Saturday, September 02, 2006

Olberman--The Next Murrow?

Excerpts from Keith Olberman's commentary on Donald Rumsfeld's recent speech to Veterans:

"Dissent and disagreement with government is the life's blood of human freedom; and not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as "his" troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq.

It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile it is right and the power to which it speaks, is wrong."

"That, about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely.

And, as such, all voices count -- not just his.

Had he or his president perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience -- about Osama Bin Laden's plans five years ago, about Saddam Hussein's weapons four years ago, about Hurricane Katrina's impact one year ago -- we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their "omniscience" as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego.

But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris."

"The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.

And about Mr. Rumsfeld's other main assertion, that this country faces a "new type of fascism."

As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that -- though probably not in the way he thought he meant it.

This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed."

Olberman ends his commentary with a quote from his journalist predecessor, Edward R. Murrow, a man who dared to speak truth to a corrupt power:

"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.

"We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular."

These days, it seems that anyone who dares to criticize the current administration or its policies comes under an immediate and merciless bombardment of smear and hate from a relentless wright-wing media machine that steamrolls over everything in its path in a relentless quest to squelch all dissent. This is not the America that our forefathers fought for and died for.This is not the America of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, or even Ronald Reagan.

To categorize any and all dissent against the current administration as treasonous and unpatriotic and even as fascist is an assault on the very ideas that made this country great.

Or to put it another way, in the words of the aforementioned Teddy Roosevelt:

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but morally treasonable to the American Public."

The current administration has made blunder after blunder since they took office six years ago. And the people who have called them on those mistakes, be they the likes of Keith Olberman, Ned Lamont, or even The Dixie Chicks, deserve to be praised, not vilified. These people represent the truest form of patriotism.

I have to believe that somehow, somewhere, the spirit of Edward R. Murrow, cigarette in hand, is smiling down upon those of us who dare to dissent.

For years, I have been telling people that I would never pay for cable TV, since I could see no point in paying $40+ a month for 80 channels worth of nothing. I may have to knuckle under, though, just for the privilege of watching Mr. Olberman speak the truth to power five nights a week.

He gives me hope that there may be light at the end of this long dark tunnel.

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