a Saudi Arabian dateline, that talks plenty about foreign policy and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In fact, it argues that "the greatest threat to world peace today is clearly 'terrorism' -- not the behavior to which the word is applied but the word itself." Here are just a few of author John Whitbeck's asinine claims:
For years, people have recited the truism that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." However, with the world's sole superpower declaring an open-ended, worldwide war on terrorism, the notorious subjectivity of this word is no longer a joke. [...]

If everyone recognized that the word "terrorism" is fundamentally an epithet and a term of abuse with no intrinsic meaning, there would be no more reason to worry about the word now than prior to Sept. 11. [...]

The Bush administration appears to be feeding the U.S. Constitution and America's traditions of civil liberties, due process and the rule of law into a shredder -- mostly to domestic applause or acquiescence. Who would have imagined that 19 men armed only with knives could accomplish so much, provoking a response beyond their wildest dreams, which threatens to be vastly more damaging to their enemies even than their own appalling acts?

It gets worse than that, but I'll leave it for Charles Johnson. The point is this: John Whitbeck is perfectly free to write whatever he wants (like, say, that the "the entire Zionist experiment is morally and ethically indefensible" and analogous to Communism and Fascism). He and his ilk will continue to be given prime real estate in the national media, and receive no harsher rebuke than a few angry weblog postings. If they suffer from "self-censorship," that's their own damned problem. Our Bill of Rights protections may be eroding, and our free press may require eternal vigilance, but I know this: Harsh U.S. critics like Arundhati Roy will never be arrested in this country for writing a column or making a speech. If the Times wants to make a front-page claim about our "atmosphere of self-censorship," they should come up with a little more evidence than this.

Posted by at March 10, 2002 11:58 AM
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