Say Who Are These People?

In the motion picture, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” the outlaws are being pursued by a Pinkerton-led posse which refuses, despite evasive actions by the two outlaws to abandon the chase. Finally, Paul Newman turns to Robert Redford and asks, “Say, who are these people?” The question should be asked every day by every American in regard to the behavior of the Bush administration. Say, who are these people? Did they ever read the United States Constitution!

I frequently hear from Republican friends that comments and actions by Bush are no different than what was said or done when Democrats were in power. They excuse Bush’s unconstitutional behaviors by arguing it is all normal politics. I disagree. The attitude of Bush Republicans to those opposing their actions is a NEW phenomenon in American political history. It’s about time liberal columnists began focusing on what is DIFFERENT about Republican responses to criticism.

The case of Maher Arar should be on the front pages of every newspaper in America. Mr. Arar was wrongly accused of being a terrorist, sent by Americans to be tortured in Syria, finally returned, and given an apology by the Canadian government. The Bush response was that the man was guilty and the American government would continue listing him on the suspected terrorist list. Say, who are these people? A Republican friend of mine’s response was “it’s better to err on the side of caution.” Caution about what? An innocent man is seized, tortured and no one in the Bush administration will accept any responsibility.

The Canadian press, even newspapers sympathetic to Bush, is furious at the arrogance of the American government in refusing to accept a decision by the Canadian government that after a thorough investigation, Mr. Arar was completely innocent. George Bush is an arrogant demagogue who will violate any law and justify it in the name of “national security.” Perhaps, even worse, is the support he receives from intelligent people who allow themselves to be frightened into surrendering their freedoms.

Say, who are these people? Did they ever study American history? Did they ever read and understand the Constitution? I don’t find anything in the Constitution about “erring on the side of caution.” Don’t you ever wonder how one of these people who seeks to “err on the side of caution” would react if their son or daughter was falsely arrested? I have a hunch they would rush to read the Constitution.