When I wrote recently about personal liberties, I got an email comment from a friend of mine who brought up an additional point.
In addition to the constraint on our freedoms that our government has been imposing lately with things like the USA PATRIOT Act, there has been a tone in the country against criticism of the government, and particularly the President. If you criticize, you are seen as being unpatriotic. Now, in times of crisis, we rally around our government and our President. After September 11, 2001, I was one of many Americans who supported the actions that the government took and was sympathetic to some of the initial responses by President Bush. But I never wanted a significant long-term infringement of our liberty.
But, dissent is what makes our country great. Dissent is what is patriotic, not quashing dissent. We were founded by dissenters, and we need to give dissenters their proper forum and hearing. Stifling dissent is what kept us from questioning the rationale behind invading Iraq. Even the mainstream press has pulled back from critical commentary, although Internet media is making up for it.
This famous quote is often attributed to Voltaire:
'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,'
If you don't like what the government is doing, be a patriotic dissenter. We should all come to your defense.