from the Congress Action newsletter


by: Kim Weissman
November 11, 2001

This week, Pakistan arrested a leading Pakistani cleric and charged him with sedition. His offense was to call for the ouster of the President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf. The Pakistani cleric was quoted as saying about President Musharraf, "His government is illegal and unconstitutional."

The dictionary defines "sedition" as "incitement of discontent or rebellion against the government". In contrast, in this country we have a Bill of Rights that includes the First Amendment, which allows people to say pretty much anything they want with impunity, no matter how idiotic or destructive, and not be arrested for or charged with sedition. The sedition law currently being invoked against some of America's domestic enemies requires some use of force to overthrow, wage war against, or hinder or delay actions of the government of the United States. Words alone, no matter how outrageous, are not enough.

And so on November 5, 2001, in the midst of a war and a time of national crisis (in which public confidence in its leadership is always crucial), and taking full advantage of its Constitutional protections, CNN decided that it would be proper to run a "news" story called "Remembering Election 2000", rehashing the 2000 presidential election one year later. We recall the reactions of partisan democrats (displaying sentiments shared by much of the media) immediately following the Supreme Court's decision that effectively ended Al Gore's unprecedented attempt to overturn the results of a presidential election by, among other schemes, attempting to disqualify the absentee ballots of many U.S. military people serving overseas at that time — many of whom are now still serving overseas, in a war zone, risking their lives:

"In Third World countries, when democratically cast votes are not counted, or the person who most likely lost wins in a highly questionable manner, we usually refer to that as a coup d'etat. I see this decision as a potential threat to our democracy and potentially destabilizing to our democratic institutions." — Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL).

"If legitimacy comes from consent of the governed, (Bush) did not get that. We have a difficulty certifying this on moral grounds." — Rev. Jesse Jackson.

The court decision was "failed democracy" — Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL).

"Unfortunately, this splintered decision and its unprecedented result will do nothing to heal the deep divide separating the American people. At this time when so many of our government institutions are being tested, the Senate now must serve as the conscience of the nation." — Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

"At the end of the day, Democrats won that election." — DNC Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe.

To which CNN added their own evaluations at the time:

"Bush will become the first president in more than a century to take office without also winning the largest share of the popular vote." "In an extraordinary late night ruling on Tuesday, the Supreme Court agreed 7-2 to reverse the Florida Supreme Court's decision…effectively ceding Florida's 25 electoral votes and the presidency to Bush…".

And now, in the midst of war a year later, we hear CNN host Judy Woodruff revealing — what else? — a new poll by CNN/USA Today/Gallup that "finds 50 percent of Americans say they believe President Bush was elected fair and square. Another 32 percent say he won on a technicality, while 15 percent maintain the election was stolen." That result was little changed, Woodruff pointed out, from "last December" when "opinions were about the same: 48 percent called it fair and square; 32 percent saw a legal technicality; and 18 percent said it was stolen."

CNN appears determined to continue doing everything it can to undermine the president, even in time of war. This despite multiple after-the-fact ballot recounts by many left-wing media outlets that uniformly determined (to the left-wing media's profound disappointment) Bush to have won even more of the popular votes than democrats admit (a fact that none of the left-wing media allows to dissuade them from displaying their still virulent prejudice against Bush), and despite all the talk about bipartisanship and the need for the country to unify in the war effort. The American people have shown overwhelming support for President Bush since September 11, the American people understand the very serious issues at stake in this war, the American people know who their legitimate president is, and the American people have put the leftist-spawned venom of last year's election behind them. No so the media. So out comes CNN with a poll, apparently still determined to try to convince the American people that President Bush does not legitimately hold office.

Which network is it that most prominently displays every civilian casualty in Afghanistan?

Which network was it that sought to submit interview questions to bin Laden as though he is some ordinary politician with something serious to say ("Excuse us, Herr Hitler, please explain to our audience why global war and genocide are acceptable national policies.")?

And which network found it necessary to remind its reporters, "As we get good reports from Taliban controlled Afghanistan, we must redouble our efforts to make sure we do not seem to be simply reporting from their vantage or perspective. … I want to make sure we're not used as a propaganda platform." The network in question is CNN in each case. There was no indication whether the CNN memo also contained an admonition against the continued efforts by its reporters to undermine the legitimacy of President Bush in time of war and national emergency. But CNN needn't worry about that. In this country we have a Bill of Rights that includes the First Amendment, which allows people, including the media, to say pretty much anything they want with impunity, no matter how idiotic or destructive, and not be arrested for or charged with sedition.

While the media pretends that absolute neutrality makes them morally superior to those who actually retain the ability to distinguish right from wrong, such pretensions call into question, not their neutrality, but their contact with reality. A few comparisons make this startlingly clear.

Most people have heard by now of the comments made by the president of ABC News to a group of journalism students. That media mogul didn't think it proper for him to take a position on whether it was right of wrong for the terrorists to attack the Pentagon. If we do not go so far as to question the media's patriotism, we are certainly justified in doubting their plain common sense and their ability to make rational judgments.

Compare the ABC president's remarks with the reaction of large segments of the public in, of all places, Iran. It has been reported that, following the September 11 attacks, thousands of ordinary Iranians gathered in the streets to hold candlelight vigils in sympathy for the Americans killed in those attacks. Further, there have been demonstrations in Iran in recent weeks during which protesters (unlike American protesters) shouted their support for the American war against terrorism. Compare that to those in our media who don't consider it appropriate to wear an American flag pin in sympathy with those killed on September 11, or display any support for the nation that defends their freedom.

Then consider the American media's (and American pacifist protesters') reactions to a few accidental civilian casualties in Afghanistan. While magnifying and lamenting every accidental civilian death in Afghanistan, many in the American media seem to have forgotten about the thousands of civilians in this county who were intentionally massacred by the terrorists on September 11. Such muddled morality is absent from those on the front lines of this war. Some of those accidental civilian casualties occurred on the front lines between the Northern Alliance and their taliban enemies. Yet the reaction from friends and relatives of those killed was an understanding that such deaths were not intentional, and they expressed the desire that American airstrikes continue. They understand that if innocent people in their villages are killed, the fault lies with the taliban, and if the attacks help drive the taliban out, that is a price they are willing to pay. Far from demanding that American airstrikes be moderated or cease entirely (as western pacifists, the United Nations, and the Red Cross demand) Northern Alliance commanders and anti-taliban civilians are pleased that American airstrikes have intensified, and want more.

Unlike our media and hand-wringing pacifists, those living under tyranny know that freedom isn't free, and that the price of freedom can sometimes be heavy.

The above article is the property (copyright) of Kim Weissman, and is reprinted with his permission.
Contact him prior to reproducing.

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11 nov 2001;
updated: 21 apr 2010