International Socialist Review team
The suppression by the Pace administration—in collusion with the Bush administration—of student antiwar activists, makes a mockery of the idea that the campus is a place for the free exchange of ideas. The Bush regime—and regime seems more accurate than “government”—is open about its practical contempt for democracy and human rights abroad—in its explicit defense of torture in Afghanstan, Iraq and Abu Ghraib, and in its military conquest of Iraq. It should be no surprise to us, then, that it also holds our democratic rights here at home in contempt. Of course this government pays lip service to words like “democracy” and “freedom.” But it seems that free speech and assembly are tolerated only when it is not critical speech. We are all “free” to praise Bush, praise Cheney, praise the war, and, for that matter, praise Bill Clinton—the president who put his hands around Iraq’s neck (in the form of deadly sanctions and routine bombing) before Bush added his hands for the final squeeze. But we are not free to meet and speak out against all the injustice we see around us. The powers that be want to create a climate of fear, where the intimidation of Arabs and Muslims sets the stage for the intimidation of anyone who dares to speak out—including students. The harassment of activists in the Campus Antiwar Network and Students for a Democratic Society at Pace University—like the harassment of students at a number of other colleges—should act as a wake up call to all of us to redouble our efforts to extend civil and democratic rights at home, but especially to build a stronger movement against U.S. occupation abroad. If they push us, we have to push back and establish our right to protest. For without protest, to paraphrase Frederick Douglass, there is no progress.
Paul D’Amato, ISR managing editor
On behalf of the International Socialist Review team