In Tuesday’s New York Times, Secretary of State Colin Powell said in an editorial that “A brave man recently met with (him) and described how life in his country has become unbearable.” He quoted the man as saying “There is too much fear in the country, fear of the unknown and fear of the known consequences if we act or speak out.”
It is only in the next paragraph that the reader finds out the country to which the man is referring is Zimbabwe and not the United States, a country that, of late, has the same problems.
Granted, the situation in Zimbabwe is grave, with mass arrests, food shortage, riots and the economy slowing to a crawl, at best, but free speech in the United States is not exactly what it used to be either.
Speaking out against the government or the war on terror can quickly get law abiding citizens on the FBI’s “no-fly list,” which has been criticized as being unconstitutional because it both encroaches on the First Amendment as well as freedom of movement. Furthermore, individuals that have been placed on this list will not know when they are on the list, until they try to board a plane and are stopped on an airport. There is also no way for them to quickly get off the list, as many of those currently suing the government about their placement on the list have found out the hard way.
As many celebrities, like the Dixie Chicks, Susan Sarandon and others have found out, there can be serious repercussions for simply speaking out.
There are also those that claim Powell flat out lied during his speech in front of the United Nations by stating that there was credible evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. And even though some “components to make a nuclear weapon” have been unearthed, there is still no sign of the stashes of nuclear and biological weapons Iraq was supposed to have. The item found is 12 years old, hardly a “smoking gun.”
Yet nobody dares to speak out in this country while Tony Blair, Prime Minister of Great Britain and comrade in arms of Bush, Powell and Co., has to face question after question from his opponents.
America is not as free as it used to be and has lost some of the ideals it once stood for. As secretary of state, Powell should address these problems, as well as those abroad.