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When the Associated  Press (AP) reported, (12/13/2004),  that Rep. John Conyers and ten other Congressmen were dissidents.
"The Ohio delegation to the Electoral College cast its votes for President Bush on Monday, hours after dissident groups asked the state Supreme Court to review the outcome of the state's presidential race."

I was miffed.  How dare they? Then I looked up the word. A dissident is someone "who dissents from some established policy."  In a comment from that time I sarcastically wondered what established policy Conyers and friends were dissenting from?

But then I took myself seriously, and did some research and found out that one of the responsibilities of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is "prevention of dissident groups from gaining access to U.S. opinion, or a global audience in times of crisis.".

We are in a time of crisis.  Democracy in America is at stake, and Republicans tried to silence the dissidents objecting to a policy Republicans might want to establish de facto, ie that it is acceptable for state electors to certify an election under investigation.  On December 13, there were at least three on-going investigations, Conyers, FBI, and Moss v. Bush.

Why should dissidents be silenced? Because:

"In simple terms, a dissenter is one who reveals facts which others want concealed and possibly also campaigns to change the situation which was facilitated by the concealment of facts."

So I have decided that my first reaction was ill advised.  Americans admire dissidents. Asked to name dissidents they admire, more than likely they would name Solzhenitsyn and the Chinese demonstrators of Tian An Men Square.  Asked why they admire dissidents, they cite their valor in proclaiming truth.

Being a dissident is such a label of honor, a famous dissident, Sharansky, flattered Bush with it in November 2004.

"I told the president, 'There is a great difference between politicians and dissidents. Politicians are focused on polls and the press. They are constantly making compromises. But dissidents focus on ideas. They have a message burning inside of them. They would stand up for their convictions no matter what the consequences.'
"I told the president, 'In spite of all the polls warning you that talking about spreading democracy in the Middle East might be a losing issue -- despite all the critics and the resistance you faced -- you kept talking about the importance of free societies and free elections. You kept explaining that democracy is for everybody. You kept saying that only democracy will truly pave the way to peace and security. You, Mr. President, are a dissident among the leaders of the free world.'"

Too bad, because the true American dissidents fighting for democracy were Sen. Barbara Boxer and those who stood and voted with her.

Edward Murrow has been widely quoted lately, but it doesn't hurt to hear it again:

""We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty...We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men -- not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular...There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities...We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home."    
---Edward R. Murrow, See It Now March 9, 1954,  Report             on Senator Joe McCarthy"

Originally posted to azindy on Sat Jan 08, 2005 at 09:01 AM PST.

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