Forum: Dissent key in democracy

Jesse Demastrie
While it is imperative during these hard times to stand behind our president by giving him the support he needs to lead us out of this wreckage and confusion, we must not lose sight of those rights we hold so dear. Our freedom of speech and freedom of expression must not end here.

It is unbelievable to see our Democratic leaders work so closely with Republican leaders during this time. It is right to put aside partisan attitudes and allow our leaders to do what they must to solve this problem of terrorism. But those who do not agree with our leaders must be given the right to dissent.

While it seems right to give our president and our leaders our support, we must not censor or block those who choose to dissent. People who choose to dissent are not being un-American or un-patriotic, but instead are being patriotic in their own way. They are exercising their right to free speech and free expression, something our country is based on. By exercising these rights, they show the world that Americans have the right to disagree with their leaders. Dissenters and protesters are showing their love of America by exercising rights we all hold as Americans.

By quieting the voice of dissenters, we give terrorists what they want: the suppression of our freedoms and the loss of our liberties. This is not American; this is what occurred in Nazi Germany and in Soviet Russia. This is what still occurs in Afghanistan under the Taliban. These terrorists despise the concept of democracy and the liberties we hold so dear.

Our historical intolerance of censorship, propaganda and violations of civil rights is what distinguishes us from the Taliban government. By attacking our rights, we lower ourselves to the Taliban’s level. This is the level of one-sided decisions and discussions. No one likes a professor who dominates classroom discussions by only voicing his or her own point of view. We all have the right, and expect to be given the right, to voice our own opinion. This is the American way.

This is not a time for censorship. While it may be easier for our leaders to conduct business during this time without protest, this is not American. It is American to be allowed to voice dissenting opinions and attitudes. This is what our country was based on and what distinguishes us from others.

-The writer, a junior majoring in political communication is president of the GW College Democrats.

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