Shoule We Prosecute
Feb 15, 2006
Last Sunday, former Vice President Al Gore spoke before the Jiddah
Economic Forum. He told the mostly Saudi audience that the United
States had committed "terrible atrocities" against Arabs after the
Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He stated that Arabs had been
"indiscriminately rounded up" and detained in "unforgivable
conditions." He criticized America's new immigration policy, which more
carefully scrutinizes Saudi visas, explaining, "The thoughtless way in
which visas are now handled, that is a mistake." Finally, he concluded,
"There have been terrible abuses, and it's wrong. … I want you to know
that it does not represent the desires or wishes or feelings of the
majority of the citizens of my country."
These are outrageous statements. And the silence from the left is
deafening. The Democratic National Committee told me that they had not
released a statement regarding Gore's speech and had no plans to do so.
The New York Times editorial board, the official outlet of the American
left, wrote nary a word about the speech.
It is now considered bad form to criticize those who commit seditious
acts against the United States. Challenging the patriotism of a traitor
draws more ire than engaging in treasonable activities. Calling out
those who undermine our nation creates more of a backlash than actually
undermining our nation.
Let us consider, however, the probable consequences of Gore's mea culpa
on behalf of the "majority" of his countrymen. No doubt his words will
fuel the massive tide of propaganda spewing forth from Muslim
dictatorships around the globe. No doubt his words will be used to
bolster the credibility of horrific disinformation like the
Turkish-made, Gary-Busey-and-Billy Zane-starring monstrosity "Valley of
the Wolves: Iraq," which accuses American troops of war atrocities and
depicts a Jewish-American doctor (Busey) slicing organs out of Arab
victims and shipping the body parts off to New York, London and Israel.
No doubt Gore's speech will precipitate additional violence against
Americans in Iraq and around the globe.
And Gore is not alone. Much of the language of the "loyal opposition"
has been anything but loyal. In September 2002, Rep. Jim McDermott
(D-Wash.) called President Bush a liar on Saddam Hussein's turf, then
added that Hussein's regime was worthy of American trust. On "Face the
Nation" back in December, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) stated that
American troops were "going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of
night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of
the customs of the -- of, of, of historical customs, religious customs
…" Howard Dean, the head of the DNC, averred in December that the "idea
that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain
At some point, opposition must be considered disloyal. At some point,
the American people must say "enough." At some point, Republicans in
Congress must stop delicately tiptoeing with regard to sedition and
must pass legislation to prosecute such sedition.
"Freedom of speech!" the American Civil Liberties Union will protest.
Before we buy into the slogan, we must remember our history. President
Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus and allowed
governmental officials to arrest Rep. Clement Vallandigham after
Vallandigham called the Civil War "cruel" and "wicked," shut down
hundreds of opposition newspapers, and had members of the Maryland
legislature placed in prison to prevent Maryland's secession. The Union
won the Civil War.
Under the Espionage Act of 1917, opponents of World War I were
routinely prosecuted, and the Supreme Court routinely upheld their
convictions. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes rightly wrote, "When a
nation is at war, many things that might be said in time of peace are
such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured
so long as men fight and that no Court could regard them as protected
by any constitutional right." The Allies won World War I.
During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the
internment of hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans, as well as
allowing the prosecution and/or deportation of those who opposed the
war. The Allies won World War II.
During the Vietnam War, the Supreme Court repeatedly upheld the free
speech rights of war opponents, whether those opponents distributed
leaflets depicting the rape of the Statue of Liberty or wore jackets
emblazoned with the slogan "F--- the Draft." America lost the Vietnam
This is not to argue that every measure taken by the government to
prosecute opponents of American wars is just or right or
Constitutional. Some restrictions, however, are just and right and
Constitutional -- and necessary. No war can be won when members of a
disloyal opposition are given free reign to undermine it.