Commentary: Public ‘seems frighteningly silent” about post-Sept. 11 war

Nathan Metcalf

It seems ironic that I’m writing this in a newspaper. Who am I, after all, to be voicing opinion? I’m just a normal person. But as a student, a citizen and a consumer of media, I see it as my duty to express my opinion. Indeed I believe this is every citizen’s duty. I am not alone in this belief.

There is eager talk about the current state of the “war on terror.” Unfortunately, there is a lot that is not being reported. What is not being discussed is the citizens’ response. Sure, we have reports of opinion polls, but when key information is not being made public, the polls reflect an uninformed citizenry. No one seems to want to address the voices being raised around the globe, the voices of democracy. For instance, 300,000 British citizens gathered in London to protest Tony Blair’s support of the war on Iraq. In Portland, Ore., and New York, 10,000 and 25,000, respectively, gathered to speak out against the war. When these events aren’t reported, polling and any discussion of public opinion is a joke.

Still, I’m not laughing. There is enough in the mainstream news to act on. Since the horrible tragedy on Sept. 11, Washington has set a precedent for abusing our Constitution. The USA Patriot Act is a mockery of our First, Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights. Our invasion of Afghanistan not only failed to get Bin Laden, it failed to fully stabilize our region. And now, despite his inability to demonstrate an actual threat besides a little circumstantial evidence, President George Bush has poised us for another invasion, disregarding international concern. The Senate debate about the Iraqi war was steam-rolled; elections were just too close. And these people call themselves patriots!

True patriots have never been afraid to act on behalf of the ideals of liberty, equality and peace that have made this country what it is today. Average citizens fought to free us from British imperialism, and they kept on fighting, achieving victories in civil rights, women’s rights, labor laws, environmental protection, just to name a few. These changes didn’t happen on television, and they didn’t start in Washington. They started at dinner tables and town squares.

But the public today seems frighteningly silent. Whether it’s because of ignorance or apathy, it cannot continue if we are to remain dedicated to freedom, to patriotism, to democracy. So I ask you, how would the victims of Sept. 11 feel about public apathy or ignorance? Can we honor their deaths by silently allowing the perpetuation of death? With these questions in mind, a group of students and faculty have organized a “Workshop for Peace” tonight at 7:30 in Downing University Center, Room 305. Please come and proclaim your freedom, learn to be a real patriot again. If we remain content to be silent, terror wins, and we all must hate freedom.

Nathan Metcalf is senior sociology/religious studies double major from Louisville.