Saturday, February 08, 2003

The War on Dissent marches on

An Orcinus Principium alert:

Tom DeLay apparently put his name to a letter invoking the "treason" smear against liberals -- but this time it's landed him in trouble. From the New York Times [requires signin]:

DeLay Denies Role in Letter Riling Unions
The letter, which raised money for the National Right to Work Legal Defense and Education Foundation, criticized "the union bosses' drive to use the national emergencies we face today to grab more power." It said this drive "presents a clear and present danger to the security of the United States."

DeLay is dealing with the story with his usual integrity -- denying that he approved the wording of the letter, even though he put his signature to it.

And of course, the letter questions the patriotism not only of the unions but of firefighters, policemen and machinists:
The letter said that the longshoremen had "exploited America's urgent economic and national security needs" by forcing a shutdown of West Coast ports. It added that the machinists' union had "shamefully exploited the nation's critical war needs" when workers went on strike for two months last year at a Lockheed Martin plant in Georgia that assembled F-22 fighter jets and C130-J military transports.

Said the letter: "As the World Trade Center and Pentagon still smoldered, high-paid union lobbyists convinced Democratic Senators Ted Kennedy and Hillary Rodham Clinton to try ramming through legislation to force the nation's firefighters and policemen to accept union bosses as their exclusive workplace spokesmen."

Harold A. Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, wrote an angry letter to Mr. DeLay yesterday, noting that 343 firefighters died in the attacks on the World Trade Center.

We're starting to see how broadly and easily the Bush regime's invocation of "national security" for partisan political gain has spread to all sectors of the national debate. Taking their cue from the President ("The Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people") it's now become pro forma for conservatives to accuse anyone on the liberal side of the aisle of various forms of "anti-Americanism," thereby qualifying them ultimately as a "fifth column" who open the national door to terrorist attacks.

Simultaneous with these attacks on labor unions, we're also hearing voices from the conservative movement's leadership connecting, once again, liberal causes in general with "Communism." See particularly this recent Newsmax column by Paul Weyrich, the movement guru who reportedly wields great influence in the Bush White House:

Life After the Cold War for Communist Front Groups

Weyrich essentially calls for a return to McCarthyite witch hunts among the antiwar protesters:
Clearly, Congress has the authority to investigate these groups despite the fact that the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and the House Committee on Un-American Activities were both abolished in the late 1960s. There is plenty of authority to permit Congress to act.

I, for one, want to know where the Workers World Party, the chief organizer of the anti-war event in Washington and San Francisco, gets its money. The last time we had hard data was in 1990 and at that time the money was coming from Moscow. Where does it come from now?

Perhaps, to sate the likes of Weyrich and the right-to-work crowd, we should just hold congressional hearings on the threat to national security posed by anyone who opposes the conservative agenda. That should cover most of the bases.

[A factual side note: The column refers to "the riots in Seattle in 2001." Which were those? You mean that drunken brawl known as the Mardi Gras riots? There were no "marchers" to speak of there. Mayhaps Weyrich is referring to the Seattle WTO riots -- which, of course, occurred in 1999.]

Bill Berkowitz has some further commentary on this at

[Via Daily Kos and Mark Crispin Miller's mailing list.]

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