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Dissent isn't easy these days. You're branded unpatriotic for questioning an unelected president's rush to war, and dismissed as insignificant even when you number in the millions.
It gets much worse. If you work in an American university, you could be blacklisted, harassed and even lose your job for questioning the Bush Administration's conservative pro-war agenda. Thanks to a small number of deep-pocket groups with close ties to the government, campuses have been pummeled with a right-wing political agenda; one stated goal is to replace liberal-minded professors (found to be "short on patriotism" or failing to teach that civilization itself "is best exemplified in the West and indeed in America") with more politically correct conservatives.
Here's the situation: The nation's leadership is taken over by a secretive group of elitists who profess democracy while dragging the country into a totalitarian nightmare. Confusion and fear take hold, civil rights are eroded in the name of fighting a terror war, and impersonal governmental bodies with names like "Committee of General Security" start labeling dissenters as enemies of the state. Secretive courts with limited accountability punish civilians who object. Tightening its grip on power, the government creates public crises it can later be seen as solving, and military service is made mandatory for young men. The ongoing terror war drains the country's resources, foreign relations hit rock bottom, and the economy slides even further. But since fear is the government's most effective weapon against its own population, the terror war is expanded.
In early 1940, Hiram Bingham faced a tough decision: he could follow his government's orders to ignore the Nazi holocaust, thereby keeping his comfortable position as US vice-consul in Marseilles, or he could defy State Department policy by issuing life-saving US visas to French Jews and anti-Nazi activists. Bingham chose the latter, and as a result helped 2,500 escape persecution. Bingham's reward? He lost his post, was drummed out of the Service, and died almost penniless.
The aftermath of the recent Genoa G8 summit's police brutality (in which one protestor was killed and 500 injured) has moved Europe in much the same way the 1970 National Guard's killings of four students attending an anti-war rally at Kent State galvanized North America. Where this will ultimately lead is unclear, but the genie is undeniably out of the bottle.