Have they no decency?
Over the last several years, conservative pundits have endeavored to rehabilitate the reputation of the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy. "There really were communist spies" is the refrain used to justify the persecutions of the Red Scare. The beauty of that statement lies in its truth; it is after all a fact. It also is irrelevant. After all, there really are criminals, but that doesn't give the police the right to kick in my door.
Then again, in George Bush's America, maybe it does. The president exploited the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to start a needless war and to assault the civil liberties of American citizens. He and his cronies are acting with such contempt for the rule of law that it would have embarrassed Richard Nixon. (Perhaps it is no accident that conservatives reacted with such ire earlier this year when Deep Throat's identity was revealed. The president has kicked off a witch hunt for the person responsible for leaking his domestic spying operation to the New York Times.)
George Bush says he is defending America, and he is right to proclaim that it is duty to do so. But defending this nation means much more than merely keeping its citizens safe from physical harm. For America was founded upon a set of ideals. Americans do not share a common nationality. Our shared history is quite brief compared to the rest of the world. All we have are our principles. If we part with those, there won't be much left worth defending.