| The Onion 10 October 2001
Freedoms Curtailed In Defense Of Liberty
WASHINGTON, DC--Responding to the threats facing America's free
democratic system, White House officials called upon Americans to stop
exercising their democratic freedoms Monday.
Above: Ari Fleischer urges Americans to keep their mouths shut.
"In this time of national crisis, a time when our most cherished
freedoms are threatened, all Americans--not just outspoken talk-show
hosts like Bill Maher--must watch what they say," White House press
secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters. "Now more than ever, if we
want to protect democracy for future generations, it is vital that
nobody speak out about the issues of the day."
"We must all do our patriotic duty to protect our country's
great ideals," Fleischer continued, "and we have to be careful about
what opinions we express if we are to defend our Constitution, a
sacred document behind which all Americans must stand united as one."
Fleischer's sentiments echoed those of many executive-branch
officials, who, in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, have called for
broad-based limitations on civil liberties--and urged all patriotic,
freedom-loving citizens to support those restrictions--in defense of
the American way of life.
"We live in a land governed by plurality of opinion in an open
electorate, but we are now under siege by adherents of a
fundamentalist, totalitarian belief system that tolerates no dissent,"
Attorney General John Ashcroft said. "Our most basic American values
are threatened by an enemy opposed to everything for which our flag
stands. That is why I call upon all Americans to submit to wiretaps,
e-mail monitoring, and racial profiling. Now is not the time to allow
simplistic, romantic notions of 'civil liberties' and 'equal
protection under the law' to get in the way of our battle with the
enemies of freedom."
In the past, Ashcroft said, efforts by federal agencies to
restrict personal freedoms were "severely hampered" by such factors as
the judicial system, the Bill Of Rights, and "government by the
people." Since the attacks, however, some such limitations have been
waived, finally giving the CIA, FBI, Pentagon, and White House the
greater powers they need to defend freedom.
U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who advocated permitting the CIA
to engage in various illegal activities during a recent Tonight Show
With Jay Leno appearance, stressed the importance of not merely
submitting to freedom-curtailment policies, but also blindly agreeing
"Now is not the time for such divisive, destructive things as
dialogue and debate," McCain said. "Now is not the time for, 'My
opinion is just as valid as yours,' and 'What are my country's leaders
doing and why?' and 'I have a question, Mr. President.' Now is the
time for one thing and one thing only: The defense of the American
democratic ideal. Any and all who disagree with this directive, or who
have different ideas about how it should be accomplished, should learn
to shut their mouths."
As the U.S. prepares to mobilize forces against Afghanistan, the
military is seeking strong limitations on the press. According to
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, such a Constitution-flouting move
would not be unprecedented, citing the suspension of habeas corpus in
the Civil War and the order to round up 110,000 Japanese-Americans in
detention camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
"Remember, under the oppressive Taliban regime, people live in
constant fear of an oppressive order to which all must submit,"
Rumsfeld said. "Under their system, it is illegal to practice a
different religion or support a different political system. It is
against the law for women to work or leave their homes without their
faces covered. There is no freedom of speech, press, or assembly, as
dissent of any kind is not tolerated. It is even forbidden to smile or
laugh in public, and all who fail to unquestioningly obey are punished
with reprisals of brutal violence. We must not allow such a regime to
threaten our great democracy. We must stand for something better than
"It is therefore urgent," Rumsfeld continued, "that all
Americans be quiet, stop asking questions, accept the orders of
authorities, and let us get on with the important work of defending
liberty, so that America can continue to be a beacon of freedom to all