Thursday, October 19, 2006

Fear Itself

I've often felt that the Left's fear of dictatorship in this country is just plain odd given that there are no actual camps for dissidents and that dissent is alive and flourishing with even "art" about killing a president not out of bounds.

But one thing the Left always had was Ari Fleischer's chilling words just after 9/11 to shut the ef up and get with the administration program--or else. You remember the words reported, I'm sure, that Americans need to "watch what they say."

It always seemed rather childish to assume that this was meant to stifle dissent. And even more childish to assume that it has worked even if intended that way.

But it is worse than silly. It is absolutely wrong in recalling what Fleischer actually said! And I'm appalled that I never realized just how badly this episode has become part of the conventional wisdom of the Long War.

Christopher Hitchens corrects the record. By reading the context of the "watch what you say" remark, it is clear that Fleisher is referring both to the Bill Mauer comments on "brave" suicide bombers flying into our buildings as well as a Republican who crudely talked of checking out people wearing "diapers" on their heads. Concludes Hitchens:

Is it not absolutely and glaringly obvious, from these exchanges, that the second reply from Fleischer is a direct reference back to his first one, which itself consists of a mild rebuke to a crass remark made by a Republican Congressman? No more is being urged, in either case, than a politically correct respect for civility in a rather testing time.

The Press screwed up reporting on a press conference that they were present for! Is it any wonder the press can't report on the war with any competence?

So dissent is safe. And always has been. So if you are still seized with fear every time you go to an organic food market, straighten up and buy that tofu product safe in the knowledge that you really don't need to watch what you say if you really don't want to. We don't in fact live in the Bushtatorship of your self-inflicted fears.

My God, our press corps collectively couldn't pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel.