Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Is Bush Making Absolutists of Us All?

If truth is the first casualty of war, public reason may be the second. In the world this President has created, with the help of terrorists who want to take away our peace of mind, every issue has been infected by their good-or-evil view of the world.

In reporting the Senate debate on wiretapping authority last night, the New York Times cites a White House “victory” over a measure that would temporarily allow more latitude to eavesdrop on foreign communications by suspected terrorists.

The ACLU says “Democrats caved in to the politics of fear,” while the Republican sponsor crows “I can sleep a little safer tonight.”

All this hyperbole is prompted by what in a saner society would be a serious discussion about resolving the conflict between public safety and individual rights.

The vocal defenders of privacy are doing their cause, our cause, no service by reducing every complicated question to right or wrong, black or white, us or them. Bush, Cheney and their ilk may be deaf to arguments on these issues, but shouting louder won’t get through to them.

The questions will still be there after they are gone, and the voices of reason will be needed as much as ever.

By all means, let’s set severe limits on what this paranoid gang can do, but not get pushed into defending doing nothing. If politics no longer ends at the water’s edge, neither should good sense.


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