Thanks to our War President, equating political dissent with an act of treason has become something of a national pastime in Republistan. Tom Tomorrow has already commented on this phenomenon in connection with televised sociopath Ann Coulter, but while Coulter is certainly a dangerous lunatic there is at least this one point in her favor: a significant part of her book is devoted to documenting what she takes to be overt acts of war, and material assistance to the enemies of the United States (especially the Soviet Union). Of course, her case is based mainly on distortions, fabrications, and nonsense; but it still puts her a step above the foot-soldiers of tyranny who simply drag out the language of “aid and comfort to the enemy” explicitly and directly on the basis of nothing more than peaceful dissent from the President’s war policy.
Consider, for example, a fellow named Dan Kuykendall, who (during my time in the Auburn Peace Project) decided that it would be best to notify the Opelika-Auburn News that rallies opposing the war on Iraq
give aid and comfort to the enemy, and mused that
Isn’t the definition of treason Since then, the rhetorical tactics haven’t changed much; consider this contribution to Blockheads for Bush, commenting on Ted Kennedy’s recent missives against Mr. Bush’s war:
giving aid and comfort to the enemy?
Let us be clear about this - there are legitimate criticisms to be made about the liberation of Iraq; about whether or not we should have gone in, and about the manner in which we went in, and about how we have performed since we went in; there are, however, no legitimate criticisms to be raised about the reason we went in, nor can there be any legitimate point for an American to make other than that we should be doing more to win this fight. To criticise the reasons we went in and/or to do anything which indicates an unwillingness to see this thing through to final victory is the statement of a fool, or a traitor. No two ways about it.
We’ve given the left a pass long enough - its [sic] time for those who are of leftwing opinion to make their final call: which side of the river are you on? If you’re on America’s side, then you want total and overwhelming US victory - and just to really spell it out; this means that our enemies are dead or begging for mercy. I challenge you - choose, and let you be known for what you are by what you choose - patriot, or traitor.
(Subsequent comments make it clear that most of the Bush League takes the
traitor horn of the dilemma. Some offer the charitable suggestion that Ted Kennedy might be both stupid, and a traitor.)
I sent a letter to the editor of the Opelika-Auburn News in reply to Mr. Kuykendall back in April 2003; since the underlying rhetoric hasn’t changed any in the ensuing year, the reply was a useful template for my comment on the BfB article:
Treason is a federal crime, defined in Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution, which saysTreason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.Apparently at least some of the commentators on this weblog have read the passage, as they refer to theaid and comfortlanguage. Unfortunately, it seems that they have also failed to read Amendment I, which readsCongress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
The Founders did their best to make very sure that the Constitution prevented the government from using charges of Treason to suppress peaceful dissent. That is why the language of the article clearly states that the law of treason to be invoked only for overt acts with the intent to wage war on the United States, or to provide concrete, material assistance to those who do.
If anyone has evidence that Ted Kennedy has committed such a serious federal crime, they should contact the FBI field office in Boston at (617) 742-5533. Otherwise, baseless insinuations against Mr. Kennedy, for nothing more than disagreeing with George W. Bush’s foreign policy, amounts to little more than a shameful proposal for tyranny. You have every right to agree or disagree with Mr. Kennedy’s policy; you have no right to make such scurrilous attacks against fellow citizens on the basis of mere political disagreement.
Posted by: Rad Geek at April 10, 2004 11:51 AM
The comment has been posted directly on the Blockheads for Bush article; we’ll see how long it remains in their echo chamber as it was posted.