissent crosses the line of reason, into the nether world of violence, anarchy and treason, it should be shunned by Americans of every political stripe.

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For a lucid discussion of the war and related issues by my friend Alex Hare and his partner "Buzz," please visit the message boards at


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Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year, I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

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3/30: The Next 9/11?
3/29: Tomorrow's Gonna Suck
3/28: Willing to Change
3/27: Tropical Memories
3/26: Regurgitation
3/25: Piece of the Puzzle
3/24: Echoes in Eternity
3/23: Booing for Columbine
3/22: Not Recommending Diving
3/21: Works in Progress
3/20: Three Rings of Shock & Awe
3/19: Paris—A Beautiful Blur
3/18: Ignorant Idiot Man
3/17: The Pirate Queen
3/16: To War or Not to War
3/15: So Long, Seau
3/14: Telemarketing Pays
3/13: Free, For Now
3/12: Chicken Little Gets Respect
3/11: Axis of Evil
3/10: Writing Kept Me From Writing
3/9: King Arthur
3/8: The Women are Smarter
3/7: Salt on Old Wounds
3/6: 3/3/03, 3:33 p.m.
3/5: Beer Day
3/4: Pulling the Trigger
3/3: Make 'Em Laugh
3/2: Whither Iraq?
3/1: Strickland Cellars
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